"[...] Stephen King (on Carrie): We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.
Joseph Heller (on Catch–22): I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.
George Orwell (on Animal Farm): It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.
Oscar Wilde (on Lady Windermere’s Fan): My dear sir, I have read your manuscript. Oh, my dear sir.
Vladimir Nabokov (on Lolita): … overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian … the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream … I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was turned down so many times, Beatrix Potter initially self-published it.
Lust for Life by Irving Stone was rejected 16 times, but found a publisher and went on to sell about 25 million copies.
John Grisham’s first novel was rejected 25 times. [...]"
— The Girl & Her Books