Wednesday, September 26, 2007

In the bag

Got my new book in the mail, quite unexpectedly. Didn’t think it’d be back from the printer for weeks.
It’s gorgeous, even if I do say so myself. Though I can say so, because the gorgeousness is nothing to do with me, and all to do with illustration, printing, and Random House’s willingness to invest in a splash of gold tinsel across the front cover.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't call us

These are the sorts of stories floated to make fools of book publishers, but in fact secretly delight every hack (of which I am one) who has ever had a rejection slip:
In the summer of 1950, Alfred A. Knopf Inc. turned down the English-language rights to a Dutch manuscript after receiving a particularly harsh reader’s report. The work was “very dull,” the reader insisted, “a dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions.” Sales would be small because the main characters were neither familiar to Americans nor especially appealing. “Even if the work had come to light five years ago, when the subject was timely,” the reader wrote, “I don’t see that there would have been a chance for it.”
Knopf wasn’t alone. “The Diary of a Young Girl,” by Anne Frank, would be rejected by 15 others before Doubleday published it in 1952. More than 30 million copies are currently in print, making it one of the best-selling books in history.

The New York Times reports that researchers with access to the archives of the venerable house of Knopf have discovered a delightful history of tragic reader reports and no doubt deeply regretted decisions:
The rejection files, which run from the 1940s through the 1970s, include dismissive verdicts on the likes of Jorge Luis Borges (“utterly untranslatable”), Isaac Bashevis Singer (“It’s Poland and the rich Jews again”), Anaïs Nin (“There is no commercial advantage in acquiring her, and, in my opinion, no artistic”), Sylvia Plath (“There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice”) and Jack Kerouac (“His frenetic and scrambling prose perfectly express the feverish travels of the Beat Generation. But is that enough? I don’t think so”). In a two-year stretch beginning in 1955, Knopf turned down manuscripts by Jean-Paul Sartre, Mordecai Richler, and the historians A. J. P. Taylor and Barbara Tuchman, not to mention Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” (too racy) and James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room” (“hopelessly bad”).

At my feet

There's a dog at my feet.
Not my dog. I'm babysitting a Spoodle.
It's a long time since I had a dog adhered to me like a shadow. When poor old Lil died it took me months to remember that I didn't have to hold the door open after me - I'd been waiting for her to follow me everywhere every day for 16 years.
Now Shiloh and I are blogging. She's a very big help. This morning she helped me get dressed, and as you can probably imagine was an enormous help to my girlfriend while she was working out this afternoon.
She has even brought us a small indefinable fluffy thing that may be part of another living creature. It's too disgusting to tell. Can't be a rabbit. I watched her this morning and she pays no attention to rabbits at all.
Perhaps it's a bit of whatever beast pulled out all my irises and freesias and threw them around the garden for fun.
It's a jungle out there.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Viral marketing

Have just emerged from a flu-induced fog. Nasty one. My head still hurts. I hope to be able to resume normal transmission soon.
In the meantime, here's Jobi Murphy's gorgeous cover of my next book, Billabong Bill's Bushfire Christmas.

It's due out in November just in time for you to stock up for Christmas.