We’ve written about rejection before, and yet it is a topic that continues to fascinate.
There are many stories about famous authors and their worst rejection letters. I thought you might enjoy reading a few I have collected over the years.
- George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected by Alfred Knopf saying it was “impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.”
- Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected with the statement that the publisher was “not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”
- William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was rejected by an agent saying it was “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”
- L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz was rejected because it was “too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature.”
- William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream received this rejection: “September 29: The most insipid, ridiculous play that I ever saw in my life.”
- Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, was told that his comic would never succeed because of the popularity of Snoopy. “Too many animals, and cats don’t sell.”
- Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 received a rejection letter saying, “I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say.”
- Rudyard Kipling was told by an editor to stop submitting queries with the words, “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”
- One writer I know received her rejection letter in a FedEx envelope. I guess the publisher wanted to tell her no absolutely, positively overnight.
- Another writer opened their SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) with anticipation only to discover it was full of ashes.
- Ted Dekker’s first novel (which many years later was published under the title Red) was rejected by an editor who wrote, in essence, “You are a good writer but you have not created memorable characters like those found in the writings of Orson Scott Card.” That editor was Steve Laube.
- James Rubart’s first novel Rooms was turned away at a writers conference by an agent who wrote, “Your protagonist is not very likable. I cheer for his failure because he is so arrogant.” That agent was Steve Laube.
Take heart. Even the best get filleted.
And sometimes the one wielding the knife isn’t always right.