Herman Melville sold 8 copies of Moby Dick.
In his lifetime, Van Gogh sold a total of one painting–and that was to his brother. The local pub used some of his paintings as dart boards.
John Kennedy Toole could not get a publisher interested in his novel, Mr. Roberts.
It became a best-seller and a year later was a smash hit on Broadway. The year after that, Heggen killed himself. Ross Lockridge learned that his novel, the Raintree Country was the best selling novel in the country. Ten days later, he took his life.
James Joyce’s story, Dubliners, was rejected by over 20 publishers. When it was finally printed, an angry reader bought up every copy and burned them.
John LeCarre, Dr. Seuss, H. G. Well, and Rudyard Kipling were all told they had no future in writing.
Tony Hillerman was told his book could be published, if he got rid of “all of that Indian stuff.”