Does Russo Inspire or Demoralize?

By Michael Neff

From an interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo on the Barnes & Noble website.

Q: Many writers are hardly "overnight success" stories. How long did it take for you to get where you are today? Any rejection-slip horror stories or inspirational anecdotes?

A: My first novel, Mohawk, was rejected a couple dozen times before it was finally published. Most of the people who read it said they didn't know how to publish a book that wasn't quite "literary" and not quite "popular" either. Anyway, years later, my agent was having lunch with an editor who had just turned down a first novel by a gifted young writer. It was well written, she admitted, but she didn't know how to publish it. What she really wished, she said wistfully, was that my agent would give her a writer like Richard Russo. What good would that do, he replied. He'd offered her Mohawk and she'd turned it down for the same reason she was turning this novel down. Which she refused to believe until he showed her the rejection slip.

1 comment:

  1. This is not a unique problem in publishing. Jack Canfield's Chicken Soup of the Soul was rejected by 250 publishers simply because publishers did not have a category for the book, a place to put in on the shelves of the bookstores.