Looking through the Great Burger and Berger Failure Archive

I’ve been cleaning my office recently and finally tackling a giant box of paper that has been traveling around with me and Sam for many years.

It turned out to be a big box of FAIL. It’s a good thing that things are EPIC WIN for me right now, otherwise looking through the box would have been incredibly depressing.
It was full of rejected/abandoned projects … kidlit, adultlit, comic books, art, you name it.

Sam found an old query letter for Qwikpick, back when he was calling it “The Christmas Day Adventure Club.”

I found what may be my first ever kidlit rejection letter.** Circa 1992! So that would make it 18 years of rejection/failure before I finally had success last year with Origami Yoda.

I also dug up an old report card from the sixth grade with a note from my reading teacher…
“written work lacks depth and care for a job well done.”

**By the way, that rejection was totally deserved. My project was half-baked and my query letter was an abomination.

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6 Responses

  1. Name the owner of the report card that contains this comment:

    “He seems incapable of marshalling his thoughts on paper!”

    • Mark Twain … His teacher had just read Tom Sawyer Abroad.

      But seriously, who?

      On Wed Jan 12th, 2011 3:33 PM EST

  2. I wouldn’t say 18 years of failure. 18 years of learning and honing the skills you needed, maybe!

    Of course, both of my parents and my wife are all teachers. That might color my approach to these things.

    How many times did Babe Ruth strike out? How many times did Thomas Jefferson NOT invent a working light bulb?

  3. Hang onto those … great material for school visits, writer workshops, etc. Everyone loves a great “rejections to riches” story!

  4. On one of my more frustrating days on the epic publishing journey, my fiance showed me an article about famous books that were turned down multiple times by agents or authors. http://www.examiner.com/book-in-national/30-famous-authors-whose-works-were-rejected-repeatedly-and-sometimes-rudely-by-publishers
    This isn’t the exact article he showed me, but it’s something like it. I find it’s good to have post it notes on the laptop when I get too frustrated, to remind me how many times a Wrinkle In Time or Harry Potter were rejected before they got their chance.

    • I can see why some editors may not have taken to Wrinkle in Time right away, but it is awfully hard to imagine anyone not instantly falling for Harry.

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