World’s Famous Books That Got Rejected Time After Time


Even if you have the most exceptional writing style in the world, sometimes it’s just not enough to have the publishers pick up your book right off the bat. Even the future “king of horrors” and the first writer, who earned a billion dollars, received many unflattering remarks and were booted by the publishers.

Here’s a list of 10 iconic books that no one wanted to print.

“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s gothic novel “Frankenstein” was rejected quite a few times before getting published in 1818. Yes, one of the most successful books ever written was rejected because the author was only 18 when she wrote it.

“Dune” by Frank Herbert

The first novel by Frank Herbert from the “Chronicles of the Dunes” saga saw the light in 1965. This book made him famous and won him the Hugo and Nebula Prizes. Even though “Dune” is considered one of the most famous science fiction novels of the XX century, it was dropped by 23 publishers for being too political and environmental.

“The Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger

Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” has sold over 65 million copies since its release in 1951. However, this does not mean that the book had a smooth start. Quite the contrary, Salinger was rejected by several publishers, including his own employers in the New Yorker.

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sometimes it takes decades for a novel to find its audience. A classic example is the Great Gatsby. The book was rejected by publishers before it was released in 1925. However, it quickly gained a reputation during World War II, selling millions of copies.

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

George Orwell was ahead of his time with the “Animal Farm.” It’s a great allegory of the 1917 revolution and subsequent events in Russia. This obvious satire on the Soviet Union was only published after the victory over Germany in August of 1945 for apparent reasons.

“Lord of the Flies” by William Golding

It took William Golding 22 tries to finally get his book published. The book that later made him a Nobel laureate and instantly became a modern classic. The novel was not immediately appreciated by readers, only selling over 3000 copies in 1954. But two years later, “Lord of the Flies” became an absolute bestseller, and in 2005 joined the list of 100 best novels in English according to Time magazine.

“Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov

The plot of the infamous novel seemed way too indecent to many American publishers. And that’s completely understandable. Nabokov tried to publish his story of a love affair between an adult man and a teenage girl for years until he finally succeeded. First, it took over France, and when it finally reached the United States, it immediately became a bestseller. 

“Carrie” by Stephen King

The publishers were not interested in science fiction and gloomy utopia. Those things don’t sell. That’s basically what the thirtieth review of Stephen King’s “Carrie” looked like. A few months later, he finally caught a break, and in the first year, sold more than a million copies! Now the story of a baited girl with telekinetic powers is considered a cult classic.

“The Chronicles of Narnia” by C. S. Lewis

One of the most famous fantasy series in the world was really struggling to find a publisher. Fortunately, after 37 failures, Lewis accidentally met with Jeffrey Bles, who helped him publish the first book about Narnia. Now the story of the magical land has been translated into 47 languages.

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by Joan Rowling

Before finally finding a publisher, J. K. Rowling was rejected 12 times. The first edition got only 1000 copies, but it was almost immediately recognized as the “best children’s book of the year” in the UK. Now Potter’s adventures are second only to the Bible in terms of sales, and the Harry Potter brand is currently worth over 15 billion dollars.