Print Edition - 2017-10-10  |  Life & Style

Rejected ‘too gay’ Novel receives crowdfunding support

- The guardian, LONDON

Oct 10, 2017-

A novel that was rejected more than 30 times by publishers for being “too gay” has been inundated with backing from names including David Walliams, Mark Gatiss and SJ Watson after its author turned to crowdfunding.

Matt Cain’s The Madonna of Bolton tells the story of Charlie Matthews, who falls in love with Madonna on his ninth birthday. 

The obsession “sees him through some tough times in life: being persecuted at school; fitting in at a posh university; a glamorous career in London; finding boyfriends; getting rid of boyfriends; growing up and family heartbreak”.

Launched on the crowdfunding site Unbound this week, it has already racked up 60 percent of what it needs to be published, with backers also including One Day author David Nicholls and the bestselling writer Lisa Jewell.

Cain, the editor of Attitude magazine, said the support for his book—which is on course to be the fastest-funded novel on Unbound—showed there was a market for 

a commercial novel about a gay man, even though publishers rejected it as “too working class, too 80s, too immersed in pop culture, and too gay”.

The Guardian has seen the rejection letters, including some from major UK publishers. One called Cain’s book “a little niche”, while another said that “it’s just such a tricky area of the market that I’m not sure this story has a strong enough hook to really appeal to a mass-market readership”. One also said that “it was difficult to envisage who the reader might be”.

 “Nobody comes out on email as saying it’s too gay, it’s kind of dressed up—the thing about homophobia is it’s often covert. 

When my agent has phone conversations, they don’t say ‘We don’t like it’, they say ‘It just won’t sell’. I just don’t believe that that’s the case,” said Cain. He was clear that the book was not aimed solely at gay men—“It’s a family drama more than anything else”. But “even if you just take the gay people, do not erase us as a market,” he said. “Attitude sells more copies every issue than it takes for a book to become a bestseller.”

Published: 10-10-2017 08:34

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