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Overwhelmed, Gallimard asks writers to stop sending manuscripts

It’s the manuscript that overflows the pile. Fewer and fewer French people read, but there are still as many candidates for publication. And for Gallimard, this is too much: the publisher asks aspiring writers to wait before sending their prose.

“In view of the exceptional circumstances, we ask you to stop sending the manuscripts. Take care of yourself always and good reading ”, writes the prestigious house on its website. This advice appeared there in early April and was relayed on Twitter.

Not sure that he is followed unanimously, but to increase his chances, it is better to comply. And be patient.

A more difficult publication

The context is quite unfavorable for strangers who dream of Houellebecq or Nothomb. Closing bookstores twice in 2020 resulted in postponements, causing traffic jams in 2021. If getting published is always difficult for a beginner, it has become even more complicated.

Gallimard is however not stingy in first novels: five at the beginning of January, two in March, two in April… Asked by AFP on the reasons for this message, the editor mentioned the immensity of the volumes sent.

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The 30 or so manuscripts per working day received on rue Gaston-Gallimard have grown to 50 for nearly a year. “We make a point of giving equal attention to all manuscripts we receive and we respond to all mailings. It is a considerable work which requires thoroughness and availability of mind. It is for all these reasons that we have asked to suspend, quite temporarily, the sending of manuscripts ”, explains Gabrielle Lécrivain, editor.

Wait before sending your text

Some competitors had given the same advice in a very specific context: during the first confinement, in spring 2020.

“We and other editors put a message on the website asking to wait before sending a manuscript. I was expecting a tsunami when we removed it for deconfinement. It did not take place, but there is some catching up now ”, told AFP Laure Belloeuvre, of the manuscripts service of Seuil.

This publisher receives around 3,500 manuscripts per year, concentrated at the beginning and end of the year. Between January and March, 1,200 arrived. ” It’s a lot. Now that everyone knows how to use a computer for writing, we see people writing who we feel they don’t read. It’s not like the days when you had to take your Remington to type your manuscript, which literary enthusiasts used to do ”, says the editor.

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“We don’t turn off the tap”, says Juliette Joste, editor at Grasset. “You can hardly take anything that comes from the Post Office: one or two titles per year. But I saw this message from Gallimard with astonishment ”.

Renew the catalog

When the Novice editions, which had not yet published any books, created in January 2020 a literary prize intended for “Unpublished writers”, the jury received no less than 150 manuscripts. “I didn’t want us to receive an unmanageable number of them, so the sending window was intentionally very short”, explains to AFP Timothé Guillotin, the founder of the house.

The name of the winner to be edited will be revealed on Friday. “This is someone who tried to publish, and who received quite a few refusals, although the responses were always encouraging. It happened not very far at Flammarion. And our jury understood why, with this very beautiful novel ”, added Timothé Guillotin.

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The editions of L’Olivier note the same enthusiasm. “We will exceed 2,000 manuscripts this year, whereas we were at 1,500 or 1,600 per year before the Prix Goncourt by Jean-Paul Dubois” in 2019, notes Jeanne Grange, from the manuscripts department. “With two editors to go through them, you can’t read everything, that’s for sure. But I will never dissuade anyone. The vitality of a publisher can be seen in the renewal of its catalog ”.

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