Friday, June 11, 2010


On a site I visit, a writer who is having trouble getting her stuff into print offered up that she was mightily depressed over this. I spoke to it there, and decided it was worth putting up my response here:

The late John Creasey, who, depending on whom you believe, got something like 700 rejections before he sold a book. Over his subsequent career, he produced more than 600 hundred books.

Gary Cooper is reported to have said that Gone With the Wind was going to be the biggest flop in history and he was glad it was Gable who was going to fall flat on his face and not him.

The editor of the San Francisco Examiner is reported to have told Rudy: "I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don't know how to use the English language."

Wonder what that editor's name was?

Nobody wanted Frank Herbert's Dune in droves. When it finally came out, it was from Chilton Press, known for their auto repair manuals, and it got a minimum print run. Today, it is usually pointed out as the best-selling SF novel of the modern era.

John Kennedy Toole's novel, A Confederacy of Dunces garnered no publisher interest and depressed him so much that he killed himself. Eleven years later, his mother found a publisher, and sold millions, winning the Pulitzer Prize.

Emily Dickinson.

I'm a so-so writer on my best day and I got 300 short story rejections the first year I was giving it a go. But since then, I've managed to keep enough of a literary fire going to help keep the house warm.

The only sure way to lose the game is to quit.


jks9199 said...

Just seems to me that rejection slips are par for the course for writers, just part of the business. The best story in the world might be rejected by a publisher who doesn't want to do another book or story of that genre this week, or there's just no room. Kinda like actors go to auditions and don't get the part... I seem to recall hearing a story of a writer who kept all his rejection notices, and (depending on the teller) either wall papered an office with them, or would review them when he felt like he was getting too confident.

Dan Moran said...

If you can't stand being rejected by people you like and admire, you've got no business writing for pay in the first place. Being energized by rejection, or being so thick-skinned it doesn't bother you, are both perfectly good solutions, but you need something. If rejection demoralizes you so you can't cope, writing is not for you. Neither are a whole lot of other competitive activities.

The Smoke Monster said...

Words well said. I've acquired a few rejection slips over the years, but I use them as fuel to keep chipping away at my manuscript and making it better than before.