Skip to main content

Kathryn Stockett's "The Help" Turned Down 60 Times Before Becoming a Bestseller

That's right.  Sixty times.  Five years of writing.  Three and a half years to find an agent.  She.  Never.  Gave.  Up.

I opened my 40th rejection: “There is no market for this kind of tiring writing.” That one finally made me cry. “You have so much resolve, Kathryn,” a friend said to me. “How do you keep yourself from feeling like this has been just a huge waste of your time?” That was a hard weekend. I spent it in pajamas, slothing around that racetrack of self-pity—you know the one, from sofa to chair to bed to refrigerator, starting over again on the sofa. But I couldn’t let go of The Help. Call it tenacity, call it resolve or call it what my husband calls it: stubbornness.

Read more at More.


This is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

I absolutely *loved* THE HELP!
Barbara Sissel said…
Oh, I loved this book, The Help and I didn't know this about her journey! I can so identify with it. Thank you for sharing this, Mylène. I'm not crazy for keeping on, I'm stubborn!
Arg! Blogger keeps eating my responses! I've now written TWO lengthy responses to this and they were both "eaten," so suffice it to say YES. I really do believe there are books that take hold of us and just HAVE to come out. That's the way I feel about mine--that I am the steward of the story, the bearer of the fire. Hmmm. Maybe I'll just make a post out of it--and then hopefully Blogger won't eat it! ;)
Of course now that I COPIED the comment before sending, it worked. ;)
Ironically, just today Nathan Bransford has the other side of the story. I think both are good for writers.
Mylène said…
Stockett's post does make me wonder, though, about good books that have never seen the light of day . . . because the writer didn't hold out past the sixtieth rejection.
Mylène said…
Kathryn, re Nathan, I have manuscripts in drawers that will never see the light of day, and don't deserve to. The trick lies in knowing what is good enough to fight for. I have no formula for this. Only feel it in my gut.
I completely agree that it has to be an instinctive thing, Mylene. The interesting thing is that I see student writing all the time that really could be amazing, if the student just did the hard work of revision. It always shocks me when the students who seem to be the first out of the gate and have the most natural talent are the ones who give up first, almost as if they are undone by their own genius. More times than not, it's the quiet one in the corner, the one whose work was only so-so and wasn't very well received in workshop--that's usually the writer who keeps going, I've noticed. I have seen it with my peers at UH and I've seen it in my own classes, so many times I think there must be something quantifiable going on. Whether those writers ultimately succeed is another subject/post entirely, but it always strikes me as interesting which ones keep going and which stop after the slightest challenge.
Makes me think of this Noel Coward quote:

"Thousands of people have talent. I might as well congratulate you for having eyes in your head. The one and only thing that counts is: Do you have staying power?"
Unknown said…
I understand that the popularity of this book is due to word of mouth. Although I purchased it because of a book review, you can be sure that this mouth is about to spread its wonders far and wide. I can't wait to see what Kathryn Stockett comes up with next. She's got a fan for life.
Raleigh HOA Management

Popular posts from this blog

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button": Did you love it or hate it?

Earlier this week, Colleen and I went to see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", the extraordinary movie based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I loved it. Colleen not s'much. (I was sitting there choked in tears at the end of the three hour film, so I only vaguely remember her saying something about "watching paint dry.") I want to see it again, so I'm trying to get the Gare Bear to go with me this weekend, but I won't be surprised if he reacts the same way Colleen did. The movie is long. And odd. It requires patience and a complete suspension of disbelief that modern audiences simply aren't trained for, so you've got to be in the right mood for it. The same is true of the short story, though the story and script have very little in common -- at least superficially. The story is very Fitzgerald (though it's not an example of his best writing, IMHO), and the setting -- Baltimore during the industrial revolution, Spanish Americ

APATHY AND OTHER SMALL VICTORIES by Paul Neilan is only good if you enjoy things like laughter

The only thing Shane cares about is leaving. Usually on a Greyhound bus, right before his life falls apart again. Just like he planned. But this time it's complicated: there's a sadistic corporate climber who thinks she's his girlfriend, a rent-subsidized affair with his landlord's wife, and the bizarrely appealing deaf assistant to Shane's cosmically unstable dentist. When one of the women is murdered, and Shane is the only suspect who doesn't care enough to act like he didn't do it, the question becomes just how he'll clear the good name he never had and doesn't particularly want: his own.