There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.Rudyard Kipling:
I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.
[Your poems] are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and are generally devoid of true poetical qualities.
Ernest Hemingway (on The Torrents of Spring):
It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it.
Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.
The Diary of Anne Frank:
The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.
H.G. Wells (on The War of the Worlds):
An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would “take”…I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book’. And (on The Time Machine): It is not interesting enough for the general reader and not thorough enough for the scientific reader.
Herman Melville (on Moby Dick):
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 Juvenile Market in [England]. It is very long, rather old-fashioned…
Stephen King (on Carrie): We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.
Joseph Heller (on Catch–22):
I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.
George Orwell (on Animal Farm):
It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.
Oscar Wilde (on Lady Windermere’s Fan): My dear sir, I have read your manuscript. Oh, my dear sir.
Vladimir Nabokov (on Lolita):
… overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian … the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream … I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was turned down so many times, Beatrix Potter initially self-published it
Gertrude Stein spent 22 years submitting before getting a single poem accepted.
Frank Herbert’s Dune was rejected 20 times.
Carrie by Stephen King received 30 rejections.
The Diary of Anne Frank received 16 rejections.
Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rolling was rejected 12 times.
Dr. Seuss received 27 rejection letters