Though JK Rowling has been kind-hearted enough never to mention them by
name, John Kenney, one of the four editors who declined to publish her Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the mid-1990s recently wrote a story for The International Herald Tribune about why he turned it down. He writes:
I did arrive, the office was empty. On my desk I saw a manila envelope.
The cover letter was from an agent I'd never heard of. British. Said
the enclosed manuscript was "the next great children's book, a
'Goodnight Moon' for preteens." I laughed. My father, who had also been
a book editor before turning to taxidermy, had passed on "Goodnight
Moon," and he and I often laughed at that.
I've always thought
myself a rather keen spotter of "the next big book." Certainly that was
my reputation. I don't wish to boast, but....
I read the first few chapters of this so-called manuscript and, frankly, thought it drivel.
perhaps March of the next year, I received a call from J.K. Rowling
herself.... I said I enjoyed her work a great deal, but that it didn't
meet our needs at this time - the standard industry brushoff. There was
a pause and I thought the line had gone dead when I heard laughing.
"Mr. Wortham," she said with a light British accent. "I was calling as
a courtesy, actually. To tell you that I sold the book. To Scholastic.
For..." The line went dead. Or perhaps I passed out. I forget which.
Be sure to check out his full article; it's great for a laugh! Thanks to WN for the link!
Thanks to Veritaserum for the information. Visit their wonderful site at www.veritaserum.com