Top 10 Bestsellers that Almost Didn’t Get Published

Script written by Diandra D'Alessio Top 10 Beloved Books that Almost Didn’t Get Published Subscribe: ‪‬‬‬‬‬ These classic books almost didn’t get published! Thanks to publishing houses that took a chance on the authors, we’re fortunate to have them. Carrie, Dune, A Wrinkle in Time, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Animal Farm, A Confederacy of Dunces, Gone with the Wind, The Diary of a Young Girl, Harry Potter are all books we’re glad exist today. MsMojo's Social Media: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Snapchat:

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Top 10 Beloved Books That Almost Didn’t Get Published

These are the classic reads that almost weren’t. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Beloved Books That Almost Didn’t Get Published.

For this list, we’re looking at successful novels that faced a series of rejections or obstacles before getting published, and placing special attention on those books that have stood the test of time.

#10: “Carrie” (1974)
Stephen King

This horror story about a bullied girl with telekinesis is one of King’s best-known works, but it almost never hit the shelves. It was originally supposed to be a short story, but King threw the first three pages in the trash. His wife Tabitha convinced him to finish it as a novel, however. Her quick thinking proved to be the struggling author’s big break. Despite reportedly receiving thirty rejections, the paperback went on to sell 1 million copies in its first year, later spawning four movies, a musical, and a play. King continues to write bestsellers, but never forgot Tabitha’s support. To quote “Carrie”’s dedication note: “This is for Tabby, who got me into it – and then bailed me out of it.”

#9: “Dune” (1965)
Frank Herbert

This seminal science fiction novel set in a feudal universe has been named the best-selling novel of its genre, but it faced a rocky road to publication. Herbert was inspired to write “Dune” out of his concern for the environment, and first published it as two shorter stories in Analog magazine in the early sixties. The novel version was rejected over twenty times before Chilton Books, then mostly a publisher of auto manuals, finally gave it a chance. “Dune” won the Hugo Award in 1966, and inspired five sequels, a cult film, songs, and even names for features of Saturn’s moon Titan. “Dune” is an influential work of science fiction, and remains a pop culture fixture five decades later.

#8: “A Wrinkle in Time” (1962)
Madeleine L’Engle

Now a beloved children’s book, this science fantasy tale about a girl looking for her missing father was rejected dozens of times before getting published. According to L’Engle, it was turned down for being “too different.” She also thought it was rejected for having a female protagonist, which was rare for the genre. But a tea party one Christmas changed everything. A guest referred her to John C. Farrar of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. FSG didn’t publish children’s books then, but Farrar liked the story and had it published. The book has won many awards since, and a Disney adaptation is in the works as of 2016. More than half a century later, “A Wrinkle in Time” continues to inspire children everywhere.

#7: “Chicken Soup for the Soul” (1993)
Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen

This first installment of the famous non-fiction series has inspired millions of readers around the world – and it has an inspiring backstory to match. The anthology was reportedly rejected almost 150 times for being “too positive,” and because there was no sex or violence. New York publishers wanted nothing to do with the book, but a Florida-based publisher of self-help books, HCI, finally gave it the green light. Now under its own publishing company, the “Chicken Soup” series has over 250 titles in 43 languages. It’s also the world’s bestselling non-fiction series, with over 500 million copies sold as of 2016. Whether it’s the book or the actual food, Chicken Soup will warm your heart.

#6: “Animal Farm” (1945)
George Orwell

This classic allegory of Stalinist Russia is Orwell’s second-bestselling book after “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” and a high school staple. While Orwell was already known for being a writer and journalist, British publishers initially turned the book down. They weren’t worried about Orwell himself, but more so about the complicated political climate. Stalin was a ruthless dictator, but the Soviet Union and the U.K. were wartime allies. As a result, many publishers shunned anti-communist works altogether. But by August 1945, the war in Europe was essentially over, and “Animal Farm” was finally published. It has led to dozens of adaptations and cultural references, and made the list of Time magazine’s 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. Now that’s something to squeal about!

#5: “A Confederacy of Dunces” (1980)
John Kennedy Toole

This Southern Gothic satire set in New Orleans is a cult favorite, but its author never got to see its success. Devastated by his book’s constant rejection and suffering from paranoia and depression, 31-year-old Toole took his own life in 1969. Thanks to his mother Thelma, “Dunces” saw the light of day. She found a carbon copy of the manuscript in his old room, and was determined to publish it. She eventually caught the attention of Louisiana author and professor Walker Percy. He loved “Dunces,” and helped to get it published in 1980... 11 years after Toole died. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981, and was adapted into a play by Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company in 2015. Toole didn’t know it, but he created an American masterpiece.

#4: “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1960)
Harper Lee

This novel about racism in the 1930s Deep South is now considered among the best in American literature. Surprisingly, Lee almost destroyed it before it was even finished. In the late fifties, she was reworking her manuscript with editor Tay Hohoff, but was unhappy with her progress. Lee threw her pages in the snow, only to call Hohoff, who convinced her to take them back and complete the novel. The book was an instant bestseller, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. That’s not to mention the Oscar-winning film, starring Gregory Peck as heroic lawyer Atticus Finch. Whether you’re reading the book or watching the movie, this timeless tale is poignant, uplifting, and incredibly important.

#3: “The Diary of a Young Girl” [aka “The Diary of Anne Frank”] (1947)
Anne Frank

This Jewish teenager’s diary exposed the world to the horrors of the Holocaust from the eyes of a young adult. If it weren’t for Miep Gies, a Dutch woman who helped hide the Franks, it might’ve been lost forever. She found the manuscript after the family was arrested, and gave it to Anne’s father Otto after the war. After about reportedly 16 or so rejections, an Otto-approved version was published in 1947. In the nineties, readers got the unabridged version, known as “Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, which included parts where Anne explores her sexuality. The diary has been adapted for TV, film, and theater, and is available in over 60 languages as of 2015. Anne’s diary not only bears witness to evil, it also introduces us to a brave, precocious mind cut tragically short.

#2: “Gone with the Wind” (1936)
Margaret Mitchell

With such a lasting presence in pop culture, it’s hard to believe that this Civil War romance novel was apparently turned down close to forty times. Mitchell started writing the book in 1926, while recovering from an injured ankle. Nine years later, Macmillan agreed to publish it. After months of fact checking and editing, it hit the shelves in June 1936. It sold almost 1 million copies in the first six months, and won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Even more successful is the 1939 blockbuster, starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. It won eight competitive Oscars and is the highest grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation. When it comes to this book, frankly, we do give a damn!

Before we get to our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:

“Lolita” (1955)
Vladimir Nabokov

“Jonathan Livingston Seagull” (1970)
Richard Bach

“Moby-Dick; or, The Whale” (1851)
Herman Melville

#1: “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (1997)
J. K. Rowling

This is the first installment of the bestselling book series of all time, and its backstory is a testament to perseverance. In the over five years that Rowling wrote the book, she lost her mother, became a single parent, battled depression, and lived on state benefits. She felt like a failure, but despite the manuscript’s many rejections, Bloomsbury accepted it in 1997. As of 2015, the Harry Potter books have sold over 450 million copies, and the movies make up the second highest grossing film series in history, not counting for inflation. In 2004, Forbes magazine also named Rowling the first billionaire author. Rowling is among the most esteemed writers and philanthropists of our time, and it all began with the boy who lived.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite book that just barely hit the shelves? For more inspirational Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.

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