“You've got to love this business. You have to be able to take rejection.”— Jessica BielDear Writer,
We appreciate the time you took to send our publishing house your manuscript that God told you to write. We may never again have the opportunity to read anything equaling your heavenly masterpiece.
We have carefully considered your manuscript. However, your sensational story of how God told you that we must publish your book just did not grab our editorial or marketing teams’ interest. If we were to publish your book, how could we publish anything of lesser supernatural creativity? Something compels us to encourage you to send your divine composition elsewhere.
Our publishing house receives thousands of book proposals each year. Since we don’t have the time to personally critique everyone’s work, we hope our suggestions from our Top Ten Reasons Why We Reject a Manuscript are helpful (check all that apply.):
X The audience is too small.
X It doesn’t fit our publishing needs.
X This type of book doesn’t sell.
X It’s too narrowly focused.
X It’s already been done.
X It’s an article, not a book.
X It’s too risky not worth the financial outlay to publish it.
X The acceptance dart didn’t hit your book proposal.
X This is the worst book we have ever read. You are functionally illiterate.
X You aren’t famous nor are you an expert in your field.
P.S. We strongly recommend that you obtain professional help to address your problems and neurochemical disorder.
Stinger Zinger Rejection Letters
Ouch! Even wannabees, who later became bestselling authors, were judged as crazy, boring, uneducated, or out-of-touch with reader interests.
1. “The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help.” Crash, J.G. Ballard. Rejected by many publishing houses. Crash was adapted for the screen by David Cronenberg.
2. “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the “curiosity” level. A dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions.” The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank. Rejected 16 times. More than 30 million copies are currently in print, making it one of the best-selling books in history.
3. “A long, dull novel about an artist.” Lust for Life, Irving Stone. Rejected 16. Sold around 25 million copies.
4. “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” Carrie, Stephen King. Rejected more than 30 times. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co. accepted Carrie for publication. On Mother's Day of that year, Stephen learned that a major paperback sale gave him the financial means to write full-time. The movie Carrie received two Oscar nominations and one Golden Globe nomination. The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA nominated it for a Golden Scroll as the Best Horror Film. The Edgar Allan Poe Awards nominated it for Best Motion Picture. The Hugo Awards nominated it for the Best Dramatic Presentation.
5. “I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny—possibly even satire—but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.” Catch—22, Joseph Heller. Rejected over 20 times.
6. “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.” Animal Farm, George Orwell. Rejected 23 times.
7. “These stories have trees in them.” A River Runs Through It, Norman MacLean. Rejected by every New York publishing house. It became a hit movie.
8. “Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.” To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Dr. Seuss. Rejected 24 times.
9. “My dear fellow, I may be dead from the neck up, but rack my brains as I may, I can't see why a chap should need thirty pages to describe how he turns over in bed before going to sleep.” Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust.
Antidote for Crazy Rejection Letters
An editor from the San Francisco Examiner sent Rudyard Kipling this rejection letter: “I am sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just do not know how to use the English language.”
If editors jab bestselling authors with rejection, I'm not immune either. The antidote to overcome rejection? Keep writing, believe in your personal brand of writing insanity, hone your skills, and pursue publication.