From the anthology The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives (edited by Katie Couric and published by Random House), as excerpted on Yahoo), an almost unbelievable tale of Kathryn Stockett's experience writing her best-selling book The Help, the long and difficult road to getting it published and her incredible capacity for stick-to-it-tiveness:
It took me a year and a half to write my earliest version of The Help. I’d told most of my friends and family what I was working on. Why not? We are compelled to talk about our passions. When I’d polished my story, I announced it was done and mailed it to a literary agent.
Six weeks later, I received a rejection letter from the agent, stating, “Story did not sustain my interest.” I was thrilled! I called my friends and told them I’d gotten my first rejection! Right away, I went back to editing. I was sure I could make the story tenser, more riveting, better.
A year and a half later, I opened my 40th rejection: “There is no market for this kind of tiring writing.” That one finally made me cry. “You have so much resolve, Kathryn,” a friend said to me. “How do you keep yourself from feeling like this has been just a huge waste of your time?”
In the end, I received 60 rejections for The Help. But letter number 61 was the one that accepted me. After my five years of writing and three and a half years of rejection, an agent named Susan Ramer took pity on me. What if I had given up at 15? Or 40? Or even 60? Three weeks later, Susan sold The Help to Amy Einhorn Books.
Such an amazing and inspiring story of unwavering perseverance and determination. This story was particularly poignant for me because I loved reading "The Help" so much and felt such gratitude towards the author for the gift of her work. And this was before I even knew the backstory of what she went through to get it published.
Thank you, Kathryn, for never giving up and for always believing in your passion!
(Note: The Help has now been published in 35 countries and three languages. As of August 2011, it has sold five million copies and has spent more than a 100 weeks on the The New York Times Best Seller List. (Source, Wikipedia.) The movie version of the book was released August 10, 2011.)