FUNNY WOMEN #98: Classic Novels Rejected by Modern Publishing Houses


Dear Ms. Austen,

Thank you for considering us as a potential publisher for your manuscript, Pride and Prejudice.

Unfortunately, we do not feel that your work is a good fit for us at this time. Although the story is eloquently told, we are concerned that it will not find a large enough audience in the increasingly competitive marketplace.

Because your work shows promise, our editors recommend the following changes if you choose to resubmit to us in the future:

– The opening line is dull. In lieu of, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,” we suggest, “Elizabeth Bennet shifted her Gucci hobo bag to her other shoulder and eyed the handsome, brown-eyed stranger who had just rolled into town in an impressively large carriage. She wondered if it might finally be her turn to find love.”

– How about adding a scene where Elizabeth Bennet accidentally places the winning bid on Mr. Darcy during a charity bachelor auction? Or maybe one in which Mr. Darcy gets locked out of his house wearing only his boxers as Elizabeth just happens to stroll by? More sexy misunderstandings of this sort are needed to hold reader interest.

– Female characters do barely any shopping and don’t talk about shoes at all. Fix.

– We don’t mean to be indecorous, but there needs to be a lot more humping. If you think you’ve added too many sex scenes, you’re halfway there.

We wish you the best of luck in your revisions. If you have any questions at all, please hesitate before bothering us, as we’re very busy and important.


*Gold* *Star* *Press*

Dear Ms. Brontë,

We are returning your submitted manuscript, Wuthering Heights. While our editors feel it has potential, we would like to see you make the following revisions before we can consider it further for publication:

– The female love interest is long dead for the entire length of the novel! This must be changed. For the sake of continuity, maybe make her a beautiful, headstrong zombie? Also, rather than a bleak, drafty manor, set the novel in a quirky local coffee shop in Brooklyn.

– Readers are not going to care about this “Mr. Lockwood” narrator — get rid of him, or make him a loyal dog.

– Heathcliff — handsome, brooding, determined — we loved this character! Great stuff! But we think he will appeal to readers even more if he is a millionaire tycoon with superpowers. Also, blonde.

– We love the theme of love destroying lives, but there needs to be much, much more explicit sex. Don’t be afraid to really go there. Have the narrator dog hiding under the bed while it happens — or something similar.

– Too many moors.

We look forward to reviewing your revision with our changes incorporated. Suggested working title: Mrs. Linton and the Trouble with Moors. Best of luck 
with these edits.


The Butterfield Publishing Cooperative

Dear Ms. Shelley,

We appreciate the opportunity to review your supernatural horror story, Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus. Although we think the premise is dynamite, the execution leaves much to be desired, such as:

– For one thing, our editors are unimpressed by the fact that there is only one “Monster” in the entire novel. Readers are more likely to be interested in storylines that feature massive numbers of monsters — either storming innocent civilians in their cities, or infiltrating their ranks and living quietly among them until the day they rise up in a battle that tests the will of humanity to survive.

– If you insist on keeping it to one monster, which is a mistake, we suggest setting the novel in a high school. Make the monster a quarterback on the football team with a troubled home life, and give him a serious crush on a quiet, yet unconventionally beautiful, girl in his math class — and then go from there.

– Better yet, make him a vampire who plays the electric guitar. Also, bisexual.

– Think to yourself: how can I write this so someone else will write the movie version?

– More sex.

Let us know if these changes work for you. If they do, we eagerly anticipate the opportunity to review a revised draft, the title of which we think should be: The Adventures of the Troubled Bisexual Quarterback with a Secret.

Kindest Regards,

Pressed Leaf Press

Dear E. L. James,

Nailed it! We plan to sell over 65 million copies worldwide and set the record for fastest-selling paperback of all time, surpassing the Harry Potter series.

Thank you!


Random House 


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Molly Schoemann is a humorist from New York City who currently resides in Garner, North Carolina. Her work has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Barnes & Noble Review, The Big Jewel, and elsewhere. She and her husband have two dogs and somehow believe that has prepared them for children. You can find more of her writing at More from this author →