Thursday, September 24, 2009

Famous Rejections

I came across a folder of rejection letters from 2005, the year I went in search of an agent. I’d almost forgotten about this painful compilation of letters, but I pulled it out and began to sift through the form letters, the brief comments, and the manuscript requests. I signed with Jessica Faust of Book Ends that year and I am just as grateful to her for taking a chance on me today, as I was the day she offered representation.

Thousands of folks have spent months and months crafting a novel, short story collection, or poem in hopes of being published. Most of the aspiring writers I’ve spoken to aren’t focused on what they can earn from said publication. They simply want their work to “make it.” To be chosen.

I thought I’d pass on some inspiration. Here are a few famous writers who were rejected many times before finally being accepted by an agent and/or publisher:

1. Beatrix Potter had to self-publish because no one would accept her Tale of Peter Rabbit.

2. Dr. Seuss’ writing was called “too different” so he was rejected by many publishers.

3. Mr. Rudyard Kipling was told that he didn’t have a good grasp of the English language.

4. One of my favorite books, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was passed over 29 times.

5. In the 1960’s, Mary Higgins Clark was told that the heroine of one of her books was “boring.”

6. An editor told H.G. Wells that his book read like “an endless nightmare.”

7. Not one of Emily Dickinson’s poems was published while she lived.

8. Jack London’s work was labeled as depressing.

9. What about Orwell’s Animal Farm? He was told that animal stories don’t sell in the States.

10. And poor William Faulkner received the rejection, “My God! I can’t publish this!”

There, you see! If these writers had been influenced by their rejection letters they might have faded into obscurity. Hang in there! Keep writing and keep submitting.

Anyone have a juicy rejection letter line or phrase you’d care to share?