Every publisher's dream is to stumble upon a book with bestselling potential. To pick a manuscript from the submissions list, start reading and see a Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or Ian Rankin like story unfolding.
With unsolicited manuscripts flowing into the big publishing houses like flood water, they have no choice but to find reasons to reject books in order to narrow their search. Bad formatting, bad grammar and sentence structure... these kinds of problems in a manuscript make it easy to reject it.
But if you're a small house like ours, a shack really, a lean-to against the garage... you dream of the diamond in the rough. A writer like Zane Grey, pictured here. From 1910 until after his death in 1939, Zane Grey was the bestselling western author of all time. He wrote over 90 books, about the west, about fishing, for kids, adults. The man was a writing machine. There is a reason they say behind every great man there's a woman, and Zane's was called Dolly. Here is (as Paul Harvey would say) the rest of the story:
Zane's great success permitted him to have homes in Ohio, California and other places. He travelled frequently and on a trip to California he came up with an idea for a new book. In his usual prolific way he whipped it up and mailed it off to his agent. Sometime later the manuscript was returned to him with a scathing letter from the agent chastising "the imposter" trying to imitate the great Zane Grey. That is when Zane found out that the rest of his manuscripts had been retyped and corrected by his wife Dolly.
What nobody can take away is the fact that Zane Grey was a great storyteller. That he was not always so into proper format, punctuation and spelling can be forgiven, that's what editors are for. These diamonds in the rough are the author's my publishing house is hoping to find. Not that we aren't doing cartwheels when a manuscript like Sandra Ruttan's "Suspicious Circumstances", or Theresa Leighton's "Last" come our way - good stories backed up by professional presentation, but we read everything just in case that next brilliant storyteller isn't so worried about the rules of the game.