Read This to Assuage the Sting of Rejection

So you’ve received a rejection letter or two, maybe even dozens. Don’t let it get you down because you’re in good company. I researched the top 20 best-selling authors of all time and discovered that quite a few were rejected, in some cases hundreds of times. That’s right: hundreds of rejections. Here are a few examples from the top 20 with the rank beside their name:

Agatha Christie (#2): She started out writing short stories and most of her early works were rejected. All the publishers she submitted her first novel to rejected it. However, she went on to write 85 books, which have sold 4 billion copies, making her one of the world’s best-selling writers, second only to Shakespeare.

J.K. Rowling (#11): Twelve publishers received the first novel in the Harry Potter series and all of them rejected it. Yet, she continued to submit the novel and the series became the best-selling book series in history, selling 450 million copies. The movie version of the books is also the top-selling movie series in history.

Stephen King (#19): Initially, he pinned rejection letters to the wall with a small tack. As the rejections accumulated, the tack became a nail and then a railroad spike. To date he has written about 70 books, selling 350 million copies.

What did these authors have in common? They never gave up.

We may not be able to find motivation among a mounting pile of rejection letters like Stephen King, so I wanted to share an inspirational letter I found among my daughter’s schoolwork. It’s just a few words of encouragement from one of her sweet friends. I thought it was adorable.

Never Give Up


Also, while researching this topic, I stumbled upon the following articles you might find encouraging.



What is the Insecure Writers Support Group?

IWSG badgePurpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time.

The IWSG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. This month’s co-hosts are:  Krista McLaughlin, Kim Van Sickler, Heather Gardner,  Hart Johnson! Please visit their blogs and thank them for supporting this amazing group.

Are you an insecure writer? Would you like to join the group? Click here for the sign up page.


19 thoughts on “Read This to Assuage the Sting of Rejection”

    1. Unfortunately, I did. The rejections were so thoughtfully worded I thought I should, but after sending a couple of responses, I read this is a big no-no. They have enough e-mail to sift through, so don’t add to it.

  1. I think insecure and writer are two words that automatically go together. Is any writer ever truly secure in their own work? Though I’ve seen the numbers of rejections time and time again, I truly have to return to them often to remind myself what you have espoused in this post: never, ever, ever give up!

    By the way, did you know Sara Gruen submitted WATER FOR ELEPHANTS to 129 literary agents before it found the right one? Now THAT is persistence!

    Thanks for the post, Melissa.

  2. Great post Melissa, just today I felt blank and scared to write. I was scared for some reasons unknown to me but thanks for this. Its really encouraging. I will pick up my pen again… Writing the next bestseller. *winks

  3. I love the the tid bit on Stephen King and his railroad spike! That’s one that I’ll bear in mind for the next stinging rejection 🙂

    I heard of a writer (who’s name escapes me now) who made it on the NYT best sellers list but he got constantly rejected for 20 years before he managed to publish his first book. That kind of persistence is awe inspiring.

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