7 Writers Who Went From Being Rejected to Becoming Bestselling Authors
In today’s digital age where the boundaries of almost everything are expanding, getting published to be an author is not an easy task. Even with the means to self-publish which is more accessible and cost-free, several brilliant authors remain unrecognized. If we’re being honest, rejection is a grueling part of the process when trying to get your manuscript published. However, if some authors took this to heart or even hadn’t been at the right place at the right time, we would not be able to enjoy some of our most cherished literary masterpieces. The stories of these 7 inspirational authors show how even a rejected manuscript can have unrecognized value.
Having a debut novel that time and again made appearances on the list of most frequently banned books in the United States, Stephen King set a standard for all things horror. Carrie tells the story of a young girl living a tumultuous life with a side of telekinetic powers.
While King himself was tough on his writing, going as far as throwing the first draft of Carrie in the trash, the book was passed over by thirty publishers before Doubleday made the wise decision of publishing his work. Not only did the book sell over a million copies but was also adapted in film twice; achieving a widely renowned name for itself.
In true Stephen King fashion, instead of kneeling over a rejection, he nailed all the rejection letters he received from publishers over Carrie to a spike in his bedroom.
Agatha Christie herself could not have predicted that it would take her close to four years to finally get published. The first novel she wrote was constantly tossed out by publishers. Conflicted by these reactions, Christie turned to Eden Philpots, a fellow writer and a friend of the family.
Philpots graciously introduced her to his literary agent but her novel was once again rejected. The agent advised her to begin working on a fresh project and although this was also turning out the same way as her first one, she was finally able to get it published. Unfortunately, this came with a major condition tagging along; she was forced to change the ending, and only then would she be published.
All of this trouble finally paid off as she is now considered to be the second best-selling author of all time, only second to William Shakespeare.
Louisa May Alcott
Little Women, the coming-of-age classic, has been a rite of passage for many young individuals around the world; now imagine if the novel itself did not exist. Teaching us rich lessons on the importance of sisterhood, it remains iconic a hundred-and-fifty years later as well.
Louisa May Alcott was advised to continue with her teaching profession as a publisher told her that she could not write. But rather than giving in, she marched on ahead to become a celebrated author.
Upon receiving his twenty-seventh rejection on his manuscript from his publisher, a dejected Dr. Suess was making his way down Madison Avenue. The plan was to lug the manuscript home and set it on fire. As he was contemplating the details of this plan, he came across an old acquaintance he knew from school.
The acquaintance questioned Dr. Suess about the object in his hands to which he replied that it was a book no one intended to publish and then goes on to reveal his plan of burning it. Turns out that his school acquaintance was a children’s book editor and upon reading his manuscript, he decided to publish it.
Despite not being one of his best works, the book received great reviews. Dr. Suess went on to write numerous children’s books, many of which have been memorialized in pop culture and film adaptations.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald’s debut novel, This Side of Paradise brought him a whopping one hundred and twenty-two rejection letters in total. Rather than being dejected about it, he continued to work on it until it was finally published, there was no stopping him then.
But here’s something, imagine The Great Gatsby but without Gatsby. Sounds foolish right? While Fitzgerald was working on getting The Great Gatsby published, a publisher actually suggested that he do this to the story while also insinuating that he would have a decent book if he did so.
Still Alice, now a famous book with a film adaptation that does great justice to it, was rejected over a hundred times. Instead of taking it sitting down, Lisa Genova doubled down and believed in her writing. She struggled to get even a single literary agent to show interest in her novel and this went on for a whole year.
Wanting to take things into her own hands, Genova decided to self-publish. She recounts how she did not see a single reason as to why she should not do it herself. As part of the Process, Genova created a website for her book and although initially sought out help from organizations related to Alzheimer’s disease, she finally published it herself with iUniverse.
She eventually received a book deal; her novel climbed the charts of the New York Times bestseller list and the book received a film adaptation starring Julianne Moore who was awarded an Oscar for her portrayal.
If there is one thing to learn from American films, it is that no high school experience is complete without reading Lord of the Flies in English class. But who would have thought that there once existed publishers who thought that this novel would never amount to anything?
William Golding was a young man with a twinkle in his eyes when he finished writing his first-ever manuscript. He went on to submit these at numerous publishing houses but was rejected twenty-one times and received constant negative criticism with many calling his work rubbish and absurd.
But going against the odds, Golding holds the honor of being a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature while Lord of the Flies went on to sell fifteen million copies worldwide.
All these authors persisted until they were able to get published and well, some others got lucky. Today, publishing is a more dynamic and diverse field. There is no one way to go about getting published. With free self-publishing platforms like Pencil, the writer in you can go from being just that to a published author. Being the free and accessible medium that self-publishing with Pencil is, it allows you to publish whenever, wherever, without having to worry about feeling dejected about your writing. You can put your story out exactly how you want without changing a thing and still improve your writing skills through dynamic reader feedback on a platform like Pencil. All you have to do is have a manuscript ready.