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Reject a Hit: J.K. Rowling

Let’s step once again into the role of the unconvinced, perhaps even curmudgeonly or fool-hearted editor: What harsh rejection letters might the authors of some of our favorite hit books have had to endure? This time we take on J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame.

HOW TO ENTER REJECT-A-HIT Ever wish you could be the one doing the rejecting? Take the WD challenge by humorously rejecting a hit in 400 words or fewer. Send your letter to wdsubmissions@ fwmedia.com with “Reject a Hit” in the subject line. Yours could appear in a future issue! (Submitted pieces may be edited for space or clarity.)

Let’s step once again into the role of the unconvinced, perhaps even curmudgeonly or fool-hearted editor: What harsh rejection letters might the authors of some of our favorite hit books have had to endure?

This contribution comes from Kinda S. Lenberg of Colorado Springs, Colo., who cracked up the WD editors by imagining the early trials and tribulations of a now-superstar wizard.

30 June 1997

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss J.K. Rowling:

At this time, we must decline your submission of HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE. Unfortunately, the manuscript reeks of being completed on a manual typewriter. For heaven’s sake, it is 1997. Do you own a computer?

The second major problem with this manuscript is its sheer length. Who do you think you are, Charles Dickens? We don’t pay by the word here. Plus, how do you expect parents to muddle through 309 pages to explain the characters, plot, subplots and themes to their children? What if the child has to do a book report on this thing? Can you imagine how long the CliffsNotes would have to be? Also, if parents and children spent time actually perusing the book together, the hours they would be stuck in the same room would be agonizing. Bringing families together is not something you would like to have on your conscience, I guarantee it.

In addition, the subject matter of HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE leaves a bit to be desired. Why would children want to read about a dorky, bespectacled tween’s experiences with the world of wizards and magic? And what about the lightning bolt on the main character’s forehead? What does it mean? How did it get there? Will it be gone when puberty hits?

Finally, children’s books today are cultivated mainly for transition to the big screen. Undeniably, this one manuscript would translate into a seven-hour film (or at least a three-night TV miniseries). In addition, the manuscript’s ending foreshadows a second and even third installment in the series—maybe more. How will a competent director find child actors who can stay sober and out of jail long enough to play the characters to fruition?

Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss Rowling, we appreciate your enthusiastic approach to such a dark subject. However, in this day and age, we must admonish you against penning such large manuscripts. One day, people will probably spend their time communicating with each other via e-mail only—or worse, a sort of shorthand somehow transmitted over the telephone. Your manuscript would serve as merely a dinosaur in this technical age.

Harriet Plotter,
Senior Editor


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