Tag Archives: Gone with the Wind

Rejected Best-Sellers – If At First You Don’t Succeed (Try, Try, Again)

For those of you who have aspirations of becoming a best selling author, here are 14 best-selling books that were repeatedly rejected by publishers – as originally reported by How Things Work:

  1. Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
    Based on his party-throwing, out-of-control aunt, Patrick Dennis’s story defined in 1955 what Americans now know as “camp.” However, before Vanguard Press picked it up, 15 other publishers rejected it. Within years, Auntie Mame would not only become a hit on Broadway but a popular film as well. Dennis became a millionaire and, in 1956, was the first author in history to have three books simultaneously ranked on The New York Times best-seller list.
  2. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
    Richard Bach has always said that this story, told from the point of view of a young seagull, wasn’t written but channeled. When he sent out the story, Bach received 18 rejection letters. Nobody thought a story about a seagull that flew not for survival but for the joy of flying itself would have an audience. Boy, were they wrong! Macmillan Publishers finally picked up Jonathan Livingston Seagull in 1972, and that year the book sold more than a million copies. A movie followed in 1973, with a sound track by Neil Diamond.
  3. Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
    Within a month of submitting the first manuscript to publishing houses, the creative team behind this multimillion dollar series got turned down 33 consecutive times. Publishers claimed that “anthologies don’t sell” and the book was “too positive.” Total number of rejections? 140. Then, in 1993, the president of Health Communications took a chance on the collection of poems, stories, and tidbits of encouragement. Today, the 65-title series has sold more than 80 million copies in 37 languages.
  4. Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
    With a name like Thor, adventure on the high seas is sort of a given, isn’t it? In 1947, Heyerdahl took a crew of six men on a 4,300-mile journey across the Pacific Oc­ean. But not on a cruise ship — their vessel was a reproduction of a prehistoric balsa wood raft, and the only modern equipment they carried was a radio. Heyerdahl wrote the true story of his journey from Peru to Polynesia, but when he tried to get it published, he couldn’t. One publisher asked him if anyone had drowned. When Heyerdahl said no, they rejected him on the grounds that the story wouldn’t be very interesting. In 1953, after 20 rejections, Kon-Tiki finally found a publisher — and an audience. The book is now available in 66 languages.
  5. The Peter Principle by Laurence Peter
    In 1969, after 16 reported rejections, Canadian professor Laurence Peter’s business book about bad management finally got a green light from Bantam Books. Within one year, the hardcover version of The Peter Principle was in its 15th reprint. Peter went on to write The Peter Prescription, The Peter Plan, and the unintentionally amusing The Peter Pyramid: Will We Ever Get to the Point? None of Peter’s follow-up books did as well as the original, but no one can deny the book’s impact on business publishing.
  6. Dubliners by James Joyce
    It took 22 rejections before a publisher took a chance on a young James Joyce in 1914. They didn’t take too big of a chance — only 1,250 copies of Dubliners were initially published. Joyce’s popularity didn’t hit right away; out of the 379 copies that sold in the first year, Joyce himself purchased 120 of them. Joyce would go on to be regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Dubliners, a collection of short stories, is among the most popular of Joyce’s titles, which include A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Finnegans Wake, and Ulysses.
  7. Lorna Doone by Richard Doddridge Blackmore
    You know you’ve done well when you’ve got a cookie named after your novel’s heroine. Not only does Nabisco’s Lorna Doone cookie remind us of Blackmore’s classic, but there are nearly a dozen big-screen or TV versions of the story as well. This Devonshire-set romance of rivalry and revenge was turned down 18 times before being published in 1889. Today, Blackmore is considered one of the greatest British authors of the 19th century, though his popularity has waned over time.
  8. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
    Pirsig’s manuscript attempts to understand the true meaning of life. By the time it was finally published in 1974, the book had been turned down 121 times. The editor who finally published Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance said of Pirsig’s book, “It forced me to decide what I was in publishing for.” Indeed, Zen has given millions of readers an accessible, enjoyable book for seeking insight into their own lives.
  9. M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker
    Before the television series, there was the film. Before the film, there was the novel. Richard Hooker’s unforgettable book about a medical unit serving in the Korean War was rejected by 21 publishers before eventually seeing the light of day. It remains a story of courage and friendship that connects with audiences around the world in times of war and peace.
  10. Carrie by Stephen King
    If it hadn’t been for Stephen King’s wife, Tabitha, the iconic image of a young girl in a prom dress covered in pig’s blood would not exist. King received 30 rejections for his story of a tormented girl with telekinetic powers, and then he threw it in the trash. Tabitha fished it out. King sent his story around again and, eventually, Carrie was published. The novel became a classic in the horror genre and has enjoyed film and TV adaptations as well. Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement from someone who believes in you.
  11. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    The only book that Margaret Mitchell ever published, Gone With the Wind won her a Pulitzer Prize in 1937. The story of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, set in the South during the Civil War, was rejected by 38 publishers before it was printed. The 1939 movie made of Mitchell’s love story, which starred Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, is the highest grossing Hollywood film of all time (adjusted for inflation).
  12. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
    The publishing house of Farrar, Straus and Giroux was smart enough to recognize the genius in L’Engle’s tale for people of all ages. Published in 1962, the story was awarded the prestigious Newbery Medal the following year. Wrinkle remains one of the best-selling children’s books of all time, and the story of precocious children and the magical world they discover was adapted for television in 2001. Still, L’Engle amassed 26 rejections before this success came her way.
  13. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison by Charles Shaw
    In 1952, Crown Publishing Group in New York took a chance on the story of a shipwreck in the South Pacific. Shaw, an Australian author, was rejected by dozens of publishers on his own continent and by an estimated 20 British publishing firms, too. By 1957, this humorous tale was made into a movie starring Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum. The story and the movie are considered war classics and garnered several Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Writing.
  14. Dune by Frank Herbert
    This epic science-fiction story was rejected by 23 publishers before being accepted by Chilton, a small Philadelphia publisher. Dune quickly became a success, winning awards such as the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1966. Dune was followed by five sequels, and though none did as well as the original, a film version of the book starring rock star Sting did quite well and remains a cult favorite.

Contributing writers to the original article: Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen.

Enjoy!

Ten Books to Read Before you Die

AOL recently suggested Ten Books to Read Before You Die

I’ve listed them here along with AOL’s comments, then posted some of my suggestions and comments below.  It’s not that I believe I am as smart or as literate as AOL’s marketing team, I just possess a different sensibility about the books I think are important.

AOL’s list:

1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – Published in 1936, Gone with the Wind sold 50,000 copies on its first day, and two million after a year. Even though it is 1,037 pages long, readers all over the world snatched up the book. In 1937 it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Mitchell prided herself on the historical accuracy of her work. Gone with the Wind is a sweeping account of how the Civil War tore apart an entire way of life, and Scarlett O’Hara is one of the most enduring characters in American fiction.

2. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein – Lord of the Rings is regarded by many to be the most important and influential work of fantasy of the 20th century. It generated the fantasy novel industry practically single-handedly, inspiring a multitude of novels concerning elves and dwarves on quests to conquer ultimate evil despite overwhelming odds. Although intended to be published as a single volume, its division into a trilogy created the iconic format for epic fantasy literature.

3. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Follow Harry Potter from his first days at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, through his many adventures with Hermione and Ron, to his confrontations with rival Draco Malfoy and the dreaded Professor Snape. From a dangerous descent into the Chamber of Secrets to the Triwizard Tournament to the return of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, each adventure is more riveting and exhilarating than its predecessor.

4. The Stand by Stephen King – In 1978, Stephen King published The Stand , the novel that is now considered to be one of his finest works. It depicts his apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil. It is a gripping work with the scope and moral complexity of a true epic. Those reading The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.

5. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered. Near the body, police have found a baffling cipher. While working to solve the enigmatic riddle, Robert Langdon is stunned to discover it leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci — clues visible for all to see — yet ingeniously disguised by the painter. The Da Vinci Code heralds the arrival of a new breed of lightning-paced, intelligent thriller…utterly unpredictable right up to its stunning conclusion.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird is about the crisis of human behavior and conscience arising from the racism and prejudice that exist in the small Southern town during the Depression. Scout Finch tells the story of her father’s defense of Tom Robinson, a young black man who is being tried for the rape of a white woman. Harper Lee’s only novel, awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, is a much-beloved tale of growing up, as well as an exploration of heroism confronted with bigotry.

7. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown – When a canister of anti-matter is stolen from a Swiss research facility, Robert Langdon is called in to investigate. A Harvard professor, Langdon is an expert on the ancient, quasi-scientific, and widely feared organization know as the Illuminati, who may or may not be wrapped up in the mystery. Angels and Demons preceeds The Da Vinci Code.

8. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – Rand’s 1200-page novel Atlas Shrugged is a hymn of praise to the concept of rugged individualism, personified in John Galt. This polemic for Rand’s philosophy of “rational self-interest” has been a steady seller since it was published in 1957.

9. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – J. D. Salinger’s famous and enduring chronicle of Holden Caulfield’s journey from innocence to experience is the quintessential coming-of-age novel. Salinger’s 1951 novel Catcher in the Rye was a bestseller and became an immediate cult favorite, but it has also, over the years, been subject to criticism and even censorship because of its liberal use of profanity, its frank conversations about sex, and its generally irreverent view of the adult world.

10. The Holy Bible – The most popular and best-selling book of all time is the Holy Bible . No book has had more influence on the world. Its pages tell the story of the creation, fall, and redeption of mankind and the coming of Jesus Christ in the Gospels. The Bible contains epic stories of history, heroism, and hope.

My list:

1. The Bible – Tenth on AOL’s list?  That seems like an AOL nod to the religious right after listing Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code.  Since “no book has had more influence on the world,” shouldn’t it be listed first?  Whatever.

2. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving – I’m a broken record when advocating for this book.  There is no character in literature more compelling than Owen Meany.  How can you go wrong with a book that begins, “I AM DOOMED to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – AOL’s description doesn’t do it justice, but mine likely wouldn’t either.  Just read the book.

4. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein – Good choice.  I’d suggest The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis for those who would rather stay above ground.  Tolkein and Lewis were friends and engaged in a friendly competition of storytelling, so I don’t see why their books can’t stand alongside each other on a shelf (or in our hands).

5. Watchers by Dean Koontz – Although The Stand is a good one, I tend to prefer Koontz over King – although King is a GREAT writer.  Just my preference, I’m willing to be friends with King fans (I liked IT, the Green Mile, and Shawshank Redemption).  Watchers gave rise to Fear Nothing and Seize the Night (with Chris Snow and friends) and caused me to want to befriend a dog named Einstein.  I also give a HUGE nod to the Odd Thomas series by Koontz.

6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – How could Dickens be left from the list?  Great Expectations is richly descriptive about life in Victorian England.  A historical treat about the illusions of life.  A nod also to A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist.  Just read something by Dickens at least once in your lifetime, even if it is the ever popular A Christmas Carol.

7. What’s So Great About Christianity? by Dinesh D’Souza – An interesting read for Christians and Atheists alike.  It is a reluctant look at Christianity with equal skepticism toward atheism.  A fascinating read.

8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – A frightening look at a society we seem determined to emulate.  A nod also to The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis.

9. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Although I enjoyed The Catcher in the Rye, I prefer Ralph, Piggy, and the Savages and their loss of innocence while developing their own sense of self and society.

10. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe – An excellent look at the colonization of Africa through the eyes of a tribal chief.

11. Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  An amazing tale of courage… with a twist.

I realize I have listed 11 rather than 10 and that a couple of these are not on my personal top 10, but these are the books that (I think) are more than a guilty pleasure.

I have nothing against Harry Potter, Dan Brown, or Ayn Rand (I realize I’m wandering between a fictional character and a couple of authors), I’ve just never read them and so don’t feel comfortable suggesting them to anyone else.  They are on my TBR list, I just haven’t made it to them yet – I have found other material more compelling at the moment.  Perhaps after reading them I’ll add them to a must read list.