Rotten Rejections

We’ve all experienced rejection, but those of us in the arts have to experience it more than most.  A few years ago, my literary agent sent me a funny little book called ROTTEN REJECTIONS  (copyright 1990 Pushcart Press), whose contents are inspiring.

For example, of Pearl Buck’s, THE GOOD EARTH, the rejection said, “Regret the American public is not interested in anything on China.”

Of THE PETER PRINCIPLE, a McGraw-Hill editor wrote, “I can foresee no commercial possibilities for such a book…”

SANCTUARY by William Faulkner, “Good God, I can’t publish this. We’d both be in jail.”

DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, “This girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift this book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”

THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD…You’re welcome to John Le Carre–he hasn’t got any future.”

ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell, “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by HG Wells, “I think the verdict would be, ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book.'”

Other writers who received many rejections:  F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gustave Flaubert, Marcel Proust, Edgar Allen Poe, Julia Child, Oscar Wilde, Stephen King, and, wait for it…Jane Austen.

So artists of every stripe:  keep trying!

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5 thoughts on “Rotten Rejections

  1. index

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  2. Michael R. Stern

    Thanks for posting this, Nicole. We are all in good company. It’s a reminder that 1) agents and publishers aren’t omnipotent, and 2) there are reasons to be persistent.

  3. Stephen Erdmann

    It has been my experience with so-called ‘writrers’ in Writing or Lterary Groups, they tend to charge into each others’ work as if they are gladiators in somekind of combat, egos swelled to the utmost, and full speed ahead! Not so much to ‘really’ help in analyzing the respective work: just to match it against their misguided ego. That usually amounts to soapboxing and tearing the work down, only when the writer trully needed was help, consideration, reflection and construction. I guess you could say that would be: Mind Games This is why I am cautious in asking for others to read my work. I have a few, not many. Those willing to join in favorable discourse, write me at my email address.

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