When editors and agents reject a manuscript they tend to use a tried and trusted formulation: 'Thank you for your submission, which I read and enjoyed. Unfortunately I don't feel it is quite right for us.' John Howard's children's book, The Key to Chintak, garnered so many of these identikit responses that he suspected the editors and agents weren't even bothering to turn the title page.More from Mark Sanderson in The Daily Telegraph.
So he sent in a new manuscript, The Tin Drum, not his own words this time but extracts from a washing-machine manual.
After a delay the replies started to arrive. You've guessed it: 'Thank you for your submission, which I read and enjoyed. Unfortunately…'