John Grisham’s Rejections

Based on this interview several years ago, it seems John Grisham received at least 24 rejections before someone took an interest in his book A Time to Kill. Persistence is a virtue for writers.

”I sat down with my secretary and we made up two lists,” he said. “One contained the names and addresses of 30 publishing house editors; the other, 30 names and addresses of literary agents. Having already put together a package containing a query letter, book summary, and the first three chapters, I had the secretary make 10 copies of each. She was to send a copy of each to the first five editors on the first list and the same to the first five agents on the second.

“When a rejection came back with the material we had sent, she simply crossed that name off the list and immediately sent the package with a new query letter to the next one on the list. This way, we always had some going out as others were coming back. The rejection letters were filed and I would read them when I went to the office each weekend.” The first dozen publishing companies and about the same number of agents all sent their regrets. Through it all, though, Grisham said he never got depressed. “I never thought of quitting. My attitude was: ‘What the heck, let’s have some fun.’ Honestly, I believe I would’ve sent it to several hundred people before I would have even thought of giving up.” Good news came one week in April when three agents called.


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