List Of Best Selling Authors That Were Once Rejected By Publishers
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List Of Best Selling Authors That Were Once Rejected By Publishers

There are many best-selling authors that were once rejected by publishers.

Rejection by publishers can bring a sense of disappointment, frustration, and self doubt, especially if you had high hopes for a particular piece of work.

I earned my writing stripes with a large man’s shoebox overflowing with rejection slips… more than 100 before I got my first, ‘Yes, we want this,’ accompanied by a check. – Holly Lisle

What kind of writer are you? Are you the kind that sends in their manuscript as soon as they believe they have done a great job or the type that takes their time to ensure that their work is polished over and over before sending in their manuscripts to publishers?

Read: How Long Should A Cover Letter Be?

Whichever kind you are, the feeling of rejection you feel when your clearly thought out, properly written and polished manuscript is REJECTED is potent and universal. Some feelings of rejection are deeper than others, but you get my drift. Your natural reaction to several rejections would most likely be to give up, but you should never give up.

Your blockbuster story could still be a blockbuster. You may just need to fine tune it a little more or probably get your manuscript to the right publisher. Either way, to encourage you, check out a list of best-selling authors who were once rejected by publishers –

Agatha Christie

After 5 years of continual rejection, the writer finally lands a publishing deal: Agatha Christie. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has sold more.

Louis L’Amour

Louis L’Amour received 200 rejections before Bantam took a chance on him. He is now their best ever selling author with 330 million sales. 

Zane Grey

You have no business being a writer and should give up.” Zane Grey ignores the advice. There are believed to be over 250 million copies of his books in print. 

C.S. Lewis

The years of rejection did not break C.S. Lewis spirit. He only became more determined to succeed. When he eventually landed a publishing deal, the demand for his fiction was so great that it is translated into over 47 languages. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis goes on to sell over 100 million copies.

Dan Brown

It is so badly written.” – This is the review that was once given to The Da Vinci Code. The book went on to sell 80 million copies.

J.D. Salinger

We feel that we don’t know the central character well enough.” The author does a rewrite and his protagonist becomes an icon for a generation as The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger sells 65 million.

L.M. Montgomery

5 publishers rejects L.M. Montgomery‘s debut novel. Two years after this rejection, she removes it from a hat box and resubmits. L.C. Page & Company agrees to publish Anne of Green Gables and it goes on to sell 50 million copies.

Vladimir Nabokov

I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” Shunned by all the major publishers, the author goes to France and lands a deal with Olympia Press. The first 5000 copies quickly sold out. But the author Vladimir Nabokov now sees his novel, Lolita, published by all those that initially turned it down, with combined sales of 50 million.

Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times she decided to self-publish 250 copies. It has now sold 45 million.

Richard Bach

Nobody will want to read a book about a seagull.” Richard Bach‘s Jonathan Livingston Seagull goes on to sell 44 million copies.

Jacqueline Susann

Undisciplined, rambling and thoroughly amateurish writer.” But Jacqueline Susann refuses to give up and her book. The Valley of the Dolls sells 30 million.

Kenneth Grahame

An irresponsible holiday story that will never sell.” Rejection of The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame. The novel did sell 25 million copies worldwide.

Peter Benchley

His publishers Doubleday reject the first 100 pages. So the author Peter Benchley starts from scratch and Jaws sells 20 million.

Thor Heyerdahl

Thor Heyerdahl believes his book Kon-Tiki: Across The Pacific is unique. 20 publishers disagree. The 21st takes it on and sells 20 million: one for each rejection.

William Golding

An absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.” Rejection letter sent to William Golding for The Lord Of The Flies. The book made 15 million sales.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

An absurd story as romance, melodrama or record of New York high life.” Yet publication sees The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald become a best-selling classic.

So if you are among the authors that were once rejected by publishers, don’t fret, because rejection is an inevitable part of every writer’s journey, and it can be challenging.

Are you fired up? Are you ready to keep polishing your writing and giving it the best shot you’ve got? Don’t ever give up on yourself. A lot of people may not visualize your idea at first, but don’t give up. Keep pushing and you will be glad you did.

List culled from

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