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A Slytherin’ Successsssss September 29, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Writing & Writers.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Despite his eventual fame, Harry Potter did not find a publisher straight out of the gate.

Imagine if J.K. Rowling had given up on the idea when she received rejection after rejection:

* The world would never have met Dumbledore or Dobby the House Elf.

* Or wandered the corridors of Hogwarts or Diagon Alley.

* And none of us would know how to play Quidditch.

Rowling kept pitching her story until she found a publisher who saw in her stories what readers did ~ a spellbinding read.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. ~ Jules Renard


1. valleygrail - September 29, 2014

I agree, and am so grateful she did not give up. I read the complete set, first to last, as though it was one big book. My favorite all time reading experience.

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

A friend with four boys told me about the series circa 2000. Then my oldest nephews started talking about it. Then my nieces. So I sat down to read H.P. and the Philosopher’s Stone, fully expecting to begin and end the series with Vol. 1.

Wrong! Like you, I loved it ~ the characters, the setting, the shifting stairs, the invisibility cloak, the spells, the potions, the talking portraits, etc.. I continued through all the books and, eventually, all the movies, enjoying each.

It is not surprising that it is one of the best selling book series in history. And the highest grossing film series of all time.

valleygrail - September 29, 2014

Yes! And I have not had as much fun reading a series since then. Wonderful books!

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

Almost as much fun as laughing at a Tea Party on the ceiling while Mary Poppins pours. 😆

2. Jill Weatherholt - September 29, 2014

The closer we get to our goal things often become more difficult…keep pressing on!
I love the Renard quote, Nancy! 🙂

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

Yes ~ it’s often darkest just before dawn. That Renard quote is one of my favorite writer quotes.

3. L. Marie - September 29, 2014

I’m also glad she didn’t give up. And I’ll bet the publishers who rejected her series are kicking themselves now.

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

I know, right?! Those publishers are banging their heads against the top of the slush pile, chanting, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid.” :mrgreen:

4. Silver in the Barn - September 29, 2014

Will you still like me if I confess I’ve never read a Harry Potter book? I’m sure when I finally do, I’ll be kicking myself for being so late to the party. Do you know the story behind the publication of Pulitzer-winning “A Confederacy of Dunces?” After the author committed suicide, his mother relentlessly pushed to get the manuscript published, quite literally for years! Imagine the devotion.

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

I still like you (but you dropped 2.37 notches in my esteem). Of course, I didn’t know that about A Confederacy of Dunces. That nugget raised you 2.37 notches. So we are back on even keel.

Good ole mom!

The book would never have been published if Toole’s mother had not found a smeared carbon copy of the manuscript left in the house following Toole’s 1969 suicide at age 31. Thelma Toole was persistent and tried several different publishers to no avail.

Thelma repeatedly called Walker Percy, an author and college instructor at Loyola University New Orleans, demanding he read it. He initially resisted; however, as he recounts in the book’s foreword:

“…the lady was persistent, and it somehow came to pass that she stood in my office handing me the hefty manuscript. There was no getting out of it; only one hope remained—that I could read a few pages and that they would be bad enough for me, in good conscience, to read no farther. Usually I can do just that. Indeed the first paragraph often suffices. My only fear was that this one might not be bad enough, or might be just good enough, so that I would have to keep reading.

In this case I read on. And on. First with the sinking feeling that it was not bad enough to quit, then with a prickle of interest, then a growing excitement, and finally an incredulity: surely it was not possible that it was so good.”

Silver in the Barn - September 29, 2014

Ahhhhh! That’s better!!!! Love that you looked this, Nancy, and that we are back on an even keel. Totally made my morning!!!

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

Yay! The feeling that Walker Percy had on reading the Dunces’ manuscript is much the way I felt about Harry Potter:

I expected NOT to like it. I planned to read just far enough that I could say, in good conscience, that I gave it a shot. Instead, I kept reading with a prickle of interest and growing excitement. I was hooked!

5. Pix Under the Oaks - September 29, 2014

I haven’t ever read Harry Potter or seen any of the movies but CH has seen all the movies. I have seen Dobby on TV a couple of times.. 🙂

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

I didn’t expect to enjoy Harry Potter ~> I loved the Philosopher’s Stone from Hogwarts to Gringott’s, from Hagrid to Aunt Petunia.

So glad J.K. Rowling persisted in the face of rejection.

6. katecrimmins - September 29, 2014

I’ve seen some of the movies but although well done, it’s not my area of interest. However, the point to persevere is well taken. Too many times people ask and get a no. Then they say, “Ok” and go back to their mundane life. I would have loved to see the reaction of the rejecters when they sat through the first movie!

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

As is often the case, I enjoyed the books more than the movies. That said, I enjoyed them in juxtaposition ~ because I loved SEEING a game of Quiditch being played, and stairways shifting, and talking portraits, and potions class.

I am glad that I am not the reader who encouraged a publisher to reject her query.

katecrimmins - September 29, 2014

Off with his head….

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

Yes! It was no doubt a “career limiting” move.

7. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - September 29, 2014

She is a great inspiration and example of why not to give up on our dreams!

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

Agreed! Here’s to putting on our Sorting Hat and getting ourselves pointed in the right direction.

8. NancyTex - September 29, 2014

I just love her story. And by ‘her story’ I don’t mean the books (which I also love, by the way). A real reminder that anything is possible, even in the bleakest of circumstances.

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

Yes! Her story is a true rags to riches tale ~ from welfare rolls to Millionaire’s Row.

And I adore her imagination.

NancyTex - September 29, 2014


9. Becky - September 29, 2014

I fell in love with the Harry Potter books pretty early on. So well written and children’s books at that! My MIL thought they were ‘too imaginative’ and thought they should be banned until her grandchildren became hooked on them. Suddenly, she changed her mind!
Probably like those early publishers.

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

Once I started reading them, I raced through them . . . and then tapped my fingers on the table waiting for the remaining volumes and movies to arrive.

10. colonialist - September 29, 2014

She knew it had something, and simply had to persist until she ran out of dunces and came across someone bright enough to agree with her!

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

Exactly right! You, sir, are No Dunce!

colonialist - September 29, 2014

*removes and throws away pointy hat* Glad to hear it!

11. ericjbaker - September 29, 2014

You have little to lose by persisting and everything to lose by quitting.

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

Keep on keeping on.

Behind the Story - September 30, 2014

I haven’t read Harry Potter, but several years ago my grandson advised me to catch up on several of the movies so I could watch the new one that came out that summer with him when he visited. I had a bit of a Harry Potter overload that year.

I’m so glad to hear that no one considers me ridiculous.

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Not at all. I didn’t plan to enjoy the books/movies when I started reading The Philosopher’s Stone, but I loved it from first to last . . . and agreed with most of her creative twists and turns. All but one. Dumbledore should have been left alive.

12. jannatwrites - September 29, 2014

I’m glad she believed in her work enough to persevere. While I haven’t read the books/seen the movies, I don’t live in a cave and I’ve seen the enthusiasm from her many fans!

nrhatch - September 29, 2014

Enthusiasm is right! The last couple books in the series sold something like 11 million copies in the first 24 hours.

13. Three Well Beings - September 30, 2014

The whole story behind JK Rowlings success is such a wonderful example of taking risk, sticking to a dream and not giving up. I may be one of the only people you know who has never read a Harry Potter book. But I can still admire the author. Maybe when I retire I’ll devote a year to reading the all! 🙂

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Judging from the comment thread, you are in good company. But those who have read the series have all enjoyed it. It’s a good read.

14. Shel Harrington - September 30, 2014

And wasn’t it like a crazy number of rejections? If I didn’t keep hearing stories like this, where persistence trumps even talent sometimes, I’d be much less likely to keep soldiering on!

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Patience and persistence go a long way in getting us where we want to be in life. But talent helps. 😛

15. diannegray - September 30, 2014

I love it when I read posts like this, Nancy. It gives everyone who has ever been rejected the hope of ‘one day’… 😀

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

This afternoon, I went to an author presentation by Echo Hero who was once on the NY Times Bestseller List at spot #5 for a book about nursing called Intensive Care.

She submitted a story to Reader’s Digest.
The head editor loved it and assigned her an in house editor for other stories.
A top agent contacted her and asked her to write a book ~> Intensive Care.
It sold to Random House in mere days.
She was asked to appear on the Today Show, Oprah, etc.
It hit the NY Times Bestseller List.

But 20 years later, when she wrote Noon At Tiffany’s (out of her niche), she couldn’t find a publisher and had to self-publish.

And Oprah won’t return her calls. 😛

diannegray - September 30, 2014

Good grief! How things can dramatically change for people! Self publishing is the way to go these days. I’ve been published by a few big houses, but didn’t see the money so decided to go it alone. Best decision I ever made 😀

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

That’s great to hear. Echo is glad that she reclaimed her freedom to write what feels right to her, rather than hanging about in her “niche.”

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