I read a really encouraging blog post by literary agent Natalie Fischer today. She started off by telling this story:
“I’m going to tell you a little story about a boy named Theodore Geisel (shh, now don’t interrupt if you’ve heard this one). Theodore had written a picture book manuscript called THE HOUSE ON MULBURRY STREET. He shopped it around. He sent it to twenty-two editors and, after that twenty-second rejection, Theodore decided he would go home, shred his manuscript, and give up his dream.
On the way home, he ran into an old friend of his, who had become an editor. His editor friend convinced him to let him see his manuscript. The editor changed the name of the book to THE CAT IN THE HAT, and Dr. Seuss was born.”
You can read the full blog post here (it’s really inspiring and encouraging): Don’t You Dare Give Up
The story about Dr. Seuss got me thinking about other famous authors who were rejected before making it big, like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King (who are now two of the richest and most famous authors around today). Since I’ve just started embarking on the road to publication (I just bought a new printer yesterday so I can start printing out my cover/query letters) I thought I might print out some of the rejection stats of big name authors to stick on the wall above my computer and keep me motivated through any future rejections. These are some of the ones I’ve come across:
J.K. Rowling‘s agency sent Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to 12 publishers, all of whom turned down the book.
Richard Bach‘s book Jonathan Livingston Seagull was rejected by 26 publishers.
Stephen King received more than 30 rejections for his first novel Carrie.
Beatrix Potter ended up self-publishing The Tale of Peter Rabbit because it was turned down so many times.
George Orwell received a rejection letter for Animal Farm stating ‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.’
I hope these stories of rejection, followed by success, will help keep my spirits up during the querying process.