FailureWriters-website

Famous writers don’t need to seek literary agents and publishers. They don’t have to worry if their books will sell or not. Famous writers don’t have day jobs and have the privilege of doing only what they love – write.

We dream to become one of them. We wish to be where they are now. But did we ever think where were they before becoming famous? Well I can tell you. They were exactly where you are now. Most of them came to success through failure. Many of them even through a massive failure…

Don’t believe me?

Well let’s see… From the many examples I have chosen those writers whom almost everyone knows. Even those who don’t read much and have not read their books have at least heard about them. None of them was an overnight success but all of them deserved the success.

1. J. K. Rowling

She gave birth to Harry Potter and the guy made her famous and rich. But things were not that smooth in the beginning. 12 publishers before that rejected her manuscript. So if she gave up, let’s say after the 10th rejection we would never know that Harry even existed.


2. John Grisham

He was a lawyer, who loved to write. His first book Time to Kill was written in 3 years and rejected by 27 different publishers. But now he is one of the bestselling authors with total copies of 250 million of his books sold.

3.  Steven King

Steven’s book Carrie was rejected 30 times, but once it was published it sold 1 million copies in the first year alone.

4. Stephanie Meyer

From the 15 literary agencies she wrote to 5 did not answer at all and the other 9 rejected her book. Only 1 gave her a chance and we all know what happened next.

5. Vladimir Nabokov

In one of the 26 rejections received from all major publishers he read “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years”. Vladimir finally found a publisher in France. Later Lolita was published by all those publishers that initially rejected it and sold around 50 million copies.

 6. Margaret Mitchell

She received 38 rejections before Gone with the Wind was published and as a result sold 30 million copies.

7. Audrey Niffenegger

25 literary agents rejected her debut manuscript. She mailed it unsolicited to a small publisher. The Time Traveller’s Wife sold 7 million copies since then.

 8. Kathryn Stockett

The Help was rejected 60 times and only the letter number 61 was with positive response.

 9. Nicholas Sparks

24 literary agencies turned down The Notebook. The 25th agent sold it to publisher for $1 million.

 10. William Saroyan

This one beat all the records. William collected a pile of rejection slips 30 inches high (around 6,000 !!!) before selling his first short story.

Whoever told you that you only have to write a good book lied to you. Whoever told it was easy and smooth lied too. Things will never be smooth and you won’t succeed without coming across failure once in a while. And you will succeed only if you don’t give up after the failure.

Keep writing, do your best and don’t give up and eventually you will get there sooner or later.

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    4 replies to "10 Famous Fiction Writers Who Reached Success Through Failure"

    • Jilly Henderson-Long

      Hi Ani. I loved this article so much that I have decided to print it off and stick it up so I can look at it often and remind myself. As someone who has been writing for fifty years, I can say quite confidently that even I need the occasional reminder. Despite having a proven track record of published work, including dozens of articles, hundreds or poems and even two books for children, my latest book for 7 – 9 year olds has now been rejected by agents and publishers alike around twenty times. Yet I believe in it fully and I am so convinced it is going to sell that I am going to self-publish it through Publish Nation. It may also be worth mentioning a book entitled The Voyage of the Artic Tern by Hugh Montgomery which was originally rejected a number of times because it did not fit into any one genre. He self published it himself and it was later snapped up by a major publisher! Thanks for your wise words. You are a tonic!!

      • Ani

        Thank you so much for your comment Jilly. I am glad that you liked the episode!

    • David W. Stewart

      I love to write. I have an income from three previous careers, I won a contest, heard Dan Poynter talk and said, “Why not?” I have four self-published novels that get good reviews and am working on my fifth. At 75, it beats checkers or golf. It’s important to keep your mind and body young. Researching a book opens all sorts of doors. The body part? Well, yoga helps. If one of the books hits the big time, so be it.

      • Ani

        Thank you so much for your comment David! People like you, who manage to keep their soul and body young inspire me 🙂

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