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  • Writer's pictureKatelyn Warren

5 Famous Authors Who Were Rejected Before Success

Updated: Apr 7

“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.” – Ray Bradbury

Being a writer entails bravery and the willingness to speak one’s mind purely and genuinely despite the plethora of varying opinions and negativity in the world. Although sharing your personal work with the world can be rewarding, it also requires great vulnerability as your most intimate thoughts are dispersed into the minds of readers. Witnessing your writing come to life while making a significant impact in the world is the goal of many writers; however, it comes with a price: rejection. In order to set up your work for success, you must put the heart of your writing on the line and expect to confront its flaws. Being rejected is hardly a good feeling, but it is crucial in order to grow as a writer. When you read your first rejection letter, instead of feeling utterly dejected, remember that many famous authors experienced rejection before they found success. Here are five authors who were rejected before success:

5. Judy Blume

Before her many popular books found success, Judy Blume was rejected for two years with one magazine claiming in their rejection letter that she would ‘not win in competition with others.’ Now, she has received countless awards and honors, and she is an extremely best-selling author. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Superfudge, Tiger Eyes, Freckle Juice, and Wifey are some of her beloved books. Her advice to those experiencing rejection is: “Don’t let anyone discourage you! Yes, rejection and criticism hurt. Get used to it. Even when you’re published you’ll have to contend with less than glowing reviews. There is no writer who hasn’t suffered.”

4. Dr. Seuss

The quirky and imaginative world of Dr. Seuss is beloved by both children and adults, but it took twenty-seven publisher rejections before And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was actually published. Dr. Seuss ended up publishing over sixty children’s books and has sold over millions of copies. If he had not given it one more chance, Green Eggs and Ham, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! and many other successful children’s books would have never reached the hands of children all over the world. His books have won several awards which include Academy awards, Emmy awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and many more. Give yourself another chance after rejection – even after twenty-seven times!

3. Stephen King

The first person to reject Stephen King’s writing was himself as he trashed his first draft of Carrie until his wife dug it out of the trash and convinced him to finish it. He experienced rejection thirty times before becoming published, and he eventually sold millions of copies. He used to collect rejection slips and hang them on his wall until the tack couldn’t hold all of the letters; now, he is one of the most prolific, best-selling writers of our time. He has won many awards, and his books and short stories have been made into very popular films like IT, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, and Christine to name a few. The next time you get a rejection letter, start a collection!

2. J.K. Rowling

Starting off as a poor, single, and unemployed mother, J.K. Rowling was told to be a teacher as it was thought her books would never take off. She was rejected by twelve different publishers before finding success – immense, global success. She is now one of the most famous best-selling authors of all time and has sold over 450 million copies of her books all over the world. In addition to her novel success, her Harry Potter franchise evolved into incredibly famous films. Regarding rejection, Rowling has said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.”

1. Agatha Christie

The Grand Dame of English crime fiction did not find fame easily as she was rejected several times before becoming a best-selling author. Her first manuscript was rejected so much that it never got published, but her second manuscript was published after facing lots of rejection and after having to change the ending. Now, Agatha Christie’s works Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, And Then There Were None, and others have become very famous. She went from being constantly rejected to currently being the world’s best-selling fiction writer with over two billion in sales.

Although seeing personal words from your heart being dismissed lacerates your feelings, success can still be generated from failure. It is beneficial to remember that every person has a different sense of what ‘good’ is, and if you are rejected by one publisher or person, there will always be another who will adore your work. Even if you experience failure several times – and you will – it is a great way to learn how to evolve your work into something even better, and you may learn more about yourself in the process. Having talent is the start to becoming successful, but you must have determination, inspiration, and character in order for your dreams to take off to the vast heights that they are destined for. The next time you are rejected, whether in writing, arts, business, or life, recall that it is insurmountable for a flower to grow without the rain.

In order to become a successful writer, you must put yourself out there and take a chance. Singularity Press offers various editing services, so if you have a book that needs to be edited, check out our pricing plans.

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