I truly believe each of us has a bestseller waiting to be exposed and shared with the world. Worthiness and lack of belief in self always seems to serve as the biggest barriers when it comes to making a decision to start off on our literary journeys. The trick is to learn to regularly suspend those times of disbelief in self, and continue to march forward in the face of discouragement. Most of your favourite authors would acknowledge the massive internal debate that took place prior to writing their best sellers, let alone the battle it takes to get their work published. Here are a few massively successful books that we rejected over and over again before each author earned their opportunity and shine and share their message with the world. It is a game of persistence, rather than each of these genius authors work being discovered by chance.
It took Margaret Mitchell 10 years to write her epic love story of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. Her huge (over 1,000 pages) manuscript faced 38 rejections before one of the publishers, on the advice of Margaret’s husband, finally agreed to publish the story in June, 1936. Six months after its release, in December, 1936, the novel had sold one million copies and Margaret Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Vladimir Nabokov had a hard time finding anyone in the USA willing to publish his so called obscene novel. Lolita received nothing but rejections for two years. Finally, this story of a teenage girl’s love affair with an older man was published in France and became a best seller as soon as it appeared in the USA. Nowadays, Lolita is considered one of the greatest books of the 20th century and was included in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 best novels of the previous century.
The Help, Kathryn Stockett’s début work, was rejected by 60 literary agents, who thought that this sharp novel about racial inequality was doomed to fail. Luckily, one tiny publishing house agreed to print the story, and it appeared to be a bestseller in just three weeks after its release. As of 2011, the book has sold over five million copies and has spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.
The future Nobel Prize winner received 21 rejection letters before his first novel was finally published. The book didn’t gain recognition immediately — by 1954, only 3,000 copies were sold. But two years later, in 1956, the Lord of the Flies became an absolute bestseller. And in 2005 the book was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best English language novels.
The book, which was later listed in the UNESCO’s Memory of the World register, had been rejected 15 times. One publisher once noted: «The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.» In 1947, Anne Frank’s father finally published the novel, which immediately became a bestseller.
“We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” Stephen King received this letter after he had submitted his first novel, Carrie, for publication for the 13th time. However, a few months later, the book appeared in print. And in the first year after it was published, more than a million copies of the book were sold. Today, the story of a girl having incredibly strong telekinetic abilities is considered a classic of the genre.
Richard Bach was dealt 18 rejection letters before he found a publisher. «Nobody will want to read a book about a seagull. This is absurd,» said one of them. However, when the novel was published, it was an immediate hit, selling a million copies in its first year. This book turned the former pilot of the US Air Force into a world famous writer.
It is hard to believe, but this moving love story was turned down a whopping 24 times before it was finally published by Teresa Park. Having read the novel, she landed a million dollar contract with a major publishing house. The Notebook was released in October 1996 and topped The New York Times Fiction Best Seller list in its first week of sales.
This famous fantasy novel was continually rejected by publishers for a long time. Lewis received 37 rejections before he met a literary agent, Geoffrey Bles, who helped him publish the first book about Narnia. Now the story of four children who find themselves in the magical land sells over 100 million copies in 47 languages.
J. K. Rowling’s novel was rejected 12 times before it was published. The first print run was only 1,000 copies, but the book was immediately recognized as one of the best children’s books of the year in the UK. With its brand, valued at over $15 billion, Harry Potter is second only to the Bible in most copies printed and sold around the world.
Adapted content from Forbes & BrightSide.