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Sunday, July 21, 2013

CNN, "A Better Story Than J.K. Rowling's": And Here's Another Story . . .

In a CNN item entitled "A better story than J.K. Rowling's" ( by Bob Greene, we are told that J.K. Rowling's new detective novel "The Cuckoo's Calling," published under the imaginary name of "Robert Galbraith," had been selling dismally until its true authorship was revealed. Greene then goes on to tell the story of Chuck Ross, who, in the 1970s, was a young writer who couldn't get his first novel published and wanted to know if this was because he was unknown. As told by Greene:

"In those pre-personal-computer days, [Ross] sat down at a typewriter and copied every single word of the novel 'Steps,' by Jerzy Kosinski. 'Steps' had won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1969, had received superlative reviews and was a big best-seller.

Once Ross had finished typing up the manuscript, he made sure not to put a title on it. He did put a byline on it: his own.

He made copies, and he mailed them off. The recipients were 14 major publishing houses. Four of those houses had published books by Kosinski. One of them had published 'Steps.'

The manuscript was turned down by all 14 houses.

None realized that it was rejecting 'Steps.'"

Greene goes on to say that Ross also sent the manuscript to 13 top agents, but not one of them was willing to represent it.

Yes, as someone who had both a novel and a screenplay rejected near the finish line, I can attest to the fact that it's a cruel world out there for new writers. Life is not fair.

But now also consider the following true story involving a book, which will go unnamed, which was indeed published. It turned out that the author had copied without attribution one of my brother's copyrighted articles. My brother wrote angry missives to both the author and the publisher. The author's reply:

"Firstly, may I please offer my sincerest apologies.

It has recently come to light that there are a few areas of plagarism [sic] in the book that were not picked up in the editing process. The contract with my publisher and myself has now been terminated, the book is now out of print, and all leftover books have been destroyed."

How kind. Such a charming world in which we live . . .

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