Tag Archives: publishing

1675. Almost published!

For some reason Charlie had always imagined he’d be a successful novelist. Such a dream was surely about to come true. His first novel had been accepted by a major publishing company. For over a year the manuscript had been edited, honed, changed, amended, corrected, revised, rewritten, modified, improved, refined, sharpened, perfected, enhanced, polished, altered, transformed, adjusted, brushed up, gone over, read aloud, examined microscopically, and had removed from its pages all possible accusations of racism, sexism, and xenophobia. In fact, Charles reckoned he could hardly recognize the original.

He didn’t like the finished product much. It had had the stuffing knocked out of it.

On his final visit to the publisher Charlie was told that the novel lacked panache and it was no longer going to be published. It simply wouldn’t sell. Charlie told them to shove it. He went home and wrote a poem.

623. May contain spoilers

© Bruce Goodman 25 June 2015


I have just received an unsolicited manuscript from a Mr. Currer Bell. The novel is called “Jane Eyre”. Clearly the author needs to read Stephen King’s advice on how to write a novel. There’s lots of other advice out there as well, especially on the blogs. A quick perusal of these postings would convince Mr. Bell not to waste a publisher’s time.

Firstly, the little child character, Jane Eyre, uses and understands multisyllabic words that barely, by their rarity, would be given a place in an unabridged Websters or a non-concise Oxford Dictionary. “Fifteen pounds is not enough for board and teaching and the deficiency is supplied by subscription… by different benevolent-minded ladies and gentlemen in this neighbourhood and in London.” The author must learn to get out of the mind of an adult and into the mind of a child.

Secondly, it is mildly acceptable to establish a conflict with a co-incidence, but to have a co-incidence as the resolution of a conflict is abysmal. After days of crawling through the mud and rain of swamps, penniless, and without food, Jane Eyre collapses accidentally on the remote doorstep of her hitherto unknown first cousins. Not only that, but an even remoter uncle has just died and left her twenty-four thousand pounds. Yeah, right!

Thirdly, an inadequate and ugly Mr. Edward Rochester is married to a mad lady who keeps setting fire to the house. Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre, the governess, have constant philosophical diatribes for pages. All they want is sex or, in Jane’s view, marriage. But oh no! they must talk. And talk. And talk. Four hundred pages could be squashed into one hundred and fifty if the editors of Mills and Boon took hold.

Fourthly, towards the end (I say “end” but really it’s about one hundred pages before the last paragraph) the Reverend Mr. St. John Rivers starts talking religion and doesn’t stop proclaiming salvation until the final sentence demands the slamming shut of the book.

As far as I’m concerned, the only occasion anyone would read such a novel is if there was no other book in the house and there was nothing on television.

Currer Bell shall be receiving the return of the manuscript and a copy of this review.

Now for the next unsolicited manuscript in the slush pile… It’s by Ellis Bell. I wonder if he’s related to Currer?

523. Old Icelandic


Years ago, for his university thesis, Jack had written what was considered to be the first Old Icelandic-English dictionary.

He sent it to a publisher. The publisher scribbled at the bottom of Jack’s letter, “Who on earth would ever want to buy this?”

Next winter, Jack sat in front of the hearth. Page by page he tossed his dictionary into the fire.

“Don’t do that!” someone said.

“No one would ever buy it,” said Jack. “And I know all the words in it.”