This morning’s item about rejection letters sent out under false names sparked another recollection about the way things used to work in publishing. Colleen Lindsay, an agent with Fine Print Literary Management, recalls an episode from her years on the other side of the fence:
“Long ago, when Lester and Judy Lynn Del Rey were still heading up Del Rey Books, they had several small ceramic bulls that were named after various popes. One of the ceramic bulls was named Urban. Urban Del Rey. Now, frequently, when Lester and Judy’s staff and assistants rejected manuscripts or queries, they used the name Urban Del Rey as a signature. In several of the leading writers guides of the time, Urban del Rey was actually listed as an acquiring editor. And even when I was still working there a couple of years ago, we would occasionally receive slush addressed to Mr. Urban Del Rey. It always made us smile.”
Oh, wait: papal bulls. Now I get it! Lindsay adds that, as far as she knows, “the bulls have gone off to live with various and sundry long-time Ballantine employees.” And, no, they probably didn’t much look like the picture above, but I work with what I’ve got!