Overcome the Odds

Every author has a story. I’m not just talking about the words that are printed in the manuscript, but also the background of the author. Most bestsellers are written by authors who went through humbling experiences.

Read these examples and think about them whenever you have doubts.

* She was persuaded by her sister to send the manuscript to a literary agent. The whole story was because of a silly dream, but she wrote it and now her sister wanted her to try and sell it. After many rejections, Stephanie Meyer was signed by Jodi Reamer and went on to sell over a 100 million books.

* Her husband “dared” her to start writing books. Sandra Brown took that dare and now has over 50 New York Times bestsellers.

* After college, he worked in the travel industry for a company owned by his grandfather. Harlen Coben has since won the Edgar Award, Shamus Award, and the Anthony Award. He is the only author to win all three.

* His parents would not allow him to watch TV or movies, but instead, he had to read books. Ken Follett has sold 100 million of his own titles.

* He felt alienated around people, because of his 6’9 height and amazing intelligence. Even at Harvard, the professor gave him bad marks on purpose. To overcome his struggles, he practiced meditation and became a workaholic. He has sold over 150 million books. John Michael Crichton passed away on November 4th, 2008, but his dream lives on.

* While her husband was at work, she did ceramic crafts and sewed her children’s clothes. During a winter storm in 1979, to fight off boredom, she started writing her first book. Nora Roberts has spent 660 weeks on the bestsellers list.

* His childhood memories consisted of poverty, along with a father who was drunk, violently abusive, and cheated on his mother. During his writing career, it took 35 novels before he broke through. Dean Koontz never gave up and has sold more than 200 million books.

* He wrote short stories and screenplays without much success. He then decided to try being a novelist. It took three years for him to write his first novel and another two years for the book to be published. Absolute Power was an instant success for a book and a movie that stared Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman. David Baldacci was awarded People Magazine’s, 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. These days, he is a pretty good author as well.

* After being expelled from school, she tossed her uniform in the Thames River. Only fifteen-years-old, she had an affair with Marlon Brando who was twenty-nine. Early in her author career, her work was called, “Nasty, filthy, and disgusting.” Jackie Collins has sold more than 400 million books.

* After her husband claimed he loved another woman, then left to be with his mistress, this author became devastated to the point where depression caused amnesia. She went to a hotel as the entire world searched for her. Agatha Christie has sold more than 2 billion books.

* She was on welfare, depressed, and had suicidal thoughts. Thank goodness for Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling never gave up and sold over 350 million books.

* One marriage ended after 9 years, the other marriage ended after her husband was convicted of several rape charges, and her third husband was a heroin addict. Danielle Steel has used her experiences to sell more than 500 million books.

What odd’s will you have to overcome? How will you handle the humbling moments in your life? Will you write books that are so amazing, not even death can stop them from selling?

I could have written a blog on each of these authors, explaining what they went through to live their dream. Next weekend, I’ll list ten more examples of authors who used their experiences, good and bad, to create fiction that will stand the test of time.

As you think about the privilege of being an author, understand why I want to keep the value of books at a high level. It would be a slap in the face to these authors, if others short-cut the process. 

When you overcome the odds, publishing that book will lead to greatness.

* He was addicted to beer, cigarettes, cocaine, Xanax, Valiums, NyQuil, and marijuana. Stephen King vowed to quick his addictions and went on to sell over 350 million books.


Ron Knight

Author of “2-10”

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  1. nice post. thanks.

  2. Debbie Peters says:

    I had 20 years in the medical field. I have had other heartwarming and difficult experiences over my life time. 13 years ago in January, I became disabled with a disease known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome. Over the first few years, I had to learn to do things all over again-Including writing. My disability includes having constant illnesses due to the immune system being damaged. Continous severe pain and every day surprises, had become my new life. My hobby of sewing was found to be impossible-when I could not feel a needle that had gone through my hand. Writing had become my only way to feel alive, like my life was worth living. I have had 10 years writing and 6 published.

    Hopefully you will be writing a blog about how many books I have sold.
    Most of my books are popular, but not to too many people outside of Ohio.