After receiving your third, fifth, or twentieth rejection letter, it may be difficult to keep up morale and still consider yourself a writer. Looking at the success of an author like Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) may cause you to feel slightly jealous, or to froth at the mouth in rage. Either way, it may be nice to know that even for Handler, the road to success was paved with rejection letters.
After graduating from Wesleyan University, Handler wrote a book. Then, he threw it away. He did not even submit it for publication; it did not make it to editors who could reject it. This is where Handler’s comedic advice to “steal paper from work” comes from, because he believes everyone has to at least write one book and throw it away before they get to the good writing.
Once Handler had thrown out his first attempt, he wrote The Basic Eight. It is written as the diary of Flannery Culp, who is in prison for the murder of a teacher and a fellow high school student. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Handler enlightened us as to the success of his book, “After it received 37 rejections, it was purchased for the lowest amount of money my literary agent had ever negotiated for a work of fiction.” In fact, his book was rejected so many times that he began hosting a reading series called, “Great Writers Who Can’t Get Published.” But then, in 1999, The Basic Eight was finally published and was followed shortly after by Watch Your Mouth in 2000.
Handler went on to assume the role of Lemony Snicket, write the best selling books A Series of Unfortunate Events, and achieve literary fame and fortune. So even if you have had the misfortune of receiving thirty six rejection letters, it could be worse, and success is still possible.