Multiple publishers turned down these books,
but collectors would love to turn some up
We have come frighteningly close to missing some of the most popular books ever published. Many books that we regard as classics are available to us now because of the dogged persistence of the authors, who refused to take "no" from multiple publishers.
It will come as no news to the authors of books that it is difficult to persuade a publisher to publish them. But it may come as a surprise to you. A few examples of books that almost weren't are below, plus current prices for what those books are going for now -- because in addition to the publishers who regret publishing these books, collectors have regrets, too!
"The Thomas Berryman Affair" was James Patterson's first novel. Publishers rejected it 31 times before #32 said "yes." It is estimated now that one in every six books sold in the world has James Patterson as its author, and now a first edition will cost you around $1000.
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." The book that launched the veritable empire that is Harry Potter was rejected more than 10 times by a variety of publishing houses. It was only after one agent's daugher nagged him into green-lighting the book that it saw the light of day and became an international sensation. $2500.
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." L. Frank Baum was rejected for publication so many times that he kept a journal called "A Record of Failure," made up of all the rejection letters he received. Now available for around $60,000.
"Gone with the Wind." Margaret Mitchell's manuscript was rejected by nearly 40 publishers before it finally hit the shelves. It later won a Pulitzer Prize. $85,000.
"Dune." Frank Herbert went through more than 20 publishers until the book was finally accepted. The novel was later adapted into a variety of media, including a miniseries and film, and also won a Hugo and Nebula award. $11,000.
"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle was rejected 25 times. It became the first book of a successful series, an international bestseller, and inspiration for a film adaptation. It also won a Newberry Medal. $9,000.
Here are a few more: Dr. Seuss's "And To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street" 27 rejections, $400..."Catch 22" 22 rejections (appropriately), $4000...Stephen King's "Carrie" 30 rejections, $3000 and our winner, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" 121 rejections, $1700, proving once again that hindsight is 20/20.