One Author’s Path to Publication: From 47 Rejections to a New York Times Bestseller

What does it take to become a New York Times bestselling author? Annie F. Downs, author of multiple books and one New York Times bestseller, believes it takes perseverance and a belief in your calling as a writer. Annie’s path to publication got off to a rocky start filled with numerous rejection letters. In fact, her first book received 47 rejections from publishers.


“The book I had written wouldn’t sell. I got 47 nos. There aren’t even that many publishers! We got multiple nos from the same houses.” Annie F. Downs


Annie self-published her first book and went on to write four more books, which are now stocked on the shelves of stores all over the country. She’s expanded her reach beyond books and continues to share her message by speaking and hosting the popular podcast That Sounds Fun.

We sat down with Annie to discuss her path to publication, and she offered the following advice for writers who face rejection. discuss her path to publication, and she offered the following advice for writers who face rejection. 


Write for your readers.

If we believe our words matter to our readers, we’ll continue to provide content regardless of how the publishing industry responds. We need to serve the readers we have with our content even when we receive rejections.

After receiving 47 rejections from traditional publishers, Annie decided to publish her book anyway. She self-published and sold her book to the same readers she already served with her message on a regular basis.

Because she had already cultivated a relationship with readers, Annie sold thousands of copies and her book began to attract the attention of publishers. Eventually, her self-published book was repackaged and published traditionally. (Click the link at the end of this post to hear more of her story!) 


Expand your circle. 

If we believe in our work, we’ll also begin to look for areas to expand our circle of influence. We can think outside the box and create new opportunities for ourselves instead of waiting for an invitation. 

Annie mailed hundreds of copies of her first book to leaders of the groups where her target audience gathered, then she offered to speak at those locations. This expanded her circle of influence and put her book in the hands of the young women who needed to read it. 

What would expanding your circle of influence look like in your current writing situation?


Keep trying new things.

Failure doesn’t have the last word when it comes to our writing. In fact, it can teach us valuable lessons if we allow ourselves to grow better rather than bitter. 


“You should try things, and if they fail, it’s okay . . . If I had never tried, I wouldn’t know the power of failing at something.” Annie F. Downs


There will be failure and rejection on the path to publication. There is no such thing as an overnight success story, and our failures are often opportunities for us to exercise our creativity in new ways when it comes to writing and publishing. 

When faced with rejection, ask yourself: What does this failure have to teach me? 

Let it propel you forward to try something new, and write anyway. 


Want to learn more behind the scenes of Annie’s success story? Click here for free access to our entire conversation and take one step towards balancing the art of writing and speaking with the business of publishing.


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