Famous Author Rejection Letters: What Writers Could Learn from Them

Flynn Hannan
Writers Republic
Published in
5 min readJan 30


famous author rejection letters

If you are thinking of publishing a book of your very own, it is important that you steel yourself. You should go into the endeavor with optimism, yet you should not leave out the possibility that your work will be rejected. Traditional publishing houses are particularly difficult to get a publishing deal with. Publisher’s rejection is very common because they are often very strict when it comes to the books that they publish.

There is a big possibility that your book will be rejected by a traditional publishing house. Should this happen, you should not lose heart. Remember that you are not the only writer that has been rejected by a publishing house. Here are famous authors who got rejected, their rejection letters, and what writers could learn from them.

1. Stephen King

Stephen King is often considered the most successful and beloved horror story writer in history. Many even call him the King of the Horror story genre.

This is justified because he has written many iconic books, such as The Shining, Pet Sematary, and Carrie, to name just a few. However, his early career was not smooth sailing. It was anything but easy.

His first hit creation is the novel Carrie. While it gained him a great deal of fame, he had a hard time getting it published. He was rejected by publishing houses. It got so bad that he threw the manuscript in the trash.

Luckily, his wife found the manuscript and urged him to try even more. His book eventually got accepted by a publishing house, which launched him into the limelight.

What we could learn from him:

There will be times when you will be tempted to quit. You may have a lot of rejections, and some publishers may even tell you to give up. Never listen to these naysayers.

If Stephen King just quit on his dreams of becoming a writer, then we wouldn’t have such classic horror stories. You never know. Maybe all it takes is one final push, and you will also achieve success in your writing endeavors. So keep going and do your very best.

2. Sylvia Plath

The poet Sylvia Plath may be considered one of the greatest poets of her time. However, she had her fair share of publishing challenges. Aside from being rejected by the publishing houses, some of the rejection letters were downright hurtful.

As great a writer as she was, her first and only novel, The Bell Jar also received rejection from publishing houses. The book was negatively received by many publishing houses. She wrote under the pen name Victoria Lucas, and while some of the publishers were embarrassed and shocked that it was actually Sylvia Plath who sent in the manuscript, they still rejected her.

A particularly scathing letter even said, “There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.” Instead of being discouraged, she tried even harder, and managed to get her work published. On the rejection she would say, “I love my rejection slips, they show me I try”

What we could learn from her:

Sylvia Plath’s reaction to the rejection is how we should all react to bad news. She did not take it personally and even took strength from it. As a writer, you should take rejection as a part of the experience, and use them to propel your own writing journey.

3. Rudyard Kipling

The great novelist Rudyard Kipling was able to create one of the most wonderful novels of his era. He was responsible for classics such as The Jungle Book and the poem If.

Looking at his accomplishments, one would think that he had an easy time getting a publishing deal. However, he had his fair share of challenges.

He even once received a rejection letter wherein the publisher said: I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you don’t know how to use the English language. This is astounding, because Rudyard Kipling’s prose is one of the most admired in the world. It is a good thing that he did not listen to the naysayers and just soldiered on.

What we could learn from him:

Despite the negative remarks from the rejection letters, Mr. Kipling soldiered on, and created a great writing career for himself. Nothing less from the author who wrote the poem If. We should all learn from him, and develop the same level of grit. We should not only develop this in our writing careers, but in every aspect of our lives as well. This will help us achieve great things in the long run.

4. Ernest Hemingway

Considered one of the most prolific and famous writers of his time, you would think that Ernest Hemingway would have no problem getting a publishing deal. Surprisingly, he had to struggle to get a publishing deal like any other newbie writer. He was once even told this scathing remark about his book, The Torrents of Spring.

It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it.

The Torrents Of Spring was not the only book that was rejected by publishers. His other book, The Sun Also Rises, received a rejection letter from the publisher Peacock & Peacock that was also just as scathing.

What we could learn from him:

Ernest Hemingway was known as a particularly complicated man. However, there was never any doubt about his confidence. We could all stand to develop his kind of confidence in our writing careers. In any kind of endeavor, you should always be confident.


In the course of your writing career, there will be times when you get rejected by a publishing company. This is understandable because publishing companies are often very strict with their choice of books, and reject books on a regular basis. This is still a painful experience for many new writers, though. Famous author rejection letters remind us that there are many reasons why exceptional works are not selected for publication straight away (or after 25 years!). In truth, writers that were rejected end up becoming stronger in the long run. What matters is that you don’t give up. Remember, there’s only one way to get published. Keep on writing and submitting!

Posts you might also like:

Secrets to Become a Successful Author

Daily Writing Habits of Famous Authors That Every Writer Should Emulate!

4 Types of Book Publishing Companies Every Writers Should Know



Flynn Hannan
Writers Republic

Bibliophile , Senior Indie Editor at Writers Republic