It’s good to remember that every author receives rejections – it allows us to realise that we are not alone. I have found some numbers of rejections from an article by Emily Temple at Lit Hub. I am just going to highlight a few. This helps us to remember it can take a long time and a large amount of perseverance to achieve our writing dreams.
Here are a few authors mentioned:
- Lisa Genova, who authored Still Alice received about 100 rejections (or non-replies) from agents.
After getting little feedback or response from querying, Genova opted to self-publish her book. Eventually, it was acquired and re-published by Gallery Books, (an imprint of Simon & Schuster). Following this it spent 40 weeks on the New York Times best seller list. In 2015, Julianne Moore won an Academy Award for portraying the eponymous Alice.
- Sergio de la Pava, authored A Naked Singularity and received 88 rejections from agents, after all of these rejections de la Pava’s first novel, he self-published it. His wife Susanna brought his book to writer Scott Bryan Wilson, who then showed it to Levi Stahl, who was publicity director at University of Chicago Press, subsequently he showed it to Margaret Hivnor, one of the editors. It was then published by Uni of Chicago Press and it won the PEN/Robert W Bingham prize for debut fiction in 2013.
So you can see self-publishing, or publishing independently can lead to being published traditionally as well. 🙂
- Kathryn Stockett,who wrote The Help received 60 rejections from agents. It was number 61 that accepted her. She had written for five years, and experienced 3.5 years of rejection, agent Susan Ramer, took her book on. A few weeks later, Susan had sold, The Help to Amy Einhorn Books. The book was on the New York Times bestseller list for over 100 weeks, has sold several million copies, and has been made into an award winning film.
- Stephen King with Carrie received 30 rejections from publishers until one day his agent sent a message saying Doubleday had accepted it. He received $2500 advance and subsequently the paperback rights sold for 16 times as much. Then finally, one of the most literary careers of modern times was launched.
- John Grisham, A Time to Kill:received 28 rejections, until Wynwood Press published the novel in 1988. Grisham said that it was difficult to sell his first 5000 copies. But after he published The Firm in 1991, the book was reprinted and sold some 1.5 million copies, and then became a movie.
- Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife this book received 25 rejections from agents. Then, Niffenegger sent the book to a small San Francisco publisher, where an editor loved it. It then became a best-seller and, of course, a film.
- Joseph Heller, Catch-22, strangely received 22 rejections J Apparently, one editor wrote a scathing comment that even though it was meant to be funny, or intelligently satirical, it was neither. Now, we know this book is highly regarded around the world.
- William Golding, Lord of the Flies, this received 21 rejections and is now regarded as one of the best novels ever written.
This is not an exhaustive list. If you want to check Temple’s full article with more authors; click on the link below. I think it is good to remind ourselves that all authors are in this situation at some point in their career. We have to continue on and persevere. Go well everyone, and happy writing maybe your big break is just around the corner! Who knows? J Suz