Just went through some of my old rejection letters. As readers of this blog know, I garnered more than 500 rejections before getting published.
One of my unpublished books was The List.
. . . .
THE LIST is a bit of a departure for Konrath. It’s a technothriller about a group of ten people who each have tattoos of numbers on the bottoms their feet, and don’t know why.
One of them, a Chicago Homicide cop named Tom Mankowski, has had one of these strange tattoos since birth. When he investigates a violent murder and discovers the victim also has a tattooed number, it sets the ball rolling for an adventure of historic proportions.
To say more would give away too much.
The above description was, more or less, the query letter that my agent sent out to over a dozen top editors.
Here are some of the rejections The List received:
Here is The List. I’m returning it to you. Sorry it didn’t work out at Ballantine, hope you’ll place it elsewhere soon. – Ballantine Books
As discussed, The List by Joe Konrath isn’t a book for me. Thank you, and I’m sorry. – Penguin Putnam
Thanks for letting me see The List by Joe Konrath. While it’s certainly not a plot I’ve seen before–at least the cloning part–it seems very familiar all the same, plus the humor in the storytelling seems a little forced and sitcom-ish, and finally exhausted my interest. So it has to be a pass for me. Despite my reservations about The List, I suspect the originality of the concept will prove a lure to someone, and I wish you all the best with it. – Simon & Schuster
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I shared The List by Joe Konrath with some colleagues here. Several found it amusing but ultimately we felt it was a bit too odd and were concerned about the audience. So I will be declining. William Morrow
I certainly give Joe Konrath lots of credit for trying to put forth a most creative and different kind of thriller involving clones of famous people. And for the most part his wise-cracking dialogue held my attention, too. But int he final analysis, I just thought he tried to hard in this over-the-top novel. I just think it would be a very difficult thriller to sell to our sales force in a major way. The credibility factor is strained a wee bit too much. As such, I’m returning it with my regrets, but with my thanks for the look. – Warner Books
. . . .
In April of 2009, I self-published The List.
As of this writing, December 26, 2011, The List has earned me over $100,000.
Right now it is in the Kindle Top 100 again (it has cracked the Top 100 four different times since I published it.)
What does that translate into sales?
The novel, rejected by everyone, is right now selling over 100 copies an hour, currently earning $3.50 a minute. That’s $210 an hour, $5040 a day. And it seems to be picking up speed.
. . . .
So I’d like to take this opportunity to send warm holiday cheer and sincere thanks the editors at HarperCollins, Bantam Dell, Hyperion, NAL, Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, William Morrow, Warner Books, St. Martin’s Press, Ballantine, Penguin Putnam, Talk Miramax, Pocket Books, Little, Brown and Company, for rejecting The List. And thanks to Grand Central for rejecting Trapped.
Much success to you all in 2012.
And just to show my story isn’t unique, my friend and writing partner, Blake Crouch, recently had a similar experience with his novel Run. It was shopped during the fall of 2010 to a dozen major publishers, all of whom rejected it. Since Blake published Run himself in March, it has sold over 40,000 copies, and is currently ranked at #92 in the Kindle store. In the last 48 hours alone, it has sold over 2000 copies.
Blake and I want to wish all of those editors who rejected us a very Happy New Year.