Rejection is one of the hardest things a writer must face. They’ve created what they feel is a work of art. They send out to agents and publishers, sure someone will love it. Then in return, they get coldly worded form letters and rude rejections that impune their talent and personal life.

There are probably hundreds of writers who were never published because they lost faith in themselves due to rejection. There are a number of reasons publisher reject work. Often they just don’t have the time to read the work or feel the writing isn’t something they personally interested in. For whatever reason you have been rejected, DON’T GIVE UP! Here’s a list of authors who were rejected and in some cases the reasons why. These authors enjoy worldwide acclaim while the publishers lament the one that got away.

  1. J.K. Rowling – Was a waitress working in a dead-end job, writing her book on napkins and in her home which had no heat. No matter how bad you feel your job is going, at least you weren’t one of the 12 editors that told her that no one would buy a book about whiny pre-pubescent children. Her editor said she should have a day job because nobody could make a living writing children’s books.
  2. William Golding- His book “Lord of the Flies” was rejected 20 times before being published.
  3. John LeCarre – His first novel “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold” was rejected and the publishers told him he had no future in writing.
  4. Wiliam Saroyan – Was turned down an astounding 7,000 times before he sold even one short story.
  5. Jack Kerouac – Was told his work was unpublishable because it was too pornographic.
  6. Kenneth Graham – Authored “The Wind and the Willows”. It was rejected all over the US and finally published in the UK.
  7. James Baldwin – Publishers rejected “Geovanni’s Room” as “hopelessly bad”.
  8. Ursula K. Le Guin – She was told the book “The Left Hand of Darkness” was “endlessly complicated by details of reference and information” by one publisher. The rejection letter itself was so poorly written that I could hardly believe that a publisher sent it.
  9. Louisa May Alcott – She was literally told to “Stick to teaching, Don’t quit your day job.”
  10. Agatha Christie – Her first book remained unpublished with her publisher for 4 years before it was released.
  11. Zane Grey – Got so tired of rejection he self-published his first book.
  12. Chicken Soup for the Soul – The first book was rejected 134 times.
  13. William Faulkner- “Sanctuary” was called unpublishable.
  14. Meg Cabot – The writer of “The Princess Diaries” keeps a mail bag of all of her rejection letters.
  15. Richard Back – Eight publishers told him a book about a seagull was just ridiculous before anyone published “Johnathan Livingston Seagull” was published.
  16. Beatrix Potter – Had to publish her beautiful tales herself.
  17. John Grisham – “A Time to Kill” was rejected by 16 publishers and an agent .
  18. Richard Hoker – “M*A*S*H” was denied by 21 publishers and it spawned a famous television show.
  19. D. H. Lawrence – He was devastated when his book “Sons and Lovers” was repeatedly rejected.
  20. James Patterson – That’s right – the Godfather of Suspense was rejected by more than a dozen publishers before he found an agent in the newspaper who sold his first book.
  21. E.E. Cummings – Outed his rejectors in his book “No Thanks.”
  22. Judy Bloom- She says she was repeatedly rejected and still has a hard time looking at Highlights magazine.
  23. Rudyard Kipling – Was told he had no grasp of the English language.
  24. Steven King – Steven King almost gave up writing after “Carrie” was rejected thirty times. He was so angry that he threw it in the garbage, from which his wife rescued it.
  25. Anne Frank – Imagine being the 15 idiots who thought that her diary wasn’t publishable.
  26. Margaret Mitchell – She tried 38 times to get “Gone with the Wind” published. Thank God it was.
  27. Frank Herbert – Dune was rejected 21 times. I’m glad the 22nd had the same taste in sci-fi that I do.
  28. L. Frank Baum – He was told that no one wanted to read such unrealistic tripe. “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” sold 3 million before it went into the public domain and people are still reading it with their children.
  29. Tom Clancy – he was an insurance salesman. It took him years to get published and he is considered the world’s most popular thriller novelist.
  30. And even the great Hemmingway was told by one particularly rude publisher that “The Sun Also Rises” was tedious and offensive.
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