I have to admit that the recent news of the closing of the Crimson Romance line of Simon & Schuster brought up unhappy memories for me. I’ve been traditionally published by four publishers, three of which have now gone out of business: LooseId, Samhain and Ellora’s Cave.
It’s not easy being a writer.
Where once only major publishing houses were the gatekeepers to whether your story was bought or not, the advent of smaller publishers gave more of us struggling writers a chance at realizing our dreams of becoming published authors. And indie publishing has been a boon for many writers.
When I get depressed about the current state of publishing, I only have to look at the great writers of history to cheer me up.
Many of these famous authors were in the same boat at one point in their careers:
REJECTED BY PUBLISHERSPearl S. Buck – The Good Earth – 14 times
Norman Mailer – The Naked and the Dead – 12 times
Patrick Dennis- Auntie Mame – 15 times
George Orwell – Animal Farm
Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston Seagull – 20 times
Joseph Heller - Catch-22 – 22 times (!)
Mary Higgins Clark – first short story – 40 times
Alex Haley – before Roots – 200 rejections
Robert Persig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – 121 times
John Grisham – A Time to Kill – 15 publishers and 30 agents (he ended up publishing it himself)
Chicken Soup for the Soul – 33 times
Louis L’Amour – 200 rejections
Jack London – 600 rejections before selling his first story
John Creasy – 774 rejections before selling his first story. He went on to write 564 books, using fourteen names.
Stephen King’s first four novels were rejected. This guy from Maine sent in this novel over the transom, said Bill Thompson, his former editor at Doubleday. Mr. Thompson, sensing something there, asked to see subsequent novels, but still rejected the next three. However, King withstood the rejection, and Mr. Thompson finally bought the fifth novel, despite his colleague’s lack of enthusiasm, for $2,500. It was called Carrie.
During his entire lifetime, Herman Melville’s timeless classic, Moby Dick, sold only 3,715 copies.
Edgar Allen Poe was offered only $14 as an advance for "Eureka" toward the end of his life, with the provision that if the book didn't earn that much, he would have to make up the difference to the publisher.
So… take heart! We have good company in the ‘struggling writer’ profession.
Until next month,