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Bestsellers that almost didn't make it to the bookstores

Dagmar Breitenbach
January 4, 2018

They have very different styles, but Stephen King and Beatrix Potter have something in common: They're both authors whose books were initially rejected by publishers — and went on to become bestsellers. Here are more.

https://p.dw.com/p/2qKr4

About 20 years ago, quite a few publishers turned down an unknown British writer's story about a young wizard and his adventures at a school of witchcraft. That may be one the more glaring recent errors of judgement in the publishing world, but it isn't the only one by far.

The list of rejected manuscripts that went on to become best-selling books is long, and full of surprises.

Read more: 'The History of Bees' is Germany's top-selling book of 2017

Anne Frank's "The Diary of a Young Girl" was turned down by English-language publishers, but saved from the rejection pile by an editor with Doubleday, where the book was published in in 1952 — and became not only a bestseller, but also one of the most enduring documents of the 20th century.

"The Jungle Book" by Rudyard Kipling was also turned down, with one publisher reportedly remarking Kipling didn't now how to use English. What a loss that would have been: The 1967 Disney animated film version is beloved by children all over the world to this day.  

Other literary works that almost didn't make the cut include "Dubliners," a collection of short stories by James Joyce, and "The Kon-Tiki Expedition by Raft Across the South Seas," the story of a raft expedition by Thor Heyerdahl. Once the travel memoirs were published in 1948, the first run sold out in 15 days. It later became an international hit. 

The gallery above features more international bestsellers that initially faced rejection. 

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