Thursday, August 2, 2007

Alas, Jane Austen is Unpublishable Today

This would be funny if it weren't so sad. It seems a fellow named David Lassman, the director of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, England, got the idea to send off for publication some thinly disguised Austen manuscripts to 18 major publishing houses. The manuscripts were the initial chapters of Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and then the trump card, Pride and Prejudice. He kept the manuscripts pretty much identical to Austen's, except that he changed the names of the novels, the characters, and certain place names. He wondered in his cover letter if the publishers might find "his" work worthy of publication.

Did they send him back letters saying, "Yes, these are brilliant"? No!

Was he accused of being a fraud? No!

Only one publisher caught the plagiarism, and everybody else told him, more or less, that there was no market for his work. Read the story here.

(Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for posting a number of interesting tidbits about the current state of the publishing industry on his blog.)

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