I’ve written about rejection before and yet it is a topic that continues to fascinate.
Recently Adrienne Crezo did an article on famous authors and their worst rejection letters. I thought you might enjoy reading a couple highlights of that article and some additional stories 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.”
- Frank L. 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.”
- Ted Dekker’s Heaven’s Wager 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 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.