Quotes of Note

The quotes in this post are notable because they were so wrong.  In all cases books that are now time-honored (and in many cases have been turned into time-honored movies) were rejected by publishers.  In many cases the name and firm of the rejecting party is unknown, and that’s probably best for the folks who missed their chance to publish books that, in many cases, have sold millions of copies.

“We are returning under separate cover The All-Story magazine (Oct 1912) containing your story, “Tarzan of the Apes.” We have give the work careful consideration and while interesting we find it does not fit in with our plans for the present year. Thanking you for submitting the story to us. – Rand McNally & Co. rejection of Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

“What we envisage as saleable . . . is perhaps a series of small books devoted to particular portions of the meal . . . We also feel that such a series should meet a rigorous standard of simplicity and compactness, certainly less elaborate than your present volume, which, although we are sure are foolproof, are undeniably demanding in the time and focus of the cook, who is so apt to be mother, nurse, chauffeur, and cleaner as well.” – Rejection of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Berthole

“I wouldn’t be able to sell 10 copies.” – Rejection of Claudine in School by Colette

“. . . too cruel for us.” – Rejection of Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane

“Neither long enough for a serial nor short enough for a single story.” – Rejection of A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

“. . . immoral and badly written . . . the choice of your characters has been unfortunate . . . not the best kind of book for a young author to make his first book.” – Rejection of Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

“Good God, I can’t publish this.  We’d both be in jail.” – Rejection of Sanctuary by William Faulkner

“. .  . the story does not seem to work up to a conclusion;—neither the hero’s career nor his character are shown to be brought to any stage which justifies an ending . . . It seems to us in short that the story does not culminate in anything.” – Rejection of This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“You have buried your novel underneath a heap of details which are well done but utterly superfluous.” – Rejection of Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.” – Rejection of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

It does not seem to us that you have been wholly successful in working out an admittedly promising idea.” – Rejection of Lord of the Flies by William Golding

“I do not see anything in this to convince me you can write either narrative or fiction.” – Rejection of The Last of the Plainsmen by Zane Grey

“It is always possible that a reader who goes in for this zany-epigram stuff will think it is a work of genius, and of course he may be right.  But from your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.” – Rejection of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

“For your own good do not publish this book.” – Rejection of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence

“It is impossible to sell animal stories in America” – Rejection of Animal Farm by George Orwell

“I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one brain. Only one being. Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your M.S. three or four times. Not even one time. Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.  Many thanks. I am returning the M.S. by registered post. Only one M.S. by one post.” – A. C. Fifield’s rejection letter of a manuscript submitted by Gertrude Stein (employing the same stream of consciousness writing that she used in some of her books)

This entry was posted in Books, Quotes of Note. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s