Publisher Severn House has responded to the revelation from J K Rowling that the company's Creme de la Crime imprint rejected her Robert Galbraith novel The Cuckoo's Calling; but Piatkus Constable Robinson has declined to comment on the fact that Constable & Robinson did likewise.
Rowling tweeted the rejection letters she had received from both publishers to her pseudonymous novel over the Easter weekend. She said the move was intended “for inspiration” for other budding authors to persevere in finding a publisher, “not revenge” for those who rejected it, and she removed the names of the individual editors involved.
The letter from Constable & Robinson said the publisher could not publish The Cuckoo’s Calling “with commercial success” and suggested that a group writing course may help with feedback for the novel, along with recommending the author double check “in a helpful bookshop, on Amazon, or in the twice yearly ‘Buyer’s Guide’ of The Bookseller magazine… precisely who are the publisher now of your fiction category/genre.”
Meanwhile, the letter from Creme de la Crime explained the imprint was now part of Severn House and it was “unable to accept new submissions at the moment.”
Edwin Buckhalter, chairman of Severn House, told The Bookseller: “We have conducted investigations over the Easter weekend and the letter is correct – the submission was sent at the time that Creme de la Crime was being sold to Severn House and until Friday we had no idea of this." But he added: "We are very much a specialist publisher and we prefer names with a track record in hardback, or if in paperback, from an established publisher, so who is to say we wouldn’t have made the same decision if it was sent to us.”
However, he added that Rowling’s message about authors not giving up should not be lost. “From what JK Rowling said, she is not trying to get at publishers, she is trying to encourage writers not to give up,” said Buckhalter. “Publishing history is littered with these sorts of stories and I think Harry Potter was rejected several times before being published. I would suggest writers try to find a good agent. Publishers tend to look through submissions from agents first.”
Little, Brown division Piatkus Constable Robinson, created after Little, Brown bought Constable & Robinson in February 2014, declined to comment on the rejection.
Little, Brown went on to publish The Cuckoo's Calling itself under the Galbraith name. The Sunday Times revealed Rowling as the true author of the novel in July 2013.