Anyone who has ever wanted to work in a creative field, be it writing, painting or playing music has been told they’d better develop thick skin. After all, it doesn’t matter how good you are, someone will always be there to tear you down. It’s hard to think of a better example of this than to look at some rejected books that would later become some of the best-selling titles in the world. From the Twilight saga to Anne Frank’s Diary, the success of these books shows that even people paid to evaluate the commercial potential of a work of art sometimes underestimate the most valuable titles.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita is one of the best-selling novels of all time, with over 50 million copies sold since its debut in 1955. When Nabokov was shopping the title around though, he had a hard time finding anyone willing to publish it because so many publishers were worried about getting tried for obscenity as soon as they touched it.
One rejection letter even went so far as to inform the author, “It is overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian. To the public, it will be revolting. It will not sell, and will do immeasurable harm to a growing reputation… I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” Ahem.