You know what’s worse than being rejected by an agent or publisher? Being the agent or publisher that rejected Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, J.D. Salinger, or Dr. Seuss. These come from a site called LitRejections.com. Have faith, fledgling author, maybe your book is like one of these greats… or not. Sometimes a dog is just a dog. Make sure you are telling a good story. There is no excuse for bad punctuation, formatting, typos, or word mis-usage. Yes, you can break a few rules, but be prepared for rejections. We all get them. Wear yours like a badge of honor. Perseverance is part of the business.
- 5 years of continual rejection – After 5 years of continual rejection, the writer finally lands a publishing deal: Agatha Christie. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has sold more.
- 12 rejections – The Christopher Little Literary Agency receives 12 publishing rejections in a row for their new client, until the eight-year-old daughter of a Bloomsbury editor demands to read the rest of the book. The editor agrees to publish but advises the writer to get a day job since she has little chance of making money in children’s books. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected 12 times and J. K. Rowling was told “not to quit her day job.” And spawns a series where the last four novels consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history, on both sides of the Atlantic, with combined sales of 450 million.
- 200 rejections – Louis L’Amour received 200 rejections before Bantam took a chance on him. He is now their best ever selling author with 330 million sales.
- Too different – “Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.” A rejection letter sent to Dr. Seuss. 300 million sales and the 9th best-selling fiction author of all time.
- “You have no business being a writer and should give up.” Zane Grey ignores the advice. Zane Grey got this from an editor rejecting one of his early novels: “I do not see anything in this to convince me you can write either narrative or fiction.” There are believed to be over 250 million copies of his books in print.
- 140 rejections – 140 rejections stating “Anthologies don’t sell” until the Chicken Soup for the Soul series by Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen sells 125 million copies.
- The years of rejection do not break his spirit. He only becomes more determined to succeed. When he eventually lands a publishing deal, such is the demand for his fiction that it is translated into over 47 languages, as The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis goes on to sell over 100 million copies.
- “It is so badly written.” The author tries Doubleday instead and his little book makes an impression. The Da Vinci Code sells 80 million.
- 2 yrs of rejection – After two years of rejections stating that her fiction would have no readership, Reilly and Lee agree to publish The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo, launching the career of the best-selling author Judy Blume. Combined sales: 80 million.
- Sold only 800 copies – Having sold only 800 copies on its limited first release, the author finds a new publisher and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho sells 75 million.
- “We feel that we don’t know the central character well enough.” The author does a rewrite and his protagonist becomes an icon for a generation as The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger sells 65 million.
- 5 rejections – 5 publishers reject L.M. Montgomery‘s debut novel. Two years after this rejection, she removes it from a hat box and resubmits. L.C. Page & Company agree to publish Anne of Green Gables and it goes on to sell 50 million copies.
- “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” Shunned by all the major publishers, the author goes to France and lands a deal with Olympia Press. The first 5000 copies quickly sell out. But the author Vladimir Nabokov now sees his novel, Lolita, published by all those that initially turned it down, with combined sales of 50 million.
- “Nobody will want to read a book about a seagull.” Richard Bach‘s Jonathan Livingston Seagull goes on to sell 44 million copies.
- “Undisciplined, rambling and thoroughly amateurish writer.” But Jacqueline Susann refuses to give up and her book the Valley of the Dolls sells 30 million.
More to come…