You know that story you’ve been submitting to book publishers for years, the one about the magical werewolves that team up with a cavalcade of hobgoblins (“murder” is to crows as “cavalcade” is to hobgoblins) to take down the evil swamp things? It’s saved on your laptop as “I’ve wasted my life on this stupid thing.doc”? Well, keep submitting. That’s what J.K. Rowling did, and now she’s best friends with Chamillionaire. The manuscript for the author’s first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was famously rejected by 12 publishers before Bloomsbury decided to publish the book. It went on to sell 107 million copies, and over 400 million for the entire series.
When a Harry Potter fan tweeted, “Not getting down… because this WILL happen. This is just the beginning. @jk_rowling got rejected, I will too,” Rowling replied, “I pinned my 1st rejection letter to my kitchen wall because it gave me something in common with all my fave writers!” She later added, after another Twitter follower asked what kept her motivated, “I wasn’t going to give up until every single publisher turned me down, but I often feared that would happen.” Rowling then shared two of her rejection letters.
These rejections have nothing to do with Harry Potter — they’re for the 2013 novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, which Rowling wrote under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. “There was a phenomenal amount of pressure that went with being the writer of Harry Potter,” she explained to NPR, “and that aspect of publishing those books I do not particularly miss. So, you can probably understand the appeal of going away and creating something very different, and just letting it stand or fall on its own merits.”
Even the author of one of the best-selling books ever occasionally strikes out. There’s hope for your werewolf-hobgoblin-swamp thing epic yet.