Don’t take “no” for an answer!


John Grisham, the famous writer, was turned down by 16 agents and a dozen publishers before he got his first book published. It is amazing that he was only turned down that many times because many great writers were turned down ten times more than that.

John was a lawyer working 60-80 hours a week in Southaven Mississippi. But he still found time to write. He would get up at 5 AM every morning to write for an hour. After three years he finished his first novel – A Time to Kill.

Actor Harrison Ford was told by the VP of Columbia that he just didn’t have what it takes to become an actor. Ford became a self-taught carpenter and made cabinets and other things for the rock band The Doors, Sally Kellerman and a recording studio for Sergio Mendes. He made cabinets in the home of Georg Lucas, who gave him a role in American Graffiti (1973). Lucas didn’t give Ford the part of Han Solo right away. It took a lot of work and persuasion by Ford, but that role made him extremely famous.

Steven Spielberg tried to go to filmmaking school but was not accepted. He visited Universal Studios and met Chuck Silvers, an executive there. Silvers invited him to come back. Spielberg did and hung around the whole summer, pretending to be an employee there, wearing a black suit and carrying his father’s briefcase with nothing inside it but his lunch.

10 years later Spielberg directed Jaws, which made more money than any other movie at that time.


  1. Hi. Thanks for the like on my post with pix from the Vivitar Ultra Wide. I really like your post here; it’s amazing how many successful people in many different walks of life were told, often by a teacher, they would never amount to anything. I’ve concluded that it’s a refusal to fit into ‘the system’, including refusal to accept ‘no’, that makes them able to succeed – as your examples illustrate.

  2. As I hopped onto WordPress this morning with the intention to write a blog about my desire to be a writer, I saw your blog and saw it fitting. Thanks for the reminder to not give up despite rejection. Although a writers work may not appeal to everyone, there ARE people out there interested in what you have to say! 🙂

  3. If you’ve ever worked in sales, you quickly develop a thick skin for the word “no.” The answer to that two letter word is a four-letter word, “Next!” It’s a bit harder for most artists, though, because they are selling themselves. But in the end, getting the sale is always requires the same ingredients — Hard work, perseverance, talent, and a bit of luck.

  4. My husband’s friend, Karen Joy Fowler, was turned down 34 times for her first book, “Sarah Canary”…when it was finally accepted it was nominated for about every first book award there is, plus awards for established authors. Thirty-four people who felt like asses, no doubt. Now there is a website devoted to Sarah Canary, and Fowler sold the subsidiary rights to her “Jane Austen Book Club” for $2.5 million and bought a spent it on a “small bungalow” outside San Fran, where she was a struggling student and mother when she was piling up the rejection letters. Hard advice to follow, but it is too true.
    On my Way…

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