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Writing Rejection & Other Funnies Part 3

1400fYou just received your fifth rejection letter for a book you submitted. You’re in good company. A few other writer’s received their fair share of rejection before “doing okay” with the whole writing thing.

LitRejections & Online College

From http://www.litrejections.com/best-sellers-initially-rejected/ and http://www.onlinecollege.org/2010/05/17/50-iconic-writers-who-were-repeatedly-rejected/

  • Rejected 1st 100 pagesJaws – His publishers Doubleday reject the first 100 pages. So the author Peter Benchley starts from scratch and Jaws sells 20 million.
  • 14 rejections – Despite 14 consecutive agency rejections Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight goes on to sell 17 million copies and spends 91 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.
  • “A long, dull novel about an artist.” Publisher rejects Lust For Life by Irving Stone. 25 million sales.
  • “An irresponsible holiday story that will never sell.” Rejection of The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame. The novel did sell: 25 million copies worldwide.
  • 20 rejectionsThor Heyerdahl believes his book Kon-Tiki: Across The Pacific is unique. 20 publishers disagree. The 21st takes it on and sells 20 million: one for each rejection.
  • 20 rejections – After 20 rejection letters, WM Paul Young self-publishes his novel The Shack. 15 million sales and a cultural phenomenon.
  • Three years of rejection letters are kept in a bag under her bed. The bag becomes so heavy that she is unable to lift it. But Meg Cabot does not dwell on the failure. Instead she keeps sending her manuscript out. It gets taken on and The Princess Diaries sells 15 million copies.
  • “Too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature.” L. Frank Baum persists and The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz sells 15 million.
  • Little, Brown & Company passes on a two book deal for Alice Walker. When complete her novel The Color Purple sells 10 million and wins The Pulitzer Prize.
  • “Unsaleable and unpublishable.” Publisher on Ayn Rand‘s The Fountainhead. Random House takes a chance on it. It sells 7 million copies in the US alone.
  • 25 rejectionsAfter 25 literary agents reject her debut manuscript, she mails it unsolicited to a small publisher in San Francisco, MacAdam/Cage. They believe it is a classic. Upon publication, the world agrees. Translated into over 33 languages and adapted into a movie, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger sells 7 million copies.
  • To prove how hard it is for new writers to break in, Jerzy Kosinski uses a pen name to submit his bestseller Steps to 13 literary agents and 14 publishers. All of them reject it, including Random House, who had published it.
  • To deal with publisher rejections, Hugh Prather decides to write a book about them in his early struggles and Notes To Myself sells 5 million.
  • 60 rejections – Kathryn Stockett on the worldwide best-seller: The Help. “It was rejected 60 times. But letter number 61 was the one that accepted me. Three weeks later we sold the book to Amy Einhorn Books.”
  • Self published Marcel Proust: rejected so much he decided to pay for publication himself.
  • Unpublishable: William Faulkner‘s book, Sanctuary: called unpublishable.
  • 3 years of rejection – Meg Cabot: The bestselling author of The Princess Diaries keeps a mail bag of rejection letters. The bag becomes so heavy that she is unable to lift it. But Meg Cabot does not dwell on the failure. Instead she keeps sending her manuscript out. It gets taken on and The Princess Diaries sells 15 million copies.
  • 16 rejectionsJohn Grisham‘s A Time to Kill: rejected by 16 publishers before finding an agent who eventually rejected him as well.
  • 21 rejections – After 21 rejections, Richard Hornberger switches to the pseudonym, Richard Hooker, and his debut novel becomes a phenomenal publishing success, spawning an Oscar-Winning Film Adaptation, and one of the most watched television shows in history: M*A*S*H.
  • 13 rejections Richard Adams’s two daughters encouraged him to publish Watership Down as a book, but 13 publishers didn’t agree. “Older children will not like it because its language is too difficult.” Watership Down is one of the fastest-selling books in history.
  • 200 rejections – Waited 8 yrsAlex Haley: The Roots author wrote every day for 8 years before finding success. His novel Roots becomes a publishing sensation, selling 1.5 million copies in its first seven months of release, and going on to sell 8 million. Such is the success that The Pulitzer Prize award the novel a Special Citation in 1977
  • 5 rejections – 5 London publishers turn it down. The little book finally finds a home: Life of Pi by Yann Martel, winning The Man Booker Prize in 2002.
  • 100 rejections – 100 literary agents and publishers reject it. Andersen Press does not and Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace wins the Costa Children’s Book Award.
  • 20 rejections – Rejected by 20 literary agents and publishers, one editor believes in the book and Catherine O’Flynn‘s What Was Lost wins the 2008 Costa Book Award.
  • Rejected by his agent because it is narrated by a dog, Garth Stein switches to Folio Literary Management and The Art Of Racing In The Rain sells for 7 figures.
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