memorable rejections

After five years of continual rejections, Agatha Christie lands a publishing deal. Her sales now number $2 billion. Only Shakespeare has sold more.

J.K. Rowling’s literary agent receives 12 publishing rejections before the eight-year-old daughter of a Bloomsbury editor demands to read the rest of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The editor agrees to publish it but advises the writer to get a day job.

“Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling”—rejection sent to Dr. Seuss.

“Anthologies don’t sell was the gist of 140 rejections sent to authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul, which sold 125 million copies.

“I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years,” was advice given to Vladimir Nabokov whose Lolita has sold 50 million copies.

“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level,” reads a rejection of The Diary of Anne Frank.

All of these stories and more are found at The site is a fun read.

I like author May Sarton’s advice to writers: “Hold on, trust your talent, and work hard.”

Here’s another quote, this one from 64-year-old Diana Nyad who conquered the 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida on her fifth attempt: “We should never, ever give up.”

And a Nyad quote for those of us still writing after “all these years,” –”You never are too old to chase your dreams.”

Nyad said that swimming “looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”

You could say the same about writing. Writing buddies are invaluable, especially when the rejections roll in. Believe in yourselves, writing buddies. We believe in you.

How do you handle rejections? Please register on the site so that you can comment below. If you have trouble registering, please contact us. Thanks and happy writing!


4 thoughts on “memorable rejections”

  1. I try to remind myself with each rejection, particularly the impersonal robo letters often received. “It is an opinion, everyone has one.” The rejection letters that propel me forward are those with the personal P.S from the editor, genuine feedback, or request for additional work.

    We each have our own distinct voice and style, not everyone will embrace what we write, but some will and when they do all the rejections in the past become a distant memory.

  2. Thanks, Sheila. It’s the belief that some will embrace what we write that I need to focus on rather than rejections of the past. Accent the positive!

  3. I try to remind myself that publishers are like grocery shoppers: it doesn’t matter how good your orange is if the shopper is looking for apples. We not only have to grow the best orange we can; we have to find shoppers who are actually LOOKING for oranges!

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