Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) is selling 11,000 books a day...24 years after his death. And yet, his first book, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, almost didn't get published.
From A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, by Brian Grazer:
The story of Geisel being rejected twenty-seven times before his first book was published is often repeated, but the details are worth relating. Geisel says he was walking home, stinging from the book's twenty-seventh rejection, with the manuscript and drawings for Mulberry Street under his arm, when an acquaintance from his student days at Dartmouth College bumped into him on the sidewalk on Madison Avenue in New York City.
Mike McClintock asked what Geisel was carrying. "That's a book no one will publish," said Geisel. "I'm lugging it home to burn." McClintock had just that morning been made editor of children's books at Vanguard; he invited Geisel up to his office, and McClintock and his publisher bought Mulberry Street that day.
When the book came out, the legendary book reviewer for the New Yorker, Clifton Fadiman, captured it in a single sentence: "They say it's for children, but better get a copy for yourself and marvel at the good Dr. Seuss's impossible pictures and the moral tale of the little boy who exaggerated not wisely but too well."
Geisel would later say of meeting McClintock on the street, "If I'd been going down the other side of Madison Avenue, I'd be in the dry-cleaning business today."
Truth is...Persistence doesn't always lead to success, but we fail 100% of the attempts we don't make.