Rejection Rocks!

Getting a rejection letter for your book is a lot like a swift punch in the face from you mother who’s supposed to love you no matter what! It’s shocking. I mean you knew it might happen (the odds are it would) but some part of you was sure that the book was ready! And you love it! So why doesn’t anyone else?

The truth is, there’s a hundred reasons why an editor/agent might pass on your book. Maybe they hate stories about dragons. Maybe they have a similar story already on their list, or the voice isn’t strong enough, or they’ve never had a painful breakup and they just can’t relate. What ever the reasons, it doesn’t mean you should stop writing.

In the face of my current rejections I thought I’d compile a list of famous writers who were one day in the same boat as the rest of us, that’s right, wondering what to do as the stacks of rejection letters began to pile up. Could you imaging what the literary world would be like if these guys gave up?


Dr. Seuss – 27 publishers rejected his first book To Think I Saw it On Mulberry Street.

J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone was rejected 12 times.

Meg Cabbot – 17 rejections for The Princess Diaries.

Stephanie Meyer – 9 rejection letters and 5 no-responses for Twilight.

Steven King – 30 rejection letters for his fist novel Carrie.

Madeline L’Engle29 rejections for A Wrinkle in Time.

Alex Hayley – Author of Roots received 208 rejection letters!

William Goldling –Author of Lord of The Flies got 20 rejection letters.

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen: Authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul received 134 rejections.

John Grisham – 16 rejections for A Time to Kill.

Judy Blume – Judy Blume received nothing but rejections for two years and can’t look at Highlights without wincing.

And ain’t life a bitch… Jerzy Kosinski won the 1969 National Book Award for his novel Steps. Eight years later, he submitted his novel again under a different title and byline to test the plight of new writers. Thirteen agents and 14 publishers rejected it, including Random House which had published it eight years before.

Also check out these Letters from the Editor about why some of the above authors (and others) books were considered un-publishable.


Keep writing everyone! I like to remind myself that  no one will every write the book I am writing, and if I don’t write it…then it will be gone forever.

20 thoughts on “Rejection Rocks!

  1. It’s always good to read stuff like this, because rejection SUCKS and it makes me massively discouraged. Thanks for a good post reminding me not to give up the fight!

  2. OH MY GOODNESS YES! rejections are so PERSONAL…and stories are universally personal (?) so just revise and keep at it! same with ART… make sure it’s the best of YOU and keep submitting…. 🙂

  3. I think it’s interesting to read things like this, but at the same time it makes me think…big deal. I’ve gotten over a hundred rejection letters. So, in my eyes, 12 rejections or 27 isn’t really a lot. But, I can totally relate to the Judy Blume thing. (That’ll be me some day!)

  4. Jasmine,

    Perhaps these numbers will make you feel better:

    Alex Hayley – 208 rejections

    Louise L’Amore – 350 rejections

    Jack London – 600 rejections

    There’s more statistics out there too! Keep writing!

  5. This was a great post. One of my pet peeves is when an author frets and threatens to give up after work has been sent out only a couple of weeks. Then, when it is rejected, totally give up writing.

    My motto: “The only guaranteed way to fail is to quit.”

    I wrote for eleven years before any of my work saw print. But I never once, NEVER, gave up. And now I’m under contract for two books, and very likely a series.

    You must believe in yourself and in your work!


  6. Great post – very timely. Just received a rejection letter that was all the more cutting in that it was considered. Ouch!

    I recommend people click on the link to the rejection letters.

    Also good comments – especially kdmccrite2 – thanks to all.

  7. “Thirteen agents and 14 publishers rejected it, including Random House which had published it eight years before.”

    Not only corporate amnesia, but the mere fact that it was eight years later may have had something to do with that. And his book already existed and had changed the reading environment. How many groundbreaking rock songs would be regarded as hopelessly simplistic today, but we would not have today if those songs had not been produced yesterday.

    Marc Vun Kannon

  8. Pingback: Blame… a) Canada? b)it on the boogie? c)a moment of madness? « Blackwatertown

  9. Pingback: Emotionally Positive Rejection | Unleaded - Fuel for Writers

  10. I commented back when this was first posted, about receiving over a hundred rejections. I just wanted to let everyone know my novel finally sold! SOUL OF THE SEA will be available through kNight Romance Publishing on May 10, 2011

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