Rejection is part of life and almost everyone has endured the pain and frustration at being rejected either professionally or personally, but how a person deals with it, is the defining point in how one’s life will be shaped. It is hard to imagine that even some of the best selling authors were rejected by publishers and struggled for years to establish a name for themselves in the literary world. We have put together a list of 15 authors who did not let rejection stand in their path as authors and defied all the doubters.
Beatrix Potter had so many rejections for The Tale of Peter Rabbit, that she finally decided to publish it herself, initially printing 250 copies. The tale of the mischievous rabbit and his companions are still bestsellers, with over 45 million copies sold worldwide.
Plath suffered rejection a number of times, including for The Bell Jar – when it was submitted under a false name and even when they knew who the author really was. She once said of her rejection “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”
The San Francisco Examiner told Kipling “I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.” The Just So Stories were published in 1902, telling the story of how the Leopard got his spots and how the Rhinoceros got his skin (among other stories).
Fitzgerald was told “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.” He disagreed, and The Great Gatsby has become one of the great works of American fiction.
Rowling’ Harry Potter was rejected by twelve publishers before Bloomsbury finally picked up the book – and that was because the eight year old daughter of an editor read it, and demanded to know how it ended. She was also told to get a day job, because she wouldn’t be able to make a living out of writing children’s books. Over 450 million copies have been sold so far.
The manuscript for Gone With The Wind, which eventually become a Pulitzer Prize winning novel was rejected by almost 40 publishers before it got published.
The Life Of Pi was rejected by numerous London publishing houses. It was finally accepted by for publication in Canada. The book went on to sell over ten million copies worldwide and win a Man Booker Prize.
Nabokov’s Lolita went through so many publishers that he started looking outside the US for publishers. When Lolita finally did get published in the US, it was an instant bestseller.
Melville’s Moby Dick was rejected for being long and old fashioned. Even when it was accepted for publication, very few copies were printed, and even less sold (during Melville’s lifetime).
Joyce’s Ulysses was judged obscene and rejected by several publishers.
Anne of Green Gables was turned down by several publishers, so Montgomery stored the manuscript away in a hat box for two years. Then she decided to submit it to once more place where it got accepted.
Gilbert had six years of rejections when she first started submitting to literary journals and magazines.
Louisa May Alcott
“Stick To Teaching.” Is the response Alcott received to her book Little Women. It went on to be published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, and remains a classic nearly 150 years later.
“…for your own sake do not publish this book.” An advice that Lawrence ignored, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover was soon published.
Christie had to wait four years for her first book to be published.