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If writing’s got you down, remember that James Patterson’s first book was rejected 31 times.

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March 10, 2021, 12:04pm

Unless you’re a disgraced politician, trying to get a book published can be difficult, nerve-wracking, soul-denting work. If you’re anything like me, though, it really helps to hear that rejection is the rule in the publishing industry, rather than the exception. When my novel was out on submission, I may or may not have googled several variations of the following: book rejected all publishers what happens? (I also may or may not have bookmarked this list of most-rejected books of all time.)

But if you’re grappling with rejection, or the fear of rejection, or the fear of starting something for fear that someone might reject it, take heart: the highest-paid author in the world has been there. James Patterson, who has sold 425 million books worldwide, had his first one rejected by 31 publishers.

His books weren’t instant hits, either—he didn’t have a best-seller until he was 40, despite publishing his first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number (the much-rejected one), at 26.

“I also don’t take myself too seriously,” he told CNBC Make It. “Yeah, I sell a lot of books, so what?”

So there you have it: don’t let rejection get you down, don’t take yourself too seriously, don’t pay too much attention to lists of authors under 35, and maybe you’ll find enormous financial success from your writing. Okay, probably not—but it’s all still good advice.

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