Image Credit: Sean MacEntee, flickr

The Little Book That Could

If you’re a writer who’s been discouraged by the competitive publishing industry, don’t despair! For inspiration, here are some bestselling titles that were initially rejected by publishers:

According to The Huffington Post, the following books “almost never saw the light of day:”

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The list doesn’t end there! reports that the following Science Fiction classics were first rejected by publishers as well:

  • The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler

If you’re wondering how many times some of these classics were rejected, take a look at the tallies provided by Buzzfeed:

  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: 15 rejections
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig: 121 rejections
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: 26 rejections
  • Dune by Frank Herbert: 23 rejections
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling: 12 rejections 

This just scratches the surface of famous book rejections.  And in recent years, we’ve heard authors like E.L. James (50 Shades of Grey), Kathryn Stockett (The Help), and James Patterson also struggled with publisher rejections.

The Huffington Post reports that nearly 96% of submissions are rejected by publishers, so if you are feeling discouraged as a writer, remember that you are not alone.  In fact, you’re in quite good company!  Perhaps your book will be the next Harry Potter or Carrie.  The only way to know is to keep trying.



  • Jose

    Okay, I’ll try again. First post disappeared. Your words of truth are spot on, Maris. The nail-biting bengis with submissions and never stops. Even when a contract comes and the book finally reaches publication, we worry that no one will buy our baby. And then, there’s the reviews and more nail-biting.So what do we do? We write another book and start all over again! Ha! Writers!

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