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Writing Rejection & Other Funnies Part 4

1406Rejection slips getting you down, Bunky? Well, stand back, because a few the best have gotten some of the most.  Keep submitting, keep writing. Keep editing and re-writing. Check out http://www.right-writing.com/rejection.html.

  • An endless nightmare. I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book.” Publisher rejects The War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells. It is soon published in 1898, and has been in print ever since.
  • Our united opinion is entirely against the book. It is very long, and rather old-fashioned.” Publisher rejects Moby Dick by Herman Melville. It is later published by Harper & Brothers, who release a first print run of 3000 copies. Only 50 of these sell during the author’s lifetime.
  • An absurd story as romance, melodrama or record of New York high life.” Yet publication sees The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald become a best-selling classic.
  • Rejected by leading publishers, the 21-year-old finally persuades a small publishing company Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, to take a chance on her debut. They agree, but do not put her name on the cover, and only print 500 copies in 1818. Booksellers only bought 25 of them. Despite a named credit in 1822, sales did not improve, until a 3rd edition was published by Henry Colburn & Richard Bentley in 1831. Word of mouth combined with some of the finest prose ever written in the genre, quickly sees Frankenstein by Mary Shelley become a best-seller.
  • The American public is not interested in China.Pearl S Buck‘s The Good Earth becomes the best-selling US novel two years running in 1931/32, and wins The Pulitzer Prize in the process.
  • 17 rejectionsPatrick Dennis, in 1956, becomes the first author in history to have 3 books ranked on the New York Times best-seller list at the same time. He had worked through publishers in alphabetical order. The one that finally agreed to take him on: Vanguard Press.
  • It’s Poland and the rich Jews again.” Editor at Alfred A. Knopf publishing house rejects Isaac Singer. His book Satan in Goray becomes a best-seller, and the author himself later wins the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978.
  • 30 rejections – publishers tell Laurence Peter that his book The Peter Principle will never sell. In 1969, a mere 18 months later it is a number #1 best-seller.
  • This will set publishing back 25 years.” Rejecting The Deer Park. Its author Norman Mailer goes on to win The Pulitzer Prize, twice.
  • Every last publisher in England rejected my first two books.” So Simon Kernick writes a third and The Business Of Dying lands him a publishing deal with Bantam.
  • Utterly untranslatable.” Jorge Luis Borges tries a different publisher. He wins 50 Literary Prizes and dies with his books in many languages.
  • 23 rejectionsFrank Herbert finally lands a publisher, and Dune becomes the best-selling science-fiction novel of all time.
  • Rejected by all publishers in the UK and US, the author self-publishes his novel in Florence, Italy, using his own press in 1928. After being banned for nearly 30 years, Grove Press publish the controversial work in 1959. A year later Penguin finally launch the UK edition. The book quickly sells millions, as Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence becomes a worldwide best-seller.
  • Rejected by several publishers Jonathan Littell‘s Les Bienveillantes becomes the number #1 best-seller in France and wins The Goncourt Literary Prize.
  • Her literary agent believes in her. The publishers of New York do not. So Emily Giffin flies to London to write Something Borrowed and it becomes a New York Times best-seller.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as an editor at Doubleday sees potential in Dorothy West‘s unfinished novel The Wedding and it later becomes a best-seller.
  • 24 rejections – 24 literary agencies turned down The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. The 25th did not and sold it to Time Warner one week later for $1 million dollars.
  • Rejection slips could wallpaper my room.” Dennis Kimbro on Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice used in seminars throughout the US.
  • Despite initial rejections, E.C.Osondu persists with his book Waiting and it wins the 2009 African Booker.
  • Rejected by everyone except Heinemann. Chinua Achebe‘s Things Fall Apart becomes the most widely-read book in modern African literature.
  • “I rack my brains why a chap should need thirty pages to describe how he turns over in bed before going to sleep.” French editor rejects Remembrance of Things Pasts by Marcel Proust. Now regarded as a literary classic, its word count would be a challenge for any editor: 1.5 millionmaking it the longest novel in the history of literature.
  • 31 rejections – in a row turn down The Thomas Berryman Number. It wins the Edgar for Best Novel becoming a best-seller for James Patterson. An author with 19 consecutive number #1′s on the New York Times best-seller list and sales of 220 million.
  • We found the heroine boring.” Mary Higgins Clark switches genre to suspense and her second book gets a $1.5 million advance. She is now on a $60 million book deal.
  • This author is beyond psychiatric help. Do not publish.” Publisher rejects Crash by J.G. Ballard. The author immediately declares this as sign of “complete artistic success.” The novel goes on to inspire countless songs, and the film adaptation wins the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1996.
  • 28 rejections – 16 literary agencies and 12 publishers reject A Time To Kill. Its modest print run of 5000 quickly sells out, as it goes on to become a best-seller for its author: John Grisham. Combined sales of 250 million.
  • The Alfred A. Knopf publishing house turned down: Jack Kerouac, George Orwell, Sylvia Plath, and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.
  • The E.E. Cummings best-seller The Enormous Room has a dedication page ‘With No Thanks To’ all 15 publishers who turned it down.
  • Hopelessly bogged down and unreadable.” The 1968 letter from an editor did not deter the author, Ursula K. Le Guin, as her book The Left Hand of Darkness goes on to become just the first of her many best-sellers, and is now regularly voted as the second best fantasy novel of all time, next to The Lord of the Rings.
  • 76 rejections – Taking on the advice of his 76 rejections Jasper Fforde writes a new book The Eyre Affair and it becomes an instant New York Times best-seller.
  • Good God, I can’t publish this.” So it finds itself at the offices of publishers Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith instead, who immediately spot the talent of its author, and in 1931 propel him and his controversial, Sanctuary, into the literary limelight. The author, William Faulkner, goes on to become one of the most critically praised novelists of all time.
  • 600 rejections – The estate of best-seller Jack London in San Francisco, the House Of Happy Walls has a collection of some of the 600 rejections he received before selling a single story.
  • Tony Hillerman has sold millions of books about a Navajo police officer working on the reservation. An editor wrote him, “If you insist on rewriting this, get rid of all that Indian stuff.” on his best-selling Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels.
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