Monday, May 09, 2016

Valley of the Dolls: from reject to 30-million best-seller

Valley of the Dolls

Valley of the Dolls, by Jacqueline Susann, is 50 years old in February 2016 Credit: Rex Features

Even by the standards of a cold rejection letter, the one Jacqueline Susann received from publishers Geis Associates in 1965 was brutal.

Her novel Valley of the Dolls was dismissed as "painfully dull, inept, clumsy, undisciplined, rambling and thoroughly amateurish". So how did such a poor book go on to be registered in The Guinness Book of World Records in the late Sixties as the world's most popular novel? The success of Valley of the Dolls – to date more than 30 million copies have been sold worldwide – is a tale of one of the most tenacious and sharp-eyed publishing campaigns of all time. 

The novel, which is about the sex lives and addiction problems of four Hollywood "glamour girls", is 50 years old on February 10, 2016. The “dolls” in the title are the "uppers" and "downers" Susann's characters swallow to cope with their soap-opera lives.

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