Saturday 26 July 2014

Kathryn Stockett Refused to Give Up on The Help

It was the day after September 11.  Kathryn Stockett was living in New York without a phone, without mail. She didn't know what to do with herself.  So she started writing a book.  The book, based in Jackson, Mississippi where she had grown up, was about black maids and the white women they worked for.

After a year and a half of writing, Ms. Stockett strated submitting her manuscript to agents.  Her first rejection said:  "Story did not sustain my interest."  After 15 more rejections, Kathryn's friend said:  "Maybe the next book will do better."  But the debut author was determined to sell this book, explaining that she wasn't about to move on because of "a few stupid letters".  

Rejection number 40 said:  "There is no market for this kind of tiring writing."  The comment made Kathryn cry.  She spent the entire weekend in her pajamas.  But she didn't give up.  She just dug in deeper.  Her friends started to wonder how many times she could repaint her apartment, when in reality she was working on her manuscript.  

After rejection number 45, Kathryn became neurotic:  she lived, ate and breathed her story.  In fact, one hour before her scheduled appointment to deliver her baby, she was at home rewriting the last chapter of her book.  She gave birth to a healthy baby girl, but did not give up on her literary quest.  Kathryn would leave the baby with her husband saying she was going on a girls' getaway when in fact she was around the corner at the Comfort Inn pounding away on her keyboard.  

In 2009, after five years of writing, after three and a half years of rejections, query number 61 said yes! Three weeks later, Kathryn's agent sold her manuscript to Amy Einhorn Books.  The Help landed on the New York Times bestseller list (for 100 weeks).  It has sold 500 million copies in 35 countries and three languages. The Help was made into a blockbuster movie as well.  All because Kathryn Stockett refused to give up.


1 comment:

  1. I loved this book. It was a little challenging to get into the writing style at first, but once I realized the change of "authors" of each chapter, that was no problem.. The only problem I had were tired mornings, for staying up too late reading! Would recommend to anyone who hasn't read, know I'm a little behind the curve on it's popularity, but I have a three year old! What can I say I just got back into the healthy habit of reading!
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