Rejection Objection!

Song of the Day: Take a Chance on Me by ABBA

Sorry folks. I’m a day late. Having a new baby in the house takes a lot of adjustment and I haven’t quite nailed down a solid schedule.

Today, I’m going to post a list of unbelievable rejections compiled by my good friend and fellow writer, Will Simon.

James Lee Burke, hailed today as the “Faulkner of Modern Crime Fiction” holds the record for Most Rejections from a Publisher; his novel, THE LOST GET BACK BOOGIE was rejected one hundred and eleven (yes… 111) times. When it was published in 1986, BOOGIE was short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize. (Larry McMurtry won that year for LONESOME DOVE.)

“Richard Hooker” spent seven years writing a humorous war novel based on his experiences as a doctor in Korea. The manuscript was rejected byMASHlogo twenty-one publishers before William Morrow bought the rights to the novel, originally titled “Mobile Army Surgical Hospital”. An editor rechristened the manuscript M*A*S*H*. M*A*S*H* became a runaway best-seller, spawning a blockbuster movie and one of the longest running series in television history.

ll novelsLouis L’Amour, possibly the most respected author in the Western genre received more than 350 rejections before he made his first sale. As of this date, there are more than 200 million Louis L’Amour books in print.

British thriller writer John Creasy received 774 rejections before his first sale, and went on to author a total of 564 novels, featuring such characters as The Baron, The Toff, and other British “gentlemen heroes”, and often had up to five manuscripts in the works simultaneously. To this day, Creasy is considered one of the pre-eminent writers in the genre.

Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book “And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street” was rejected by twenty-seven publishers before Vanguard Press “took a chance”. Nothing more needs to be said.

Margaret Mitchell’s classic “Gone with the Wind” was turned down by more than thirty-seven publishers.1939_gone_with_the_wind_029

Mary Higgins Clark was rejected more than forty times before selling her first short story. More than 30 million copies of her books are in print today.

Fifteen publishers and thirty agents turned down John Grisham’s first novel, “A Time to Kill”. More than 60 million copies of his books are now in print.

Doctor No, E.T., Home Alone, Forrest Gump, Speed, and Raiders of the Lost Ark were ALL rejected by every major studio in Hollywood.
Rudyard Kipling received a rejection letter from the San Francisco Examiner that said, in part, “Mr. Kipling, it is obvious that you have no grasp of the English Language.”

Dean Koontz was strongly advised by an English Professor to find “meaningful work”, as he would never succeed as a writer.DeanKoontz

((Second all time favorite – W.)) Eight years after his novel “Steps” won the National Book Award, Jerzy Kosinski permitted a young writer to change the name and title of the book, and nothing else, and send the re-typed manuscript to various publishers. Every single publishing house rejected it, including Random House who had published the original and proudly displayed the National Book Award for it.

((First all time favorite – W.)) A young film school graduate got the necessary permissions from the estates of the writers, and submitted a word for word line by line copy of the screenplay to CASABLANCA under the play’s original title, “Everybody Comes to Rick’s.” Every studio passed on it, with Warner Brothers (who did the original) saying “No FemJep (Hollywood slang for ‘Female in Jeopardy’) ….can’t sell it. Can you toss in a serial killer?” Several agents responded to the prankster with comments like “Too old and archaic”, “Where’s the Kid Action?”, and “Unbelievably stupid; no one acts this way in real life.”

((ULTIMATE All Time Favorite – W)) Back in 1962, upon viewing initial film of Sean Connery as James Bond, a United Artists executive sent a formal memo out criticizing the producers casting choice, ending with the line “We can do better than [Connery].”Title: DOCTOR NO ¥ Pers: CONNERY, SEAN ¥ Year: 1962 ¥ Dir: YOUNG


Now – don’t you feel better about your own rejections?

William Simon is in his real life the owner and lead investigator for Abberline Investigations, a licensed investigations company that deals exclusively  in computer crime.  William publishes under the pseudonym ‘Will Graham’.

31 Responses to Rejection Objection!

  1. Candi Wall says:


    Baby? Creating scheduling issues? No way!

    I’m still impressed you can think!

    All I can say about rejections is:

    We shall overcome…

    To think of how many people give up when rejected. Thank goodness so many authors ‘keep swimming’.


  2. Diana Layne says:

    Ha! I supposed I don’t feel so bad now. Thanks, Jenn!


  3. John Roundtree says:

    I’ve only just sent out queries, so I’m proud to say I have a perfect record. I’ve never been rejected … except, of course, if you don’t count those formative years in high school and college.

    Great post, Jenn!

    –John D Roundtree


    • jbrayweber says:

      You were rejected in school? I’d never believe it! HA!

      I can only hope that you keep that perfect record. You have an amazing voice. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you and sending cosmic vibes your way.


  4. Jessica says:

    Feeling much better, thanks! LOL


  5. Hey Jenn!

    Thanks for posting. These are priceless.



  6. Wow! Doesn’t that put everything into perspective! I got nothing but rejections for years and years, but I persevered through it all and sold my first romance novel, a Civil War time travel, a few years back. Since then, I still get rejections sometimes, but know it’s just a matter of finding the right editor who’ll love my story and help me make it shine.


    • jbrayweber says:

      Hi Susan!
      Perserverence. I hear that word alot in this industry and it’s just what aspiring authors need to chant to ourselves each morning. It’s hard sometimes but we have to believe in ourselves. Just like you do!

      Thanks for stopping by!


  7. Hart says:

    This made me happy. Being rejected in such company has risen me to the ranks of greatness! erm… sort of. But at least it helps not take it so personally.


  8. Rita says:

    HA! The Jerzy Kosinski story is great! Persistence is the name of the game.


  9. Melissa says:

    Great post, Jenn! Always good to read these! Thanks for the reminder that even those considered the best have their share of rejections. 🙂


    • jbrayweber says:

      Hi Missy!
      It’s not easy swallowing those rejections. No one is immune and so it’s good to know we are not alone.
      It also helps to have a great group of writing pals to support one another. 😉


  10. Suzan H. says:

    Add author Christie Craig’s motivational talk where she dumps some of her 10,000 rejections on the floor.


    • jbrayweber says:

      Hi Suzan!
      Yes – Christie is the best! I can always count on her wit and experience to make me feel better about myself and the bumps and bruises of the industry.


  11. Hi, Jenn. I amazed you found time to post this great blog. Inspiring. Goes to show you, determintion is necessary to achieve. (((HUGS)))

    Autumn Jordon


    • jbrayweber says:

      Hi AJ –
      Ah….time….so little of it these days.
      I agree with you. Determination is so very important. Book deals don’t just fall into our laps. Darn it!


  12. laurie hunsaker says:

    I definitely feel better about myself! 🙂


  13. Stacey says:

    OK……then maybe I’m not such a loser! 🙂
    Why can’t they all immediately see our brillance and just hire us already?? Stacey


  14. ciara says:

    That’s awesome! It’s good to keep things in perspective. Perseverance is key.


    • jbrayweber says:

      I agree. Keeping a list like this in mind might help some from derailing. I know we all have our doubts about ourselves. Never give up!!
      Thanks for stopping by, Ciara!


  15. J.L. Campbell says:

    That’s an impressive list of rejections! Gonna share this with my writing pals. It’ll do them a world of good.


    • jbrayweber says:

      Hi J.L.
      My writing pals and I make sure to remind ourselves that even the best get turned away. Then we celebrate our accomplishments!
      Thanks for popping in!


  16. Majo says:

    This reminds me I need to work hard at getting some more rejections under my belt. Thank you so much!


  17. […] for you.  D’you know how many rejections the big names got before they struck gold?  Check here and here after you’ve read to the end of this post. Stay with me, and keep your focus.  (Thanks […]


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