Since it’s Halloween, I dug up statistics to scare you today: five of the best-selling books of the twentieth century were initially refused by more than a dozen publishers who simply did not understand their market appeal. Get a load of what got turned down:
Richard Hooker’s M*A*S*H — rejected by 21 publishing houses.
Thor Heyerdahl’s KON-TIKI — rejected by 20 publishing houses.
Dr. Seuss’ first book, AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET — rejected by 23 publishing houses.
Richard Bach’s JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL — rejected by 18 publishing houses.
Patrick Dennis’ AUNTIE MAME — rejected by 17 publishing houses.
Frightened yet? These first books were roundly rejected back when it was significantly easier to get published, too — they were all written back when the major publishing houses were still willing to read unagented work, and back before so many of the major publishing houses consolidated into just a few. With this much editorial rejection, can you imagine how difficult it would have been for any of these books to find an agent today, let alone a publisher? And yet can you even picture the publishing world without any of them?
See — we writers don’t have to dig up old ghosts to scare ourselves silly. The odds alone are enough.
At one time, all of these authors were just wannabe writers with a dream, the kind who were told not to quit their day jobs. Aren’t you glad they didn’t listen to the prevailing wisdom?
Boo! And keep up the good work!
– Anne Mini