John Grisham‘s first novel, A Time to Kill, was rejected 28 times before he found an unknown publisher who was willing to print a short run. Without the benefit of a major publisher’s marketing, Grisham went directly to booksellers encouraging them to stock his book. Since that time, he has written 25 best-selling novels, among them The Firm, The Brethren, and The Summons.
A publisher forwarded The Spy Who Came In From the Cold to a colleague with a note that read, “You’re welcome to leCarre. He hasn’t got any future.” John le Carre‘s book went on to become a bestseller and Publisher’s Weekly named it “best spy novel of all time.”
The first Harry Potter book was turned down by eight agents, and when J.K. Rowling finally got a deal, she was warned by the publisher, “You’ll never make any money with children’s books.” Since that time, the Potter books have won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies, and been the basis for a popular series of films.
After a five-year legal career, Lisa Scottoline decided to stay home, raise her daughter, and write part-time. It took five years to get published. In the meantime, she lived off her credit cards and was “broker than broke.” One of her early rejections is permanently etched in memory. The agent informed her that they didn’t have time to take on any more clients, and even if they did, they wouldn’t take her. She persisted and has written 22 best-sellers which are available in 25 countries.