Getting a book published isn’t as easy as many believe it to be, the book must be edited to perfection, then a target audience must be identified. After that, authors must find an agent who will determine the likelihood of the book being published. If all goes well, the book is then sent to a publisher who then makes the final decision, which more times than not isn’t the outcome that authors hope for. It may be hard to believe, but many of the books we know and love were initially rejected, and not just once. William Golding’s award-winning novel, Lord of the Flies, was rejected at least 20 times before a publisher gave him a chance and he’s not the only one. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous books to be rejected.
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
It’s hard to believe that the Harry Potter franchise almost didn’t exist. Not only does the series hold the record for best-selling book series of all-time, but the novels made the author richer than the Queen of England (before she gave away much of her fortune). The series was rejected 8 times and was on its way to its ninth when a publisher’s 8-year-old daughter read the first chapter of the book and begged her father to get the rest of the story. The books went on to sell over 500 million copies and were adapted into films and raked in over $7.73 billion dollars- the magical world has been brought to life in theme parks around the world, raking in even more money for Rowling.
2. Gone With the Wind
Gone With the Wind was written by Margaret Mitchell, an Atlanta-based reporter who was forced to quit her job due to an injury. A typewriter given to her by her husband to help cope with her “free time” was what led her to create the Pulitzer Prize winning piece. The novel was rejected 38 times before being published in 1936. The novel sold over 25 million copies and its popularity led to an adapted film just three years later. Today, the movie can be found on every “top 10 movie list” of substance.
3. Diary of Anne Frank
The Diary of Anne Frank tells the story of the lives and experiences of Anne Frank and her family who were all arrested and sent to a concentration camp in 1944. The only surviving member, Anne’s father Otto, was given his late daughter’s diary which he decided to publish. The book detailed her experiences and the threats that Jews faced. Not surprisingly, the book was rejected 16 times as many publishers believed that the world wasn’t ready to relive the horrors associated with World War 2. It was eventually published and although the critically acclaimed novel sold over 30 million copies, it was later banned in some countries for being too depressing.
Dune was rejected 23 times before a publisher decided to take a chance on the novel. Their gamble paid off; the 1965 book became the best-selling science fiction novel of all time. Just a year later, the book which tells the story of life on the desert planet of Arrakis, won the Nebula award for best novel. It was then unsuccessfully adapted into a film in 1984 which was then remade in 2020 with an all-star cast of Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Momoa and Rebecca Ferguson.
5. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was one of the fastest and best-selling books in the history of literature, but not many people know it was rejected so many times that Baum kept a journal called “A Record of Failure.” According to publishers the novel was “too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature,” and they believed that the book wouldn’t sell. Although the book never won any awards, it is one of the most celebrated books of all time and it’s adapted film was nominated for six Academy Awards.
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