Feeling rejected? You’re not alone.

Yesterday, I read the final paragraph of a beautiful unpublished manuscript. I was excited for the writer because it was a terrific read and even better, not much work was required to get it ready to send out into the world.

Mind you, the thought of sending a copy of one’s manuscript out to publishers or agents can be a terrifying prospect. The fear of rejection can stop us in our tracks. But even the best of writers get knocked back sometimes. Don’t believe me? Just check out some of the rejection letters below. Fortunately, these authors didn’t quit when they received them.


J K Rowling

‘I regret we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we could not publish it with commercial success…’

Anais Nin

‘There is no commercial advantage in acquiring her, and, in my opinion, no artistic.’

Jack Kerouac

‘His frenetic and scrambled prose perfectly express the feverish travels of the Beat Generation.  But is that enough?  I don’t think so.’

D H Lawrence

‘For your own sake do not publish this book.’

William Golding

‘An absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.’


Letter to Gertrude Stein (with publisher mocking her unique style)

Sylvia Plath

‘There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.’

J  G Ballard

‘The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help.’

Norman Mailer

‘This will set publishing back 25 years.’

Irving Stone 

‘ A long, dull novel about an artist.’


Stephen King

‘We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias.  They do not sell.’

John le Carré

‘You’re welcome to le Carré – he hasn’t got any future.’

George Orwell

‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA’

Oscar Wilde

‘My dear sir, I have read your manuscript.  Oh, my dear sir.’

Vladimir Nabokov

‘… overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian  … I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.’


Some of the letters are absolutely awful and yet these authors had the courage to keep trying. Thank goodness they did. Be stubborn, be persistent. Hang in there and don’t give up on yourself or your dream.