Mmegi Blogs :: Famous writers and rejection
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Monday 20 August 2018, 14:43 pm.
Famous writers and rejection

Rejection sucks.
By Lauri Kubuitsile Fri 10 Nov 2017, 17:48 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Famous writers and rejection

It does not matter how it comes to you - rejection from that man you have had your eye on, rejection from the boss for the report you worked on all night, or rejection of your writing - it always hurts. For me there are two things that make the constant barrage of rejection that is continually falling on my head because of my writing tolerable: first, I know that it is part of this job, and second, I submit a lot, so just the basic laws of arithmetic dictate that at some point I MUST have an acceptance.

To help all of you with rejection, I thought this week we could take a moment to look at some of our most successful writers and their rejection stories. It always gives me strength, so I hope it helps you too.

1. Stephen King

In Stephen King’s book On Writing (if you have not read this and you call yourself a writer you better run – do not walk - to the bookstore immediately and buy it - then read it!) He explains how rejection of his first novel, Carrie, nearly put an end to his writing career before it even started. Thirty publishers rejected it! But King had an asset - his wife Tabby. She would not let him give up. He now has published 54 books and has sold over 350 million copies!

2. George Orwell

In 1944, Orwell submitted the manuscript for Animal Farm to the publisher Faber and Faber. At the time, T.S. Elliot was working there and he wrote the rejection letter for the book. He said in his letter: “…we have no conviction … that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation. …And after all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm - in fact, there could not have been an Animal Farm at all without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue), was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.”

Animal Farm was rejected by four publishers before


being accepted by Secker & Warburg in August 1945. It has gone on to sell 20 million copies and has been translated into Hungarian, Russian, Serbian and Ukrainian, among other languages.

3. Louisa May Alcott

One of my favourite books when I was a girl was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I must have read it 10 times and saw the old version of the movie another 10 times. The first publisher she sent it to, told her in the rejection letter “to stick to teaching”.

It was eventually published in 1868 by Robert Brothers, although initially it was published in two volumes, the second coming out in 1869. It was an immediate success. The first print run of 2,000 copies finished quickly and the publisher had difficulty keeping up with demand.

4. F Scott Fitzgerald

For any author who has received a reader’s report from a publisher in which shocking suggestions were made, I think they can appreciate this story. One publisher suggested to F. Scott Fitzgerald about his novel The Great Gatsby that “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.”

The book was eventually published in 1925 by Schribner’s and it got mixed reviews and did not sell very well. But after World War II it was resurrected and became a bestseller, though Fitzgerald was already dead. It has sold more than 25 million copies.

5. JK Rowling

I think most of us know that JK Rowling struggled to find a publisher for her Harry Potter books. Her first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was rejected by 12 publishers. Finally it ended up at Bloomsbury. The editor took it home to read, but instead he gave the opening chapters to his eight-year-old daughter. She loved it and wanted the rest of the book immediately. This decided his mind to give the book a chance.

The publisher warned Rowling, though, that she should keep her day job because she would never make any money by publishing children’s books. The Harry Potter books have sold 400 million copies and have been translated into 68 languages.

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