This has become almost too easy–take a famous book by a well-known author (in this case, a Nobel Prize winner), send out a few chapters to publishers and agents and rake in those rejection letters.
Even so, it’s fun when it’s Patrick White’s The Eye of the Storm being rejected by a score of Australia’s finest.
Not one reader recognised its literary genius, and 10 wrote polite and vaguely encouraging rejection letters. The highest praise was “clever”. A low point was a referral to a “how to” book on writing fiction.
Pan Macmillan referred the author to writers’ workshops; Mark Latham’s agent, Mary Cunnane, recommended the author improve by reading Penguin Books’ The Art of Writing, for hints on character and form. Text Publishing, which prides itself on finding and publishing Australian literature, sent back a form rejection letter and HarperCollins flicked it back unread.
For the experiment, the title of the manuscript was tweaked to become The Eye of the Cyclone, and an anagram was used for the author’s name, Wraith Picket. And the age chosen for the 33-year-old father of one was the number of years that have passed since White wrote the novel.