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  1. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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    Famous books that were first rejected.

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by alter-ego, Mar 30, 2011.

    Just to give us all a little hope, I thought a list of books that have reached great acclaim but were first rejected might be fun. Here's two to start.

    Dune, by Frank Hurbert. 1966. Frequently cited as the worlds greatest Si Fi novel. Was rejected by more than 20 publishers before being taken up by Chilton books, a company known for its automotive repair guides.

    Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. 1943. Sold more than six and a half million copies. Was rejected by 12 publishers until a young editor risked his job to get it published.
     
  2. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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    And here's some quotes from publishers that rejected great authors.

    Stephen King was rejected over a dozen times with his first novel Carrie. One publisher sent him back a note. "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell."

    William Goldings Lord Of The Flies was also rejected by 20 publishers, one who wrote, "an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull."
     
  3. MidnightPhoenix
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    thanks for the information, it bring me warmth that it show that if you get bounced by a published just kept on tried because someone will like it.
     
  4. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Harry Potter was rejected a few times. Only one that immediately comes to mind.
     
  5. Annûniel
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    Annûniel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Honesty, I find it more surprising when a first time author is picked up by the first publishing company they pitch their idea.
     
  6. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not that this undermines your point at all but IIRC the Lord of the Flies that Golding sent out initially was a wholly different book than the one we now know. From what I saw of that initial effort, 'absurd..fantasy' wasn't too far from the truth. Golding owed an awful lot to the chap who pressed him to make very substantial changes to the text (and who took the chance on him).
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was wondering about that. If my book gets published it isn't fair to include the eight rejections I got last September - my book is now 30K longer and the story has changed. Last September bizarre book with ADD tendancies would be justified lol it still has that but it is a bit less so.

    Presumably even Harry Potter got revised in between rejections.

    The other thing is each time I get rejected I learn something and my introductory letter and synopsis improve etc
     
  8. The Degenerate
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    A Clockwork Orange, which wouldn't be published in America with its original ending because publishers thought it was "too sensitive" for an American audience that was already desensitized to violence. It was later re-released with the original ending.

    On the subject of material "too unsuitable" for American audiences, Ulysses was banned in America up until a supreme court judge overruled the ban that was initially instituted because of its "explicit content."

    I also believe that Mark Twain self-published many of his books because of his resent for the publishing industry.
     
  9. Angharad Denby-Ashe
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    Jane Austen had a horrible time getting her work published. I believe it took her something like ten years to get Pride and Prejudice published and a few were published by her brothers after her death Persuasion and Northanger Abbey I think....(correct me if I'm wrong) :)
     
  10. alter-ego
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    Anne Frank and the Diary of Anne Frank. Rejected by 16 publishers, one who wrote, "The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level."

    I love this one.
    George Orwell, Animal Farm. Rejected by a publisher saying, "It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA."
     
  11. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that further supports the point of this thread. Don't look at rejections as "your book sucks, no one will ever want to read it." Look at it like "hey, this may be good, but it could be so much better!" ;)
     
  12. Vamp_fan22
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    I don't know if this is right or if this book is considered famous but wasn't Where The Wild Things Are rejected at first? I remember seeing an interview with the author when the movie came out and I could have sworn he said that. I'm not sure though, I could be wrong.
     
  13. hyperchord24
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    I'm not surprised by this anymore. I was surprised, however, by Terry Goodkind's publishing luck and am glad that it's more of an anomoly than the rule.
     
  14. funkybassmannick
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    That made me lol even though I really like the books.
     
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Somebody has to mention A Confederacy Of Dunces. John Kennedy Toole sent his comic novel to something like a dozen publishers and was rejected by all of them, so he committed suicide. The book was eventually published and won a Pulitzer Prize.

    Do not give up hope, writers. Even if you're rejected a dozen times or more, do not give up hope.
     
  16. Hollowly
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    The book, "Pushcart's Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections" has a few good examples of famous books and their rejections.
     
  17. popsicledeath
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    Wait, so listing masterpieces that probably only made it because they were exactly that, after a slew of rejections, is supposed to make people feel better? Only if you're trusting your work to be so good as to be rejected by every major publisher and still catch on.

    It's more encouraging, imo, to think about books like Twilight, that became a huge seller despite a first-time writer with little experience just writing out a dream. To me, that's encouraging, as at least the quality of writing is a bar that doesn't seem all that high. :p
     
  18. art
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    Rejected masterpieces are certainly a good cause for hopefulness. It confirms the suspicion that many publishers are idiots or, if I'm being kind, are prone to occasional lapses of judgement.

    The lesson is this: if what you've written is genuinely super, keep at it, don't be discouraged because, eventually, you will happen upon a publisher who is not an idiot. And, if you feel what you've written might not quite be a masterpeice, keep at it, for many publishers are idiots.
     
  19. Speedy
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    Great stories have bbeen rejection for centuries. I'd actually like to know how many MS have been accepted first go, good or bad. But the inustry is a business. Of course they are pretty much maninly going to accept what is the norm/trend out there. So if you have a great story and its not the niche, good luck. You need to keep at it though. i mean trends chance, and faster than ever.
     
  20. Elgaisma
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    William Mcgonagall - arguably the worst poet in the English language yet his poems are still in print many generations after some of his more critically acclaimed contempoaries have bit the dust. In Scotland he is as well quoted/misquoted as Burns.

    Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter was named after him, the Goons and Monty Python based characters on him. And the debate still rages - worst poet or genius !!! His friends paid for his first publications.
     
  21. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Beautiful railway bridge of the silv'ry Tay
    Alas! I am very sorry to say
    That ninety lives have been taken away
    On the last sabbath day of 1879
    Which shall be remembered for a very long time."


    I go with genius. And we remember those who he inspired, not least the mighty McTeagle:

    Can I have fifty pounds to mend the shed?
    i'm right on my uppers. I can pay you back
    when this postal order comes from Australia.
    honestly.
    hope the bladder trouble's getting better
     
  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or
    That your central girders would not have given way,
    At least many sensible men do say,
    Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
    At least many sensible men confesses,
    For the stronger we our houses do build,
    The less chance we have of being killed.


    LOL Seem to remember this was shortly after he had written a poem extolling its virtues.

    I lean towards comic genius myself - he was certainly a strong amazing character and must have been incredibly fit to have walked 60 miles in bad weather over the terrain he did to Balmoral only to be turned away and walk home again.
     
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Stephen Donaldson's first novel (Lord Foul's Bane) was rejected 47 times. I think he tried to get it published for ten years, but I can't find any reference to back it up right now.

    Which I think is good to know, so you don't assume your novel is crap just because it's been rejected 46 times :)
     
  24. Dithnir
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    Animal Farm was rejected over 30 times apparently.

    An interesting article in a british newspaper a while back on the difficulty (then) of getting published.

    They sent the first two chapters of a booker prize winning novel from the 70s to a slew of agents and publishers.

    Needless to say nobody twigged that it was someone else's work, previously published, and only two said they'd be interested in reading more.

    You could be a good writer, you just have to hit the right market at the right time.
     
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    This.

    It's not that publishers are idiots. It's just that what's good and what's bad is subjective. It's easy to chime in and think something is good after it's already been approved by others, but would you really recognise a future nobel prize winner if it was hidden in the slush pile?
     

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