Today we're talking about 10 famous books that almost never were.
The vlog version of this post is available here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5kdCHkaY34&t=151s
1. Harry Potter and the Sourcerer's Stone was rejected 12 times, one of the responses from a publisher told JK Rowling not to quite her day job. She was finally published, and the publisher only made 500 copies and gave most of them away for free to libraries.
2. The Tales of Peter Rabbit, the famous children's books by Beatrix Potter. Beatrix wrote and illustrated the stories herself and sent an early version of them to the bedridden son of her former governess. She then tried to get the book published, but no publishers would accept it so she self-published. The book was a success and a publisher picked it up. Peter Rabbit has been in print since 1902 and has sold over 45 million copies. Potter had to self-publish.
3. The Martian by Andy Weir. This is a book that I don't think Weir really ever had the intention of publishing. He posted the book chapter by chapter on his blog, and people were really liking it so he made it all into one e-pub file they could download, but some people were having trouble downloading the file. Literally if people had not complained they couldn't donwload the file, I don't think Wier would have ever self-published on Amazon Kindle. But he did, and the book skyrocketed to Amazon's bestselling science fiction list.
4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, a philosophical work of nonfiction is often acclaimed as one of the most important books on the late 20th Century. And it was rejected by 121 publishers. It is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most publication rejections of any bestselling book.
5. Animal Farm by George Orwell, a satire on the Russian Revolution and Stalin's rise to power. British author George Orwell was trying to get this book published during WWII, while the British military was allied with the USSR. No one would publish it. It was rejected all over Britain because of concerns about being critical of the USSR while they were allied with them in a war. A really small publisher did eventually accept it, but did not actually publish Animal Farm until after the war.
6. Carrie by Stephen King.
Carrie was Stephen King's first big break, and it almost never happened. Carrie was rejected by 30 publishers and King got so discouraged he threw the manuscript in the garbage. This was the 70's so it wasn't stored on electronically anywhere. His wife Tabitha fished the manuscript out of the trash and encouraged her husband to keep sending it around. Now an image of a girl in a prom dress covered in pig's blood is a part of popular culture. It is weird to think about books like this that are so ingrained in popular culture are almost not existing. To think about Harry Potter never existing, never having a shot a publication, is weird. To think about Stephen King, one of the most prolific horror writers, giving up on his writing career before it began if his wife hadn't encouraged him to keep submitting Carrie, it's weird to think about.
7. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle. This was one of my very favorite children's series when I was growing up. L'Engle received 26 rejections before finally getting published. A Wrinkle in Time went on to win a Newberry Medal the following year.
8. Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Voictor Hansen.
This multimillion dollor series was rejected 140 times by publishers. The authors were told anthologies don't sell and their books were too positive.
9. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times and then it went on to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1937
10. And last but not least...
The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer. The Joy of Cooking is probably the most famous cookbook I can think of. In 1931, the author spent a good chunk of her own life savings to print copies of her own cookbook. It took five years before her investment paid off and a publisher picked up the book. The Joy of Cooking has sold over 18 million copies.
So those are my picks for 10 famous books that were almost never published. Let me know down below if there are any others you're thinking!