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 by 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.
Louis 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.
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.
((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].”
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’.