Famous Literary Rejection Letters: Examples From The Biggest Publishers

Rejection is an unfortunate reality for many writers, even those who eventually find great success. In this article, we’ll take a look at famous literary rejection letters from some of the biggest publishers in the world. These stories are a testament to the fact that perseverance is key when it comes to following your passion.


Before we dive into these notable examples of literary rejection, it’s important to remember that even the most celebrated authors faced their fair share of setbacks. These rejection letters serve as a reminder that perseverance and belief in one’s own work can lead to eventual success.

J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a global phenomenon, but it wasn’t always that way. Rowling received numerous rejection letters before Bloomsbury Publishing finally accepted her manuscript. The now-famous rejection letters from several publishers emphasized that the book was too long and too slow-paced for children. Little did they know, the series would go on to sell over 500 million copies worldwide.

George Orwell and Animal Farm

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is considered one of the greatest political allegories of all time. However, when Orwell submitted his manuscript to publishers, it faced multiple rejections. One particularly scathing rejection letter from an editor stated that the book was simply a “stupid and pointless fable.” Today, Animal Farm is studied in classrooms worldwide and is widely regarded as a literary classic.

Agatha Christie and her First Novel

Agatha Christie is known as the Queen of Crime, with over 2 billion books sold worldwide. However, her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was rejected by multiple publishers. One publisher even advised her to give up writing mysteries altogether. Fortunately, Christie persevered, and the book was eventually published in 1920. This marked the beginning of her illustrious career.

Stephen King and Carrie

Before Stephen King became a household name in horror fiction, he too faced rejection. King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected by 30 publishers before it was finally accepted by Doubleday. Some rejection letters claimed the book was “garbage” and would never sell. Today, Carrie has sold millions of copies and has been adapted into multiple films.

F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is now regarded as a masterpiece of American literature. However, the path to publication was not an easy one. When Fitzgerald submitted his manuscript, one editor wrote that the book was “absurd” and that the characters were unlikable. Despite these rejections, Fitzgerald’s belief in his work never wavered, and The Great Gatsby was eventually published. Today, it is celebrated for its insightful portrayal of the Jazz Age and its complex characters.

Final Thoughts

These famous literary rejection letters serve as a reminder that even the most successful authors faced obstacles before they found success. Rejection is a natural part of the creative process, and persistence is essential for any aspiring writer. So, the next time you receive a rejection letter, remember that you are in good company. Keep honing your craft, believing in your work, and, most importantly, never give up.

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