Literary challenges

Da Vinci Dan Brown was rejected and told his manuscript of The Da Vinci Code was ‘so badly written’. Fortunately another publisher did not agree.
ValleyDolls Jacqueline Susann received this review, ‘…she is a painfully dull, inept, clumsy, undisciplined, rambling and thoroughly amateurish writer…’ for her Valley of the Dolls.
LadyC D H Lawrence was advised ‘for your own sake do not publish this book.’ He had to self-publish Lady Chatterley’s Lover in Italy, it was banned for thirty years but when finally published in the UK it became a worldwide best seller.
Alchemist Paul Coelho sold his manuscript The Alchemist to a Brazilian publisher and sold only 900 copies, the publisher gave him back the rights. When he sold his second book to another publisher it revitalised the first.
Oz L Frank Baum was told his manuscript was ‘too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature.’ If he had accepted this we would all have been robbed of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Wake Amanda Hocking was rejected by publishing houses so she decided to self-publish eBooks and became a best-selling Kindle author selling over a million copies of her works.
Celestine James Redfield also self-published The Celestine Prophecy and went on to sell 100,000 copies from the trunk of his car before being signed to a publisher.
LWomen Louisa May Alcott on submitting Little Women was advised ‘Tell Louisa to stick to her teaching; she can never succeed as a writer’.
Kipling Rudyard Kipling submitted a short story to a San Francisco newspaper and was advised by the editor, ‘I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.’
MobyDick ‘It is very long and rather old-fashioned’ was the comment Herman Melville received for Moby Dick, another publisher risked printing 3,000 copies but only fifty of these sold during his lifetime.
Godfather The Alfred A Knopf publishing house has the distinction of turning down

  • Jack Kerouac
  • George Orwell
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Mario Puzo‘s The Godfather
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