Wednesday, April 1, 2015

No April Fools Here

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

April can be a troublesome month. April showers (continual in my part of the world), taxes, spring cleaning, April, as T.S. Elliot observed “...can be the cruelest month.”

But, raise your heads, my fellow readers and writers! In the spirit of I Will Wade Through the Puddles and Get New Boots if Necessary - here is a list of 10 authors initially rejected by publishers.
  • 38 rejections - Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell
  • After 5 rejections, this author put her manuscript away in a hat box. Two years later she resubmits - Anne of Green Gables (Lucy Maud Montgomery)
  • “Stick to teaching” advice given by publisher rejecting her manuscript titled Little Women. Louisa May Allcott 
  • 140 rejection letters saying ‘Anthologies don’t sell’ - Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series 
  •  “An irresponsible holiday story that will never sell” wrote one publisher rejecting Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame
  • “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.” which is why this publisher passed on The Diary of Anne Frank
  • 5 literary agents turn it down. This author submits it herself as an unsolicited manuscript to a small publisher. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger
  • Three years of rejection letters pile into a bag which becomes too heavy to lift. The Princess Diaries (Meg Cabot
  • 5 years of rejection letters - Agatha Christie
  • Advised to get a day job, since the odds were she would not make much money writing children’s literature - J.K. Rowling

Elspeth Futcher is an author and playwright. Her murder mystery games A Fatal Fairy Tale, Deadly Ever After and Curiouser and Curiouser are among the top-selling mystery games on the Internet. All thirteen of her murder mystery games and two audience-interactive plays are published by Her newest game, Once Upon a Murder, is now available and published by Red Herring Games. Her 'writing sheep' are a continuing feature in the European writers' magazine Elias. Connect with her on Twitter at @elspethwrites or on Facebook at Elspeth Futcher, Author.


  1. And I bet 50 Shades of Grey was snapped right up. Publishing isn't fair. There are hundreds of great books that will never see the light of day. Pity.

    1. As I seem to remember, 50 Shades started off self-published. I could be wrong, though. I often am.

  2. One thing's for certain, you'll never know what might have been if you quit!

    1. So, so true, Diana! I try to remember that as I slog along.

  3. Published writers are the ones who didn't give up.

  4. Reminds me of the story about the guy who invented 1Up, 2Up, 3Up, 4Up, 5Up and finally 6Up before hanging himself.

  5. For those whose manuscripts are truly ready to be published -- beta reading, professional editing, and careful proofreading done -- and who are primed to take on the daunting task of marketing, this list contains 10 good reasons to self-publish, especially if the pile of rejections just keeps growing and growing.

    1. 'Truly ready' - that's the thing to remember, isn't it, Linda?

  6. April is starting out very, very busy. Those rejections are great lessons on not giving up.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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