Hopelessly Bad: Part2
What would happen if Moses were alive today? He’d go up Mount Sinai, come back with the Ten Commandments–and spend the next eight years trying to get published. – Robert Orben, humorist
One publisher’s response to mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark’s manuscript, Journey Back to Love: ‘We found the heroine as boring as her husband did.’ And an editor wrote: ‘Your story is light, slight, and trite.’ Clark’s first story was rejected forty times before it sold. Now more than 30 million copies of her many, many books are in print. She is or was so popular that she once received a $60m+ advance on five future books.
20 publishers rejected Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. Later, a publisher refused to bid on the paperback rights to this best selling novel, saying ‘it will never make it as a paperback.’ Avon Books eventually bought the rights and made sales totaling more than 7.25 million copies.
Lust for Life by Irving Stone was rejected 16 times, including by one publisher, who wrote that it was ‘a long, dull novel about an artist’. The book went on to sell about 25 million copies.
Apparently, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 was originally Catch-18. But because it was being published at the same time as Leon Uris’s Mila 18, Heller changed the title. Why 22? The company publishing it was the 22nd one he had sent it to. The book has sold more than 10 million copies and the term catch-22 has become part of the English language.
33 publishers turned down Chicken Soup for the Soul, compiled by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. It not only became a huge bestseller on its own but spawned a series of popular spin-off books.
Dr. Seuss‘s first book was rejected 24 times. Sales of his delightful children’s books have soared to 100 million.
Louis L’Amour, the famous writer of westerns, received 200 rejections before he sold his first novel. During the last forty years, Bantam has shipped nearly 200 million of his 112 books, making him their biggest selling author.
Joyce Spizer’s Rejections of the Written Famous: A collection of inspirational quotes and short stories about well-known people who did not give up.
Andre Bernard’s Rotten Rejections: The letters that publishers wish they’d never sent.