Skip to main content
Report this ad

See also:

So, Your Manuscript's Been Rejected?

Could be worse!
Could be worse!

Writers of all kinds, experiences and ages have all been through the frustration and anxiety of the publishing world: Being rejected over and over again in the most selective industry in the world (next to the music and acting business). Any writer that finally broke through will give the same advice: Never give up. Keep pushing, keep doing your homework and weave your way in and out of the masses to make yourself noticed. What many unpublished writers forget is that even bestsellers J.K Rowling and Stephenie Meyer were once part of the slush pile themselves. And they weren’t the only ones.

Here is a list of some classic authors with famous works that are still widely read today. Listed below them are the actual responses from literary agencies and publishing houses that make us all drop our jaws in shock—and also laugh at their mistakes that they kicked themselves over later:

Northanger Abbey-Jane Austen

“We are willing to return the manuscript for the same (advance) as we paid for it.”

The Good Earth- Pearl S. Buck

“Regret the American public is not interested in anything on China.”

The Mysterious Affair at Styles- Agatha Christie

“It is very interesting and has several good points, but it is not quite suitable for our list.”

Emily Dickinson- (untitled manuscript of poetry)

“Queer, the rhymes are all wrong.”

Sanctuary- William Faulkner

“Good God I can’t publish this. We’d both be in jail.”

The Diary of Anne Frank

“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift the book above the ‘curiosity’ level.

Lord of the Flies-William Golding

“It does not seem to us that you have been wholly successful in working out an admittedly promising idea.”

Ulysses- James Joyce

“We have read the chapters of Mr. Joyce’s novel with great interest, and we wish we could offer to print it. But the length is an insuperable difficulty to us at present. We can get no one to help us, and at our rate of progress a book of 300 pages would take at least two years to produce…I have told my servants to send the MS back to you.”

Rudyard Kipling-(untitled submission)

“I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”

Moby Dick- Herman Melville

“We regret to say that our united opinion is entirely against the book as we do not think it would be at all suitable for the juvenile market in [England]. It is very long, rather old-fashioned, and in our opinion not deserving of the reputation which it seems to enjoy.”

Typee- Herman Melville

“It is impossible that it could be true and therefore it is without real value.”

Animal Farm- George Orwell

“It is impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.”

The Fountainhead- Ayn Rand

“It is badly written and the hero is unsympathetic.”

And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street- Dr. Seuss

“Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”

The Jungle- Upton Sinclair

“Sensational is a mild term for the book and the improbabilities are so glaring that even a boy reader would balk at them. It is fit only for the wastebasket.”

The Time Machine- H.G Wells

“It is not interesting enough for the general reader and not thorough enough for the scientific reader.”

The War of the Worlds- H.G Wells

“An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would take. I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book.’”

The Picture of Dorian Grey- Oscar Wilde

“It contains unpleasant elements.”

(Selected poems)-William Butler Yeats

“That he has any real paying audience I find hard to believe.”

Excerpts from “Rotten Rejections,” edited by Andre Bernard and introduction by Bill Henderson.

Encouraging, no?

For your publishing hunting spree, I recommend you visit the Preditors and Editors web page also to sort out the good agencies and publishers from the bad ones. Go to to find out who makes sales and who has lawsuits. Protect yourself, do your research, and above all, keep on writing.


Report this ad