Don’t let failure stop you from achieving your goals. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Look, rejections happen, but so does that acceptance you’ve been hanging out for. Learn to push through those failures; squirrel them away in a file and don’t dwell on them. Dust yourself off and keep on going. Put away that rejected book and write another story with a better plot and more amazing characters.
Here are some famous authors who had to do just that. Thank goodness they did, too, or we may never have had their wonderful books on our shelves. Use the stories of these authors as examples to help you push through barriers of rejection and disappointment. There just might be a bestseller inside you waiting to be published.
1. Frank Herbert, author of one of the bestselling science fiction novels of this century, Dune, faced rejection after rejection from over 23 different publishers before his book was finally accepted for publication. It has won a Hugo and Nebula Award and was later adapted for film. (I once met Frank Herbert at a Supernova Convention).
2. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Windwas rejected by almost 40 publishers before eventually getting published. Yet a recent Harris poll discovered it was the second most popular book after The Bible.
3. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle was also rejected around 26 times before it was finally accepted for publication. It went on to become an international bestseller and was adapted into a movie. The book won numerous awards, including the Newberry Medal.
4. L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was rejected so many times that he kept a diary titled ‘A Record of Failure’ in which he collected all his rejection letters. Later, the book was translated into multiple languages and was adapted into a plethora of films, musicals and mini-series.
5. Twilight, by Stephanie Meyers, was rejected by 14 out of 15 literary agents but went on to become an outstanding novel, series and movie franchise. It also reached No. 5 on The New York Time’s Bestseller list.
6. Even J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stonewas rejected over 10 times by numerous publishing houses. One agent’s daughter, after she had read it, nagged her father to green-light the novel. It went on to become an international sensation with multiple movies and sundry merchandise.
7. Dr Seuss had 17 books rejected, which were not published, though he’s had many more that have. His very first book, And to think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times.
8. Isaac Asimov, the internationally famous science fiction writer, had several stories rejected which were never sold.
9. One editor told Ursula K. Le Guin that her story The Left Hand of Darknesswas ‘endlessly complicated’.
10. Agatha Christie waited four years for her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, to be published. It featured detective Hercule Poirot for the first time but was rejected 6 times. Although she died in 1976, her books, short stories and plays have gone on to earn multiple prestigious awards and have been adapted for film and stage.
11. The bestselling author of The Princess Diaries,Meg Cabot, keeps a mail bag of rejection letters.
12. Beatrix Potter ended up self-publishing her bestselling book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. It went on to become a household name and was adapted for TV and film.
13. Richard Hooker’s book titled A Novel About Three Army Doctorsinspired the film and TV hit show M*A*S*H, yet was rejected by 21 publishers. The film has been running as a successful series longer than the actual Korean War it was based on.
14. Stephen King became so frustrated with early drafts of Carriethat he threw them away. When he eventually finished it, it was then rejected 30 times. In the end, his wife helped him publish it.
15. Publishers of the outstandingly successful Lord of the Ringsby J. R. R. Tolkien were uncertain if it would work. They divided it into 3 books instead of the one enormous book Tolkien wanted. His publishers were still worried they’d lose money on this book, but in the first 6 weeks, they printed 3500 copies and then ran out. It has a huge fan base and when it was adapted for film, it won loads of awards.