I shared this with my pub group and thought you all might enjoy it also -
"I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don't know how to use the English
language." Editor of the San Fransciso Examiner to Rudyard Kipling.
Mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark recently received a $60 plus million
dollar advance on her next five books, but this is what happened when
she was sending out her manuscript "Journey Back to Love" in the early
1960s: "We found the heroine as boring as her husband did."
Classic writer Colette was told in a letter of rejection: "I wouldn't be
able to sell 10 copies."
A rejection letter to Pierre Boulle about his "Bridge Over River Kwai"
said, "A very bad book."
Jean Auel, author of "The Clan of Cave Bear" was told, "We are very
impressed with the depth and scope of your research and the quality of
your prose. Nevertheless ... we don't think we could distribute enough
copies to satisfy you or ourselves."
A letter rejecting "The Diary of Anne Frank" said, "The girl doesn't, it
seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that
book above the 'curiosity' level."
"Jonathan Livingston Seagull will never make it as a paperback." From
the publisher of a magazine refusing an offer to bid on the paperback
rights to Richard Bach's best selling novel. Avon Books eventually
bought those rights and sales totaled more than 7.25 million copies.
H.G. Wells had to endure the indignity of a rejection when he submitted
his manuscript, "The War of the Worlds" that said, "An endless
nightmare. I do not believe it would "take"...I think the verdict would
be 'Oh don't read that horrid book'."
And when he tried to market "The Time Machine," it was said, "It is not
interesting enough for the general reader and not thorough enough for
the scientific reader."
Jacqueline Susann's "Valley of the Dolls" received this response,
"...she is a painfully dull, inept, clumsy, undisciplined, rambling and
thoroughly amateurish writer whose every sentence, paragraph and scene
cries for the hand of a pro. She wastes endless pages on utter trivia,
writes wide-eyed romantic scenes ...hauls out every terrible show biz
cliche in all the books, lets every good scene fall apart in endless
talk and allows her book to ramble aimlessly ..."
When Irving Stone sent his manuscript, "Lust for Life," this is what
came back in the mail: "A long, dull novel about an artist." I guess
that meant "No thanks."
Even Dr. Seuss was not above the scathing rejection, "...too different
from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling."
Before Ayn Rand became known as an intellectual and her books as
classics, she had to get past this from one publisher: "It is badly
written and the hero is unsympathetic." And this from another: "I wish
there were an audience for a book of this kind. But there isn't. It
won't sell." So much for "The Fountainhead." Fourteen years later she
was sending "Atlas Shrugged" on its publishing rounds and reading in the
return mail: "... the book is much too long. There are too many long
speeches... I regret to say that the book is unsaleable and unpublishable."
To writer Samuel Johnson (though I don't know which book the editor was
referring to): "Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part
that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good."
Regarding "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" it was written "(this book
has) no future ..."
Did you know that only seven of Emily Dickinson's poems were ever
published during her lifetime? A rejection early in her career said,
"(Your poems) are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and
are generally devoid of true poetical qualities."
Edgar Allen Poe was told, "Readers in this country have a decided and
strong preference for works in which a single and connected story
occupies the entire volume."
Herman Melville, who had written a manuscript entitled "Moby Dick," was
told, "We regret to say that our united opinion is entirely against the
book as we do not think it would be at all suitable for the Juvenbile
Market in (England). It is very long, rather old-fashioned..."
Jack London heard, "(Your book is) forbidding and depressing."
Ernest Hemingway, regarding his novel, "The Torrents of Spring" was
rejected with, "It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of
being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it." Ouch!
William Faulkner may be a classic writer to this, as well as prior,
generation, but back when he was trying to crack the publishing market,
he had to read letters like this one, "If the book had a plot and
structure, we might suggest shortening and revisions, but it is so
diffuse that I don't think this would be of any use. My chief objection
is that you don't have any story to tell." This was kinder than the
rejection he would receive just two years later, "Good God, I can't
8 years ago