There is a lesson to be learned from these rejections.
(Theodor Seuss Geisel's first book was rejected by 27 publishers - this is why)
'too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.'
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
(LeGuin's book went on to win both a Nebula and a Hugo award and to reshape a genre)
'The book is so endlessly complicated by details of reference and information, the interim legends become so much of a nuisance despite their relevance, that the very action of the story seems to be to become hopelessly bogged down and the book, eventually, unreadable.'
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
(winner of the Nebula award)
"We've already published our feminist novel this year, so we don't want another" … "I'm sick and tired of these kinds of women's novels that are just one long whiny complaint."
Mary Higgins Clark
(rejected 40 times)
'Your story is light, slight, and trite.'
(Colette went on to publish 50 books)
"You won't be able to sell 10 copies."
Bridge Over River Kwai by Pierre Boulle
'A very bad book.'
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
"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."
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
(sold more than 7.25 million copies)
"Jonathan Livingston Seagull will never make it as a paperback."
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
'An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would "take"...I think the verdict would be 'Oh don't read that horrid book'.'
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
' ...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 cliché in all the books, lets every good scene fall apart in endless talk and allows her book to ramble aimlessly ...'
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
'I wish there were an audience for a book of this kind. But there isn't. It won't sell.'
'(Your poems) are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and are generally devoid of true poetical qualities.'
Edgar Allen Poe
'Readers in this country have a decided and strong preference for works in which a single and connected story occupies the entire volume.'
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
'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...'
'(Your book is) forbidding and depressing.'
The Torrents of Spring by Ernest Hemingway
'It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it.'
'I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don't know how to use the English language.'
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
'Good God, I can't publish this!'