Perseverance from Potter…Beatrix Potter!

Some of you guys who’ve followed my blog already know my specific story about perseverance when it came to finding an agent and publisher for The Elected Series.  I started querying not really knowing the industry or how to write a good query letter.  Halfway through my year of querying, I joined SCBWI and got more professional about my approach.  But in that period, I queried 82 agents.  Thus, I saw a lot of rejections or almost-signings that didn’t end up happening.  But…I kept persevering and honing skills.  And in the end it paid off.  I’m also one of those people who wrote a first book, queried it, didn’t get any interest, put it aside, and wrote another (which turned out to be ELECTED).

I love reading about authors who’ve also persevered against rejections.  I just finished reading a short biography and journal of Beatrix Potter.  It included her report card where her tutor said she didn’t have any aptitude for math but she could draw great pictures and was very good at the natural sciences.  (haha…her drawings of animals make perfect sense now!)  Did you know that Beatrix Potter was rejected by so many publishers, she decided to self-print 250 copies of Peter Rabbit just for her friends?  It was sold in a few bookstores, and through word of mouth it gained popularity.  Only then was it picked up by a traditional publisher.

In Beatrix Potter’s own words, here’s what she said about receiving rejections.

Tuesday, March 13th, 1900:  “Another rejection today for my “Tale of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor’s Garden”.  The publishers Frederick Warne and Co. seemed interested and I went today by appointment to meet Mr. Harold Warne.  But he wants a bigger book, which I cannot do, and we had arguments.  (It is odious to a shy person to be snubbed especially when the shy person happens to be right).  If no one will accept the book as it is, I will get it printed myself.

If she and the publishers only knew how important Beatrix Potter’s book would be to children’s literature!  Today I took my kids to a Beatrix Potter themed puppet show.  It was so cool to see dozens of kids laughing along to the tales of the two bad mice, Jemimah Puddleduck, and Jeremy Fisher the frog.  Over a hundred years later, and these stories still resonate with children.  And to think even Beatrix Potter received her share of rejections.  Unbelievable!  Makes you think that if you just keep going and keep trying to get better, you too can find success!

1 Comment on Perseverance from Potter…Beatrix Potter!

  • Donna O. says:
    February 3, 2014 at 11:22 am

    You know, I’ve heard a lot of stories about authors who were rejected over and over for books that eventually became famous – but I did not know this particular story about Beatrix Potter.

    So thanks for sharing. And to think, if she had not been so confident in her work, I may not have read that wonderful tale as a kid.

    P.S. Glad you persevered too. :-)


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