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Authors and Books Rejected By Publishers

Pearl S. Buck - The Good Earth - 14 times
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead - 12 times
Patrick Dennis- Auntie Mame - 15 times
George Orwell - Animal Farm
Richard Bach - Jonathan Livingston Seagull - 20 times
Joseph Heller - Catch-22 - 22 times (!)
Mary Higgins Clark - first short story - 40 times
Alex Haley - before Roots - 200 rejections
Robert Persig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - 121 times
John Grisham - A Time to Kill - 15 publishers and 30 agents (he ended up publishing it himself)
Chicken Soup for the Soul - 33 times
Dr. Seuss - 24 times
Louis L'Amour - 200 rejections
Jack London - 600 before his first story
John Creasy - 774 rejections before selling his first story. He went on to write 564 books, using fourteen names.
Jerzy Kosinski - 13 agents and 14 publishers rejected his best-selling novel when he submitted it under a different name, including Random House, which had originally published it.
Stephen King's first four novels were rejected. This guy from Maine sent in this novel over the transom,said Bill Thompson, his former editor at Doubleday. Mr. Thompson, sensing something there, asked to see subsequent novels, but still rejected the next three. However, King withstood the rejection, and Mr. Thompson finally bought the fifth novel, despite his colleague's lack of enthusiasm, for $2,500. It was called Carrie.
During his entire lifetime, Herman Melville's timeless classic, Moby Dick, sold only 3,715 copies.

Famous Self-Published Books:

Remembrance of things Past, by Marcel Proust,
Ulysses, by James Joyce,
The Adventures of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter,
A Time to Kill, by John Grisham,
The Wealthy Barber, by David Chilton,
The Bridges of Madison County,
What Color is Your Parachute,
In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters,
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield,
The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. (and his student E. B. White),
The Joy of Cooking,
When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple,
Life's Little Instruction Book
Robert's Rules of Order

Other Famous Authors who Self-Published:

D. H. Lawrence, Deepak Chopra, Gertrude Stein, Zane Grey,
Upton Sinclair, Carl Sandburg, Ezra Pound, Mark Twain,
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Stephen Crane, Bernard Shaw,
Anais Nin, Thomas Paine, Virginia Wolff, e.e. Cummings,
Edgar Allen Poe, Rudyard Kipling, Henry David Thoreau,
Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Alexandre Dumas,
William E.B. DuBois, Beatrix Potter.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Publishing traditionally had been an industry of numerous, small, family-owned firms. After the 1960s, however, publishing houses were regularly purchased by and consolidated with other companies. For example, Rinehart & Company and the John C. Winston Company were purchased by Henry Holt & Company to form Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc. In addition, publishing firms were being taken over by conglomerates, e.g., Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc., was purchased by the Columbia Broadcasting System; in 1986, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (now Harcourt, Inc.) bought the educational and publishing division of CBS Inc., which included Holt, Rinehart & Winston; Henry Holt & Company was then sold to the Holtzbrinck group of Germany (Holtzbrink now also owns St. Martin's). Time Warner, the world's largest entertainment and media company, owns Little, Brown & Co., Warner Books, Time Life Books, Book of the Month Club, and many popular magazines.

Some publishing houses became part of larger corporations in other countries. Rupert Murdoch's Australia-based News Corporation acquired HarperCollins (formerly Harper & Row), William Morrow, and Avon, plus many other American, Australian, and British publications as well as television and radio stations. Doubleday, along with its houses Delacorte and Dell, was bought by the German firm Bertelsmann and merged with Bantam; when Bertelsmann later (1998) acquired Random House, it became the largest U.S. trade publisher. Robert Maxwell of England bought Macmillan, the New York Daily News, and many other publishing enterprises. Maxwell's empire collapsed in the early 1990s, and Macmillan was eventually acquired by Viacom, which already owned Simon & Schuster. Viacom (which also owned Prentice Hall, Scribner, and other companies) later (1998) sold many of these publishing operations to the Pearson Group of England. Pearson's holdings now include Allyn & Bacon, Appleton & Lange, Macmillan, Penguin Putnam, Prentice Hall, Silver Burdett Ginn, and Simon & Schuster. The consolidations and sales of publishing houses continues each year.

In descending order of number of new titles per year, as of the latest year available:

1. United Kingdom (2005) 206,000
2. United States (2005) 172,000
3. China (2007) 136,226
4. Russian Federation (2008) 123,336
5. Germany (2007) 96,000
6. Spain (2008) 86,300
7. Iran (2006) 54,000
8. Japan (1996) 45,430
9. Taiwan (2007) 42,018
10. Italy (1996) 35,236
11. France (1996) 34,766
12. Netherlands (1993) 34,067
13. Turkey (2009) 31,414,
14. South Korea (1996) 30,487
15. Brazil (1994) 21,574
16. Mexico (2007) 20,300
17. Canada (1996) 19,900
18. Switzerland (1996) 15,371
19. Poland (1996) 14,104
20. Belgium (1991) 13,913
21. Sweden (1996) 13,496
22. Finland (1996) 13,104
23. Belarus (2009) 12,885
24. Denmark (1996) 12,352
25. India (1996) 11,903
26. Australia (1994) 10,835
27. Czech Republic (1996) 10,244
28. Argentina (1996) 9,850
29. Hungary (1996) 9,193
30. Thailand (1996) 8,142
31. Austria (1996) 8,056
32. Portugal (1996) 7,868
33. Romania (1996) 7,199
34. Israel (2006) 6,866
35. Greece (2002) 6,826
36. Ukraine (1995) 6,225
37. South Africa (1995) 5,418
38. Saudi Arabia (1996) 3900
39. Lebanon (2005) 3,686
40. Venezuela (1996) 3,468
41. Afghanistan (1990) 2,795
42. Chile (1995) 2,469
43. Egypt (1995) 2,215
44. Latvia (1996) 1,965
45. Syria (2000) 1,800
46. Iceland (2007) 1,533
47. Morocco (1996) 918
48. Tunisia (1996) 720
49. Algeria (1996) 670
50. Jordan(1996) 511
51. Kyrgyzstan (1998) 420
52. Malta (1995) 404
53. Fiji (1994) 401
54. Albania (1991) 381
55. Kenya (1994) 300
56. United Arab Emirates (1993) 293
57. Ethiopia (1991) 240
58. Zimbabwe (1992) 232
59. Vatican City (1996) 228
60. Qatar (1996) 209
61. Kuwait (1992) 196
62. Tanzania (1990) 172
63. Botswana (1991) 158
64. Paraguay (1993) 152
65. Tajikistan (1996) 132
66. Papua New Guinea (1991) 122
67. Madagascar (1996) 119
68. Malawi (1996) 117
69. Palestine (1996) 114
70. Namibia (1990) 106
71. Eritrea (1993) 106
72. Laos (1995) 88
73. Benin (1994) 84
74. Mauritius (1996) 80
75. Réunion (1992) 69
76. Democratic Republic of the Congo (1992) 64
77. Andorra (1994) 57
78. Suriname (1996) 47
79. Brunei Darussalam (1992) 45
80. Guyana (1996) 42
81. Monaco (1990) 41
82. Bahrain (1996) 40
83. Ghana (1992) 28
84. Libya (1994) 26
85. Angola (1990) 22
86. Mali (1995) 14
87. Burkina Faso (1996) 12
88. Ecuador (1995) 12
89. Oman (1996) 7
90. Nigeria (1991) 5
UNESCO Institute of Statistics,

What Traditional Authors Earn:
Although every writer can negotiate with a publisher, typical royalties for an unknown author might be:

Hardcover royalties of 10% on the first 5000 units sold; 12 ½% on the next 5000 units and 15% thereafter. (Hardcover figures are rarely different, even for authors who sell well.) Trade paperback royalties are 7 ½%. Mass market royalties are for 8% for the first 150,000 units sold and 10% thereafter.

First printings for the unknown author lucky enough to get hardbound are typically 5,000 units. Say it sells for $25 (because we sure like our round numbers) and it sells through--all 5,000 copies sell.

$25 x 10% = $2.50 per book in royalties
$2.50 x 5,000 = $12,500--not much considering that it probably took a year to research and write the book, and quite possibly longer. A full time minimum-wage job would earn the author more money.

More often, the unknown author gets trade paperback. They're usually about $15.00

$15 x 7 ½% = $1.12 per book in royalties--not even half what the hardbound earns.
$1.12 x 5,000 = $5,600

Or maybe the unknown author goes straight to mass market paperback. They're often about $8.00

$8 x 8% = 64 cents per book in royalties
$0.64 x 5,000 = $3,200

Of course, if you happen to write the huge novel of the moment, maybe you sell a half million copies instead.

Of maybe you only sell 2500.

I know several authors online and a handful in meatspace, and only three derive all their income from their fiction. Most either keep their day jobs or have another source of income, like a working spouse or savings.

Which authors are earning the most money? JK Rowlings at 300 Million
It and the six subsequent books have now sold 375 million copies worldwide. The final one, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, has sold 44 million since it was published last July, including 15 million in the first 24 hours.
*note: based on these numbers, even she is earning less than $1.00 per book, net income and the 300 Million does not include agents fees, attorney fees, etc..

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