20 Bestselling Books That Were Rejected By Publishers Before They Became Classics

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Image: via Bustle / Bruno of Hollywood
Image: via Bustle / Bruno of Hollywood

18. Valley of the Dolls (by Jacqueline Susann)

The 1963 adult-centric novel Valley of the Dolls reached great heights due to the unwavering promotional methods of its writer, Jacqueline Susann. And Susann had to be persistent because publishers turned down the book in their droves. But it wasn’t just the publishers that had it in for the book either: critics hated it, too. In fact, criticisms leveled at the classic included scathing remarks like “painfully dull” and “thoroughly amateurish.” But despite all of this, the novel has since gone on to become one of the best selling books ever published.

Image: via CoverBrowser / via NYTimes
Image: via CoverBrowser / via NYTimes

17. The Ginger Man (by J.P. Donleavy)

Despite being lauded as one of the greatest novels of all time by the Modern Library, with sales totaling 45 million copies worldwide, J.P. Donleavy’s The Ginger Man was rejected a whopping 35 times by publishers. Labeled as too obscene, the novel eventually wound up being published by Olympia Press as part of their pornography series. And what followed was a plethora of lengthy legal battles, with the book banned in both Ireland and the U.S.

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Image: Imgur / via RealitySandwich
Image: imgur / via RealitySandwich

16. Dune (by Frank Herbert)

Though it remains one of the most truly groundbreaking science fiction novels ever made, the much heralded Dune wasn’t nearly as loved by publishers first time around. Its story of a war being waged on a fictional planet fell on deaf ears 23 times, before finally seeing the light of day through Chilton Books in 1965. And author Frank Herbert consequently changed the sci-fi landscape in one fell swoop.

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