Last week, I talked about the long road to publication for THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE,which came out this month to some terrific reviews (including a starred review from Kirkus and a rave from Publishers Weekly). Here are s0me of the rejections the book got over the years. I’ve edited out the names of the companies and editors.
"The manuscript was a lot of fun — definitely a good read and a fresh angle. We seriously considered it since it is so unique, but ultimately we have to pass since we are moving away from mysteries and thrillers…"
"I am going to have to pass on an offer at this time. We must be extremely selective with the titles we bring on."
"Thanks so much for the extended look at THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE. You know I hold Lee in the highest regard and I thought he treated this mystery with great humor and enthusiasm. Though I think the conception is novel, in the end I just thought that the plot development moved a little too slowly for us to be really able to break this out commercially. Furthermore, though I think Harvey Mapes is a great protagonist, I just didn’t think the ‘fish out of water’ conception would play out successfully in a very crowded and competitive market."
"This story is well-written and entertaining; however, the tone is not quite right for our list and overall it would be very difficult to publish."
"This is going to be a pass for me. Though I thought the writing was strongly readable and mildly humorous, the protagonist likeable and the overall delivery well structured, I’m afraid the overall storyline wasn’t strong or original enough for me."
"I agree it is an unusual crime story. Unfortunately, we find the market is glutted with crime fiction right now and the market is not kind these days. Simply put, I did not find this manuscript special enough to warrant an offer."
"Lee Goldberg is a great writer but I’m afraid I didn’t respond to the first person voice the way I would have liked in order to confidently take it on for my list here and be its advocate."
"Lee has a good sense of humor and a great grasp of the down-and-out detective genre. I found the story here entertaining, and though it’s not perfect, I asked the publisher to read it. He was not as enamored of it as I was and I lost the battle of wills."
"It’s a lot of fun and very professionally done, but I just don’t see it for my list. I’m sorry, because I liked Harvey. I loved the wit, I admired the use of the L.A. setting. This is one of the better PI novels I’ve ever read."
"I’m familiar with Lee’s work and while this is as entertaining as
everything he’s done, I’m afraid it isn’t the direction that my list is
"Goldberg is a very witty writer, and I enjoyed deciphering his pop
culture references. I also thought it was very interesting the way he
dealt with the conventions of the traditional detective story in a new
way. Unfortunately, I had some real difficulty establishing a different
mystery writer here who has a similar style. I’m sorry but I have to
"It’s a very entertaining read. Harvey is truly a lovable loser and
his development into maybe-not-quite-such-a-loser is surprisingly
convincing. However, I think this project is a little too straight
forward commercially to sit comfortably on our list."
"Given the author’s credentials, I really wanted to fall in love with
this novel. As it turned out, I merely liked it. Intermittently."
"Goldberg writes with real flair, and the premise has potential.
That said, I found the protaganist very hard to like which, of course,
is a real problem in a book."
"His humorous style isn’t right for us. We like procedurals set
abroad, otherwise a mystery has to be a mainstream novel for us to take
"Goldberg is a talented author with a good voice. However, the
characterizations are predictable and that was enough to ruin the book
"Goldberg is unquestionably a funny writer, and his protagonist is
likeable and winning. However, as much as I enjoyed the read,I’m not
convinced this book can work in a mystery field that’s already so
crowded with similar series."
"Harvey Mapes is certainly likeable and smart and the dialogue is
sharp. But I think sassy capers like this are extraordinarily difficult
to make headway with at the moment. The only chance they have, I
reckon, is if they contain an element that either no one else has
thought of or no one else has described as well. I don’t see either
element here so I am going to pass."
"He is a very funny writer and a talented storyteller. Ultimately,
the concept doesn’t seem strong to stand out in a crowded mystery