Via literaryrejections.com:

  • Agatha Christie was rejected for five years — FIVE YEARS — before finally getting published. Now her books have sold more than $2 billion, surpassed only by William Shakespeare.
  • J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was rejected by 12 publishers until the 8-year-old daughter of a Bloomsbury editor read a few pages and demanded to read the rest.
  • Louis L’Amour was rejected 200 times before Bantam published him. He’s now the imprint’s bestselling author with over 330 million books sold.
  • Dr. Seuss was once told that his work was “too different.”
  • Zane Grey was once told, “You have no business being a writer and should give up.” He’s now sold 250 million books.
  • Chicken Soup For The Soul was rejected 140 times.
  • C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia was rejected for years.
  • Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code was rejected for being “badly written.”
  • J.D. Salinger’s initial submission of The Catcher In The Rye was rejected because a publisher said, “We feel that we don’t know the central character well enough.”
  • Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita was rejected by all major American publishers, one of whom supposedly told him, “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” He went to France, landed a deal, sold 5,000 copies almost instantly, and got offers from all the American publishers who’d at first rejected him.
  • Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit was rejected so many times that she ended up self-publishing the first 250 copies. Now it’s sold 45 million.
  • Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind was rejected 38 times.
  • The Diary of Anne Frank was rejected 15 times, one of which came with the note, “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book about the ‘curiosity’ level.”
  • William Paul Young’s The Shack was rejected 20 times. He self-published it. Now it’s sold 15 million copies.
  • L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz was rejected for being “too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature.”
  • Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi, one of my personal favorites, was rejected by five London publishers.
  • James Joyce’s Dubliners was rejected 22 times and then only sold 379 copies its first year, 120 of which were purchased by James Joyce.
  • Nicholas Sparks’s debut novel The Notebook was rejected by 24 literary agencies before one took a shot on it. It sold a week later for $1 million.
  • James Patterson’s debut novel The Thomas Berryman Number was rejected by 31 publishers. It won the Edgar Award for best new novel.
  • John Grisham’s debut novel A Time To Kill was rejected by 16 agencies and then 12 publishers.

Publishers also rejected F. Scott Fitzgerald (Gatsby), George Orwell (Animal House), and William Faulkner.

And there are even more.


Write on.