September 5, 2011

How Many Rejection Letters are Too Many?

Last week on my Facebook page I posted a link to an article: “Kathryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’ Turned Down 60 Times Before Becoming a Best Seller.” The post generated a lively discussion.

The article said that Kathryn finished her first version of “The Help,” sent it out to an agent, and received a rejection letter. She kept revising her manuscript and sending it out. After the fifteenth rejection, a friend suggested to Kathryn that maybe she should begin writing her next book. But Kathryn refused. She believed in her story, and she wanted to get THAT book published before she wrote another. She pressed on through 60 rejections until an agent sold “The Help” to Amy Einhorn Books—and the rest is history.

On Facebook, my friends discussed whether it was wise for Kathryn to put all of her hope into one manuscript. What do you think? How many rejection letters are enough to herald moving on to something else?

Best-selling Books Repeatedly Rejected by Publishers

Auntie Mame, (rejected 15 times)
Jonathan Livingston Seagull (18)
Chicken Soup for the Soul (140)
Kon-Tiki (20)
Harry Potter (9)
Lorna Doone (18)
M*A*S*H* (21)
Carrie (30)
Gone With the Wind (38)
A Wrinkle in Time (26)

Read more about it.


Stephenie said...

I wouldn't give up on a great manuscript, but there's no reason to hold off writing another one while you're sending the first one out. She took a lot of risks with that strategy, and I'm not sure why she did it. Why wait to write the next one?

Karen Lange said...

I'd read about how many times The Help was rejected but didn't know about these others. As much as we dislike rejection, it is nice to know that we are always in good company. Plus, I think ultimately it makes us stronger. Thanks for sharing this, Jean!