You write, you re-write, you edit, you tweak and when it's perfect, you submit. And then you get rejected. Many times, maybe by a person who didn't even read it. Rejection is painful because it instantly devalues your creation. Someone says this isn't worth publishing. Rejectees, take heart. Many now-famous writers have been rejected before they made it big.
Stephen King wrote his first novel, “Carrie,” and it was rejected 30 times. Rejections were so devastating that he threw the manuscript in the trash. “Chicken Soup for the Soul” was rejected 140 times. Margaret Mitchell's “Gone With The Wind” was rejected by 38 publishers (and she did give a damn). James Joyce's “Dubliner” was rejected 18 times and took nine years before it reached publication.
Yet, as Vince Lombardi said, “It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up.” When faced with rejection, many writers today have turned to self-publishing, an increasingly popular outlet with the rise of the e-book market.
My book, “Once We Were Brothers,” a modern day legal drama wrapped around a World War II story of the Polish occupation–was rejected several times. And yet I very much wanted to tell this story about two brothers who grew up in the same household in Zamosc, Poland but ended up on opposite sides of the war, about a family's struggle to survive the cruelties of war, about undying love, and about the ultimate betrayal–and one man's quest for justice.
Like other writers, I became impatient. I wanted to see the book in print before I died of old age. So my son and I formed our own publishing company, the Berwick Court Publishing Company, and we did it ourselves. Over the course of two years, we sold an incredible 100,000 copies (print and e combined).
Perhaps the fan base was broad enough to attract those who like to read legal thrillers as well as those with an interest in World War II. Whatever the reason, Once We Were Brothers enjoyed enough success as a self-published novel to reach the mainstream: the book was acquired by St. Martin's Press, and a new edition is coming out this fall. All in all, the book's success–either self-published or published by a mainstream house–is a testament to word of mouth and a passionate fan base.
The following slides are other bestseller success stories that started out as self-published books.
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