Brandon Sanderson on Writing and Rejection

Brandon Sanderson, who is widely considered the current reigning champion of modern fantasy epics, may seem to be the last person to have suffered endless streams of rejection letters from agents and publishers. In fact, before he was published, Brandon Sanderson wrote 13 novels, all rejected by everyone he sent them to. He was frustrated, disappointed, and as one might suspect, considered giving up more than once. But he didn’t give up. He kept on trying.

According to Sanderson, most of his feedback from publishers and agents was for his stories to be darker or “more like George R.R. Martin” (author of the A Song of Ice and Fire). Darker, gritter books were not his forte and not what he wanted to write, and so he decided not to listen to the advice and keep on writing the stories he enjoyed writing. That, in itself, is a lesson every writer should take to heart.

Eventually, his persistence did payoff, and in 2003, Tor Books accepted his novel, Elantris, which did well enough to kick start his career. His next series of books, the Mistborn trilogy, became a best seller, and drew the attention of Harriet McDougal, widow of Robert Jordan who passed away before completing the enormously popular Wheel of Time series. She asked Sanderson to complete the series, which he did, authoring the last three novels from Jordan’s extensive notes. Sanderson is now a New York Times Best Selling author, having hit #1 with his novel Words of Radiance, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The full interview with Brandon Sanderson on his struggles and success can be read in “The Guardian.”

Obviously, not every aspiring author will become as fantastically popular as Brandon Sanderson. But every aspiring author should take heart in knowing that even the great writers have struggled and wondered if they should keep on trying. They did keep on trying, and eventually, their persistence paid off.

In the end, you only truly fail the day you give up.

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