Have you ever struggled with that niggling “Are you kidding?” inner voice, as in, “Are you kidding, taking yourself seriously?” Self-doubt afflicts us all at one time or another. This blog post is intended to provide the antidote this particular poison. What follow, Dear Readers, are excerpts of manuscript rejections garnered from the Net. Can you guess the recipients? You’ll find the answers and my sources at the end of the post.

  1. “Overwhelmingly nauseating. . . . The whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream. . . . I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.”
  1. “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”
  1. “If I may be frank . . . you certainly are in your prose — I found your efforts to be both tedious and offensive.
  1. An editor advises this writer to get a day job since she has little chance of making money in children’s books.
  1. “We feel that we don’t know the central character well enough.”
  1. “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.”
  1. “An absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”
  1. “Too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature.”
  1. “Unsaleable and unpublishable.”
  1. This manuscript about Southern class distinctions was rejected 60 times. On submission 61, it was accepted.
  1. “Frenetic and scrambled prose”
  1. “An endless nightmare. I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book’.”
  1. “Our united opinion is entirely against the book. It is very long, and rather old-fashioned.”
  1. “An absurd story as romance, melodrama or record of New York high life.”
  1. “Stick to teaching.”
  1. “I haven’t the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say. Apparently the author intends it to be funny.”
  1. “I rack my brains why a chap should need thirty pages to describe how he turns over in bed before going to sleep.”
  1. “The book is so endlessly complicated by details of reference, the interim legends become so much of a nuisance . . . that the very action of the story seems . . . to become hopelessly bogged down and the book, eventually, unreadable.”
  1. “The trouble is that she has not succeeded in using her material in a novelistic way; there is no viewpoint, no sifting out of . . . experiences.”
  1. The “point of view, which I take to be generally Trotskyite, is not convincing.”


The next time you get a rejection letter, fellow writers, do as the song suggests: pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again . . . with another round of submissions.



  1. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  2. Carrie, Stephen King
  3. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
  4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, K. Rowling
  5. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
  6. Lolita (again!), Vladimir Nabokov
  7. The Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  8. The Wizard of Oz, Frank Baum
  9. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
  10. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  11. On the Road, Frank Kerouac
  12. The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells
  13. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  14. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  15. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  16. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  17. Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust
  18. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin
  19. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
  20. Animal Farm, George Orwell


Excerpts were drawn from; The Telegraph, January 31, 2016; www.

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