Producer Jimmy Ienner felt Madonna was not ready for a music career but did mention he liked "'I Want You', 'Get Up' and 'High Society.'" We're sure he's still kicking himself for passing up Madge.
RSO Records found U2 (and its frontman Mr. P. Hewson aka Bono) "not suitable for us to present" in 1979. Within the same year, U2 signed with Island Records and released their first international single, "11 O'Clock Tick Tock."
In 1956, Andy Warhol tried to donate a drawing to the Museum of Modern Art, but after careful consideration, the museum decided "they ought not accept it for our Collection." The museum now owns 168 Warhol pieces.
In 1949, the Atlantic Monthly found that Vonnegut's samples were not "quite compelling enough for final acceptance." Three years later, he would publish his first novel, "Player Piano."
In response to Stein's manuscript for "The Making of Americans," Arthur C. Fifield quipped, "Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one."
"I haven’t 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," one publisher wrote in reference to "Catch-22."
"Your work looks as if it were done by four different people ... Resubmit when your work is consistent and when you have learned to draw hands," Marvel Comics Group told the soon-to-be "X-Men" illustrator. Lee did eventually resubmit and started his stellar career with Marvel Comics.
"Lord of the Flies" was rejected by 20 publishers. One claimed it was "an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull."
While still in high school, Burton submitted his book, "The Giant Zlig," to Walk Disney Productions; however, they found it "too derivative of the Seuss works to be marketable." After graduating, the company brought Burton on as an animator's apprentice.
"I'm sorry we decided against these poems. We like the second section of AMNESIAC very much, but cannot see any relation between it and the first section ... But would you think over the possibility of printing the second section alone under that title?" The New Yorker wrote to Plath in 1962.
"The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above 'curiosity' level," an unnamed publisher wrote in his rejection letter.
Ursula K. Le Guin
An unnamed editor called the famed fantasy writer's novel "unreadable." The rejection letter goes on to say, "The whole is so dry and airless, so lacking in pace, that whatever drama and excitement the novel might have had is entirely dissipated by what does seem, a great deal of the time, to be extraneous material."
Orwell's "Animal Farm" was swiftly rejected with, "It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA." The novel has now sold over 20 million copies.
The fearless journalist and best-selling author of "The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" was rejected from a journalism graduate program in Stockholm. The letter is now estimated to be worth between 8,000 and 12,000 pounds.
King kept all of his rejection letters for "Carrie" nailed to a timber under his bed. One of them read, "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell."