I had to smile when I saw this in The Times, an extract of the new introduction Salman Rushdie has written for Midnight's Children, 25 years after its first publication:
"I reached the end of Midnight’s Children in mid-1979 and sent it to my friend and editor Liz Calder at Jonathan Cape. I afterwards learned that the first reader’s report had been brief and forbiddingly negative. “The author should concentrate on short stories until he has mastered the novel form.” Liz asked for a second report, and this time I was luckier, because the second reader, Susannah Clapp, was enthusiastic; as, after her, was another eminent publishing figure, the editor Catherine Carver."
Just imagine how many wonderful novels and Salman Rushdie types have been drowned by powerful first readers.