A while back, I wrote a post urging budding writers to take a moment to overlook the often pessimistic view of ‘making it’ and look instead on the bright side for once. As a means of encouragement, I shared a number of examples where well-known books or authors pushed past hardships and rejection to reach the dizzying heights of success. It went down pretty well, and in the interest of spreading a little more positivity, I decided to follow it up with a few more cases.
- George Orwell was told that there would not be a market for his now classic book, Animal Farm.
- In a rejection letter for one of his books, John le Carré was told he “did not have a future” in writing.
- The iconic, world renowned book, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank was rejected 15 times before a publisher agreed to distribute it.
- Dr Seuss was told his work was “too different” to find a place in the market. He went on to become the 9th best-selling author of all time.
- The War of the Worlds was described as a “horrid book” but has never been out of publication since it was first released in 1898.
- Despite leading a troubled life and battling with ongoing mental illness, Virginia Woolf produced some of the most celebrated works of fiction in the English language.
- Rudyard Kipling was told he didn’t know how to use the English language properly. His work, The Jungle Book, is now one of the most recognisable stories of a generation.
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov was rejected by 5 publishers, who feared backlash for its controversial content.
- C.S. Lewis was repeatedly rejected for years but persisted regardless. The Chronicles of Narnia became a global phenomenon and has so far been translated into 47 different languages.
- Bestselling author James Patterson was turned away by 12 publishers before securing an agent.
- Veronica Roth became a best-selling author with the widely popular Divergent trilogy and had already secured a massive multi-movie deal by her early 20s.
- The cultural smash hit, Chicken Soup for the Soul, was turned down a whopping 140 times before it was picked up.
- A cutting rejection letter claimed The Wind in the Willows would “never sell”. It has since sold more than 25 million copies.
- Fearing her work would not be taken seriously, Mary Anne Evans decided to take on a pseudonym. Under her male pen-name, George Eliot, she solidified herself in the literature Hall of Fame, with her novels still discussed and enjoyed hundreds of years later.
There you have it; another glimpse into the lighter side of the seemingly cut-throat world of publishing. Work hard and keep chasing your dreams; success could be right around the corner.