Famous Authors Whose Works Were Rejected


Famous Authors Whose Works Were Rejected

By Natalie Bright


Stephen King

Mr. King received dozens of rejections for his first novel, Carrie; he kept them tidily nailed to a spike under a timber in his bedroom.

One of the publishers sent Mr. King’s rejection with these words: We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.

William Golding

Mr. Golding’s Lord of the Flies was rejected by 20 publishers.  One denounced the future classic with these words: an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.

Anne Frank

According to one publisher, The Diary of Anne Frank was scarcely worth reading:

The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.

15 publishers also rejected The Diary of Anne Frank.

Joseph Heller

One publisher wrote of Mr. Heller’s Catch-22:

I haven’t the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say…Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level.

J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (later Sorceror’sStone was rejected by a dozen publishers, including biggies like Penguin and HarperCollins. Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, only took it on at the behest of the CEO’s eight-year old daughter, who begged her father to print the book.

George Orwell

One publisher rejected Mr. Orwell’s submission, Animal Farm, with these words:

It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.

Tony Hillerman

Mr. Hillerman, now famous for his Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels, was initially told by publishers to Get rid of all that Indian stuff.

John Grisham

Mr. Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, was rejected by a dozen publishers and 16 agents before breaking into print and launching Mr. Grisham’s best-selling career.

Sylvia Plath

According to one publisher, Ms. Plath’s ability as a poet was nothing special: There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.

Irving Stone

Mr. Stone’s Lust for Life was rejected 16 times, once with this helpful synopsis: A long, dull novel about an artist.

The book went on to sell over 25 million copies.

Frank Herbert

Dune was rejected 20 times before successfully reaching print – and becoming one of the most beloved science fiction novels of all time

Richard Adams

Mr. Adams’ Watership Down was rejected since older children wouldn’t like it because its language was too difficult.

 Madeleine L’Engle

Ms. L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was rejected by 26 publishers before finally breaking into print. It went on to win the 1963 Newbery Medal.

Margaret Mitchell

Ms. Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times before finally finding a publisher.

 D.H. Lawrence

 After reading Mr. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, one publisher warned: for your own sake do not publish this book.

 I stumbled on this under the title of “30 Famous Authors Whose Work was Rejected” I’m offering a portion of the article for you here. I think this is proof that we must write the story of our heart and soul.  No one can write the story that you must, so just keep at it!

Natalie Bright