Kathryn Stockett received 60 rejection letters from agents and publishers before someone finally found “The Help” worth printing. It stayed on the New York Times Bestseller List for over 100 weeks. First time authors know, all too well, the number of times their works will be passed over, sometimes in unflattering and insulting ways. “The Diary of Anne Frank” was rejected 16 times, with one publisher writing “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift the book above the ‘curiosity’ level”. One message to Joseph Heller, regarding”Catch-22″ was delivered this way, “I haven’t the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say. Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level.” Rudyard Kipling was told that he didn’t know how to use the English language and one publisher dismissed Emily Dickinson’s poems as “generally devoid of true poetical qualities.” John Le Carre found out that he really didn’t have a future in writing and, in probably the most laughable rejection letter, George Orwell’s submission of the manuscript for “Animal Farm” was received with “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”
Hunter S. Thompson, not one to keep his opinions to himself, fired back at a publisher with his own, very clear response.
Of course, success is always the best revenge, and all of these writers have gone on to sell tens of millions of copies of their works. Nearly all of them have taken up residence on the New York Times Bestseller list. More recent best-selling authors enjoy the assurance that, once their names and writings become household names, their books will sell, their reputations being established for delivering some good reads.
Then there are those who make the lists because their names are famous for different reasons, usually unrelated to anything that could even remotely be regarded as a talent for prose and literature. They’re celebrities – with a very small “c”. Justin Bieber has “written” two book, the first debuting at number 2 on the children’s hardcover chapter list. I have a feeling that a number of tweens purchased it, not as much for his very short life story, but for the poster that came with it. Reading anything is never a bad thing, but I’m happier to see J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter sitting for years among the titles of the children’s books than the ruminations of a boy who just started shaving.
There’s a trend to “strike while the iron’s hot” in the publishing industry which is offering book deals to just about anybody who is watching their fifteen minutes count down at lightning speed. Among The Real Housewives of BravoTV, there are 22 books in print, or on their way. Some of these books, from people like Bethenny Frankel and Teresa Giudice, have allowed their authors to add “New York Times Bestseller” to their book jackets, no matter how briefly they may have enjoyed that prestigious status – these days a “hot minute” will suffice. Others haven’t been quite so successful, or, in my humble opinion, even worth the paper they were printed on. Jill Zarin shared secrets that should have been kept by her family. LuAnn de Lesseps did nothing more than give us another example of a “do as I say, not as I do” piece of published garbage. Taylor Armstrong, under the questionable claim that she was helping women, managed to make the subject of domestic violence worse – perhaps doing more harm than good. Kelly Bensimon likes to have her picture taken and just throws together some published slop about bikinis and making us “hot”.
We have even more of these books to look forward to. Brandi Glanville, Adrienne Maloof, if you can believe one damn word out of her mouth, and Melissa Gorga have book deals. Brandi needs to make money, Adrienne needs to talk about Adrienne and Melissa, well that’s a whole different story. If what I’ve been reading is correct, the working title of the auto-tune princess’ book is “Love, Italian Style: The Secrets of My Hot and Happy Marriage”. More secrets. More “hot”. Please spare us from both. It sounds like “50 Shades of Gross”.
I have my own ideas for a book by MeGo. She should write about poison. She has her own expert on the topic – the Munchkin of Chippendales. With a little work, it could be a real bestseller, with twists and turns a la Le Carre and Tom Clancy. Russian spies are picked off with mercury capsules hidden in umbrellas and ricin laced pens. If novels aren’t her forte, then she could go the science route, providing information on antidotes for thallium, possibly saving some of those KGB alums from certain death. Nah, that’s not going to work. I’ll just stick with the premise that she’s better at fiction. So, the dust cover of her spy novel would have a picture she already has at hand – the one of her sprawled across her dining room table. This time, though, it wouldn’t be about being “on display”, but rather would portray her as some soon to be revived, modern-day Mata Hari. The book could include pictures of her beloved and devoted husband, Joey, and their matching cat burglar outfits, adding to the spy versus spy theme. MeGo and JoGo would be the stealthy, and ultimately heroic, characters in all of this, saving the world from the villains, Juicy and Tree. A battle of good over evil, just waiting to be made into a movie starring, of course, the Gorgas.
I doubt that the Gorgas care what I think, so my ideas will never be a consideration. The book will end up on some shelf somewhere, and people will buy it, in spite of my warnings. The New York Times has a number of categories for their lists: Hardcover Fiction, Hardcover Nonfiction, Paperback Fiction, Paperback Nonfiction, Hardcover Advice, Paperback Advice, eBook Fiction, eBook Nonfiction, Mass Market Fiction, Hardcover Graphic Novels, Paperback Graphic Novels, Manga, Children’s Picture Books, Children’s Chapter Books, Children’s Paperbacks, and Children’s Series. I know where I’d like to see some of these celebrity books, but I imagine that the Gorgas would fall under “advice”, should it sell enough copies to get there. After all, the very first people I’d look to for advice are celebrities. As for the New York Times and that once-treasured list, Stephen King says that he’s still thrilled when his agent calls to tell him he made it, again. Good for him – at least he did it the old-fashioned way, with seemingly endless rewrites and 20 plus rejections.
By the way, it’s already December 21st in a good part of the world. I guess I’ll have to make that mortgage payment, after all. Damn Mayans.