Getting PublishedClare Vanderpool received 60 rejection letters before Moon Over Manifest was published and then won the 2011 Newberry Medal. What's up with that? What goes on in the publishing...

Getting Published

Clare Vanderpool received 60 rejection letters before Moon Over Manifest was published and then won the 2011 Newberry Medal. What's up with that? What goes on in the publishing world that such a fine novel would be rejected by 60 editors/agents?

Asked on by Susan Hurn

6 Answers

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Sometimes the best literature is not necessarily going to appeal to a wide audience. I suspect there are many brilliant manuscripts out there that will never be published. If it won't sell, a publisher won't take a chance. Editors are trained to recognize and cultivate what will be profitable, not literary genius. It is a testament to the perseverance of an author to be rejected over 60 times and still keep trying!
brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

It's a cold, hard equation of what kinds of book sales can be generated from a topic.  Some fantastic pieces of literature are simply ahead of their time.  Others get lost and go unnoticed in the giant piles of manuscripts.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and one man's masterpiece may be another man's pulp fiction.

The intense competition in the publishing world with the advent of audiobooks, online books, digital readers and the like have made publishers more cautious than ever with their print media publications, but also more adventurous when it comes to publishing people online, since there is little risk and overhead costs involved.

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The previous post hit the nail right on the head. Publishing costs are higher than ever and sales of print material have fallen ever since the rise of online reading sources. Profit-making is still the publishing world's foremost goal, not producing superlative literature from unknown and untried authors.

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

There is an economic factor at play in publication decisions and many of the big publishing houses are more concerned with marketability in conjunction with quality.  That is not to say that great writing doesn't get published, but publishers are looking at what is making a "best-seller" these days. 

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

It is the case far too often.  Stephen King was rejected repeatedly before his first novel was published; I'm sure those publishers regret their decision.  As accessteacher posted above, there are many factors besides the writing itself that go into deciding if a book is published.  The major determining factor is money.  Will the book sell?  Publishers are interested in the business of selling books and not really in the literature itself. 

Once a book is published, it is looked at from a different perspective.  Newberry Medals are given for literary quality and technique; they are not based on how many copies sold.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Unfortunately, I feel that the publishing world today is driven more by factors that are not relevant to whether a given book is good or not. Factors such as world events, seasons and even what other books have been published recently determine whether publishers will accept a book. Unfortunately, as in the case you have identified, this results in authors having to be very persistent when trying to get their work published.