Least Successful Author

William A. Gold of Australia had the dubious distinction of being named the least successful writer ever in the 1975 edition of the Guinness Book of Records. To my knowledge, Guinness never awarded this record to anyone else.

Gold gained the title because, as of 1975, he had written at least eight novels and 100 short stories, but none of them had been published, despite his best efforts. His writing had only ever earned him 50 cents from an article published in the Canberra News.

I've only been able to find the titles of two of Gold's book. One of them was John Lewis Seeks a Mission, which he submitted to the Adelaide Advertiser $2000 Literary Competition in 1966. (Obviously, he didn't win.) The other was One Best Seller: A Satire on the Publishing Game. The Sydney Morning Herald described this as dealing with "the adventures of author Eric Bellamy, literary agent Lawrence Templeton, and the latter’s attempts to get Bellamy’s novel, Sibelius on Sunday, published." Gold eventually self-published this novel in 1984. (and it's available for purchase from some used book stores in Australia.)

Gold died in 2001, and his collected papers are now stored at the National Library of Australia.

"23-7-87. Mr. Bill Gold, the world's greatest unpublished author, with his own published book, "One Best Seller." No one wants the book." (Getty Images)

"23-7-87. I'm broke, give me ten dollars for two books. This was Mr. Bill Gold as he makes dinner in his small flat in Queanbeyan. He is the world's greatest unpublished author." (Getty Images)

The Montreal Gazette - Feb 9, 1979

     Posted By: Alex - Tue Feb 05, 2019
     Category: Literature | Books | World Records | 1970s

Anyone who has ever tried to publish can relate. :/
Posted by Brian on 02/05/19 at 12:44 PM
One of the it's-so-painful-we-have-to-make-it-a-joke 'games' for sf writers was to get personalized rejection slips for the same story from Analog, F&SF;, and Omni. Bonus points if they had wildly different reasons for the rejection.

One of my novels was bought by a publisher. They folded before we got to the final galleys (went out of business because they were trying to sell books like mine?).

My short stories have been in national genre magazines and e-zines, a couple have been in anthologies, and one was even nominated for a somewhat decent award, but no book publisher or agent wants to touch my stuff. Count to date: three novels complete and ready to go, another needs serious editing, two need an ending, and half a dozen sitting anywhere between 10K and 70K words.

Posted by Phideaux on 02/05/19 at 08:07 PM
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