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I really like the chart on page 20 about how many rejections famous authors have gotten for books that made them famous. This really shows that it's not about how good you are, it's about how your book appeals to certain people. Today, my former English professor posted about being displeased with the idea of a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird because "it wasn't that good." At the same time, almost everyone I've met here was required to read it in high school, so that shows how different people's opinions can be, even if they're equally educated in literature.

The creative writing teacher at my high school was trying to get a book published at the time I had her for a different class. Each time she got a rejection letter, she wrote the number of rejections in red ink across the letter and taped it to the wall. Underneath those letters was a banner that said "PERSEVERANCE."

In the attached photos, anyone in the US or the UK knows what my friend and I are wearing. Some could even guess our personalities. How many publishers didn't see that one coming? The second is an image of the book cover of Catcher in the Rye. A lot of people don't like that book and it also got rejected multiple times.

Catcher in the RyeCatcher in the Rye



Gavin Oliver's picture

Very encouraging post,

Very encouraging post, Christine. Because a great deal of time and effort is exerted while writing a book and attempting to publish, potential failure and its resulting disappointment is hard to overcome. Speaking to your point, here is an interesting list of famous people who eventually found fame following hardship.

clscott's picture

Thanks Gavin! I didn't know

Thanks Gavin! I didn't know that Mulberry Street was Seuss's first book. I remember having it, but I don't remember it well, other than thinking it didn't have much color in it. Some of his other books are more eye-catching. Check out my most recent post, which talks about Hop on Pop!

tpom13's picture

I really loved how you

I really loved how you brought up Harry Potter, because that is what I immediately thought of when I read the book too. It is important to know that success doesn't mean getting it right the first time, but to get it right eventually. It is hard to do that, especially as a writer, and your post was a good encouragment.

clscott's picture

I'm glad it's encouraging to

I'm glad it's encouraging to you. It's amazing to think of how many great works go unnoticed, simply because the creator hasn't shown their work to someone with a mind that's open enough to it.

jmalone's picture

I agree wholeheartedly,

I agree wholeheartedly, Christine!

The scary thing about opinions is that while everyone has one, some people's are valued a whole lot more than others. Imagine if your professor was working at J.P Lipincott in the middle of the 20th century, told Harper Lee what he thought of the book, and potentially deprived us of one of the great American novels of that particular time period. The idea of democratizing the publishing industry is attractive for the reason in that if something is to be successful, hopefully it can do so on the content of the work itself, and not what one guy with a desk in New York thinks about it.

Valerie Smith's picture

I really liked this

I really liked this particular blog post because, like your high school teacher, it is encouraging writers to persevere through the rejections and to never stop trying. You even showed us some huge names that got rejected many times. I agree that the ability to publish is in accordance to who really likes it. Its really unfair, but I guess that is life. Haha.

clscott's picture

This was my freshman year of

This was my freshman year of high school. It has since been determined that I'm most likely a Slytherin, but I could also be a Ravenclaw. This girl and I were in the Quidditch club a couple years later and we were on the Slytherin team. Tom Felton is a Gryffindor so things can change.

briana.993's picture

Your creative writing teacher

Your creative writing teacher sounds really cool! I like what you say about success coming from finding people who enjoy your writing. It reminds me of what Austin Kleon said about showing your work and how the people who will appreciate it will find it. Publishing sounds like a harsh process but giving something you worked so hard on to people who will cherish it seems to be a good enough reward!

clscott's picture

My creative writing teacher

My creative writing teacher was awesome! She had an interesting book about a girl who wanted to be famous, but she was fat and that made it difficult. She also really liked a guy, but he was gay. It's a unique story and it was a shame that it was overlooked so many times.

mkozma's picture


Hey Christine!

I agree with pretty much everybody here about the amount of effort it takes into getting published (in the traditional way--anyway). I know personally I would LOVE to write a book one day, but I know what it takes a lot of time and inner strength to get your work out there. Writing is always very personal and I think your creative writing teacher is is about "perseverance." You need to believe that you ARE a good writer, and that sooner or later your hard work will pay off. It just might take a little time.