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Archive for February 5th, 2010

J.D. Salinger, YA Novelist

Through an inexplicable set of circumstances, this letter has fallen into my hands, and I think it only fair to share it with my friends.

February 6, 2010

Mr. Jerome D. Salinger
New York, NY

Dear Mr. Salinger,

Thank you for submitting your manuscript, Catcher in the Rye, for consideration. We receive thousands of submissions, and apologize that it took fifty years to reach this point in our deliberations.

We love your writing, and think you show great promise. After a careful reading, our twenty-two year old intern has commented and we agree with her observations.

Perhaps you committed an oversight  in submitting your manuscript to the adult fiction department of Random Grouse. This is, quite clearly, a young adult (YA) novel, and should be considered by Random Grouse’s YA division, not the adult division. There is a current backlog there of seven years, but we think they are in a much better position to market your book. There is nothing to be ashamed of in having written a YA novel – the market is a good one, and we think that a book like yours will find a place on the shelves of many middle school libraries, and even a few high school collections. Many YA novelists have gone on to successful careers in the world of adult fiction, when they move on to a more mature subject. You will agree a pimply, callow high school boy is not the stuff that holds adult readers.

So, while we have to pass on your manuscript, we have forwarded your book to Delilah Scrum, a new editor (now a senior at Sarah Lawrence! Majoring in Communication!), at the YA division, and we certainly hope you hear from her.

With that said, I might note that we have several suggestions that might aid in the marketing of your book. Titles usually are chosen further down the line in the publishing process, but all of us believe that “Catcher in the Rye” is a rather obscure reference to a forgotten folk song; it will be hard to drum up excitement in the market. We suggest, “Don’t Be a Phony, Holden Caufield” as a possible replacement. It has the kind of snap young readers like.

Even though it is a YA novel, we think it might have a little more edge, too. Don’t forget, we’re competing with the new media! Underage drinking is one thing, but perhaps an estranged parent comes to him for help after some drug deal has gone awry  – that might add some interest! Does Holden have a distant cousin, a recent refugee from a war-torn country, engaged in the arms trade, that might show up pregnant on his doorstep?

And finally, we’re wondering if you have ever considered adding a vampire as a character. They’re hot right now!

Once again, we think you have a bright future as a writer for young adults. It is the one part of the market that seems to be expanding, and perhaps you should set your sights there.

Like, really.

Sincerely,

Flora Lipid
Senior Associate Assistant Editorial Consultant
Random Grouse Publishers

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