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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Afraid of failure?

The first book by Dr. Seuss, And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected by 27 publishers.

It went on to sell six million copies, and as you can see, the creator finished up on a postage stamp.

The report of Fred Astaire's first screen test read: "Can't act! Slightly bald! Can dance a little!"

Astaire kept that memo framed over his fireplace in his Beverly Hills mansion.

Albert Einsten's teacher's report read: "mentally slow, unsociable and adrift for ever in his dreams."

He was expelled.

He was refused entrance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

The University of Bern turned down his PhD dissertion: irrelevant and fanciful, they said.

The manager of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance. "You ain't goin' nowhere," he said. "You ought to go back to driving a truck."

And -- yes, you've guessed it -- Margaret Mitchell's classic Gone with the Wind was turned down by more than 25 publishers.


Craig Sisterson said...

I believe, from interviewing him a couple of times and accounts I've read elsewhere, that one of James Lee Burke's earlier books, when he'd just started out, was rejected around 170 times by publishers, then when was published may have been nominated for a Pulitzer... and yeah, he ain't a bad writer, pretty decent career since :D

Anonymous said...

So there's still hope then ...

Joan Druett said...

Ron said that Turner was told that by his teachers that he would never be an artist.

And there was that NY publisher who framed a memo in which she had written, "Who the hell would want to read a book about a bunch of crazy Swedes on a raft?"

Caron Eastgate Dann said...

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini, was published by the young author's parents in 2002. He travelled round the US for a year, wearing a medieval costume to promote it, but getting only modest sales. By chance, the novelist Carl Hiaasen saw the book, because while he was on holiday with his family, his step-son bought a copy. Hiaasen showed it to an editor at the publishing company Alfred A. Knopf, and the book became an international best-seller.
I also love the story of Brunonia Barry, the author of The Lace Reader. She and her husband used all their savings to self-publish the book and distributed it themselves. It became a local hit (they live in Salem, Massachusetts, where the book is set) and fabulous reviews brought it to the attention of HarperCollins. Barry eventually got a multi-book deal worth several million dollars. It's strange that her website completely ignores this story, but I remember reading an article about it at the time, and there is some scant information on Wikipedia and elsewhere.

Joan Druett said...

I've read that story about The Lace Reader, too. Perhaps it was in Publishers Weekly? As you say, very odd that such a good story has been ignored since. Perhaps Harpers didn't want the world to know.