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JK Rowling Shares Rejection Letters To Inspire Others

No one likes to admit to failure. It can be soul destroying, but it doesn’t mean the end. And whether we like to admit it at the time or not, professional failures (or otherwise) help us grow and evolve. One rejection can spur us down a path that leads to career success and contentment. Or, as is the case of author JK Rowling, ten rejections. The writer previously admitted to being sacked from her secretarial job because she spent too much time daydreaming about a preteen wizard and what followed, in her words, was a period of “epic failure,” a marriage breakdown and being rejected by ten publishing houses before Harry Potter got noticed.

She famously kept her rejection letters and now, following a fan request, she has shared some withering rebuffs publishers sent to her alter ego Robert Galbraith, to inspire and comfort aspiring authors.

I had nothing to lose and sometimes that makes you brave enough to try.

Rowling posted the rejection letters on Twitter. They related to The Cuckoo’s Calling, her first novel as Galbraith.Under the pseudonym, she pitched her first ever book called The Cuckoo’s Calling and was told that “a writers’ group or writing course may help” her. Yes, you read that correctly. The book was eventually published in 2013 and skyrocketed to the top of multiple bestseller lists.

Rowling erased the signatures when she posted the letters online, saying her motive was “inspiration not revenge.” Rowling posted the letters to encourage other aspiring writers and those at a crossroads in their career and remind them that there is no success without failure along the way.

Rowling said she could not share the Potter rejections because they “are now in a box in my attic” before offering the Galbraith letters. The kindest and most detailed rejection came from Constable & Robinson, who – despite the advice about a writing course – included helpful tips on how to pitch to a publisher (“as on book jackets – don’t give away the ending!”). The publisher added: “I regret that we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we could not publish it with commercial success.” We suspect they regretted more than that once they realised who they had turned away.

Rowling offered many other encouraging tidbits to fans, saying that to find success, one has to be able to take a risk and a leap of faith.

Fellow author Joanne Harris chimed in to say she had so many rejections for her 1999 book Chocolat – remember the equally brilliant movie adaptation? – that she had piled them up and “made a sculpture.”

If you are striving towards your dreams and the path isn’t proving easy, take heed from these mega-successful women. Behind every great career, are great tales of failure. Your time will come. And until then, get working on a sculpture to remind you of your journey.

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