In preparation for what I fear is going to be an imminent rejection, I thought I’d console myself with a list of famous rejected authors who have since gone on to achieve superstardom in the publishing world. Happily, there are quite a few of them.
Here are some biggies:
- Beatrix Potter had so much trouble finding a publisher for The Tale of Peter Rabbit, she resorted to publishing it herself.
- Madeline L’Engle received 26 rejections for her book A Wrinkle in Time which went on to become one of the best-selling children’s books of all time.
- 18 publishers thought Richard Bach was a nutter for writing a book about a seagull. Jonathan Livingston Seagull was eventually picked up in 1972 and sold more than a million copies in that year alone.
- William Golding racked up 20 rejections for Lord of the Flies before it was published.
- It took John Grisham three years to write his first novel A Time to Kill which was rejected 25 times. His books have since sold over 250 million copies worldwide.
- Stephen King received dozens of rejections before his novel Carrie was published. The novel would never have been finished if it weren’t for his wife, Tabitha. In a fit of despondency, he had thrown the manuscript in the bin. His wife fished it out and persuaded him to carry on, saying; “You’ve got something here, I really think you do”.
- Meg Cabot, bestselling author of The Princess Diaries, was rejected for years: “I kept all my rejection letters in a US postal mail bag under my bed. I vowed when I got published I would a) sneer at everyone who’d rejected me, and b) show the bag to school kids and tell them never to give up on their dreams.”
- Judy Blume, who has sold in excess of 80 million copies of her books, originally received nothing but rejections for two years: “I would go to sleep at night feeling that I’d never be published. But I’d wake up in the morning convinced I would be.”
- J.K. Rowling submitted Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to 12 publishing houses and was famously rejected by giants like Penguin and HarperCollins. In the end Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, accepted the book…but only because the CEO’s eight-year old daughter begged him to.
- The Dr. Seuss book, And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected for being “too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant selling”. He did OK though – today he is ranked 9th in the world’s bestselling fiction authors with an estimated 500 million worldwide sales.
Ah…I feel much better now.