Letter to Leo by James R. Coggins

In the course of my historical research, I came across the following letter in the Russian Archives.

Books for Today Publishing Company,

123 Fourth Avenue, New York, New York

Dear Mr. Tolstoy:

Thank you for submitting your book War and Peace to our editorial department. We think this novel has considerable potential. However, some changes to the manuscript will be necessary before we would agree to publish it.

The primary issue is length. Marketing surveys have determined that people prefer books in the 200-250-page range, so considerable cutting will have to be done to your manuscript. We suggest you drop the historical references; surveys show that people today are not interested in history. Similarly, the religious references could be cut; God is currently out of fashion. However, you might also consider adding a few elements. Stories with vampires and quirky sex seem to be selling well at the moment. We at Books for Today highly value creativity and originality, but we have found that, to be successful, authors need to conform their thinking to modern popular culture.

One final thing. Our marketing experts have determined that the current title will not attract many readers. We suggest the book be renamed Natasha’s Romance.

We hope that you will take what we have said very seriously, Mr. Tolstoy. If you are willing to work with our media and marketing experts, we are convinced that we can turn your rather unwieldy manuscript into something worth publishing.


Thomas O. Day,

Senior Editor

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is www.coggins.ca
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4 Responses to Letter to Leo by James R. Coggins

  1. Hilarious! And pretty accurate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Vicki Hinze says:

    Chuckled all the way through this. It happens time and time again, doesn’t it?


  3. juliearduini says:

    How funny!


  4. LOL. Funny, but also encouraging for the rest of us writers.


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