20 Best Selling Author Success Stories

by Jack Thomas August 17, 2023

In this article, we delve deep into the success stories of some of the world's bestselling authors, unraveling the mysteries behind their meteoric rise. From humble beginnings to serendipitous encounters, from years of rejection to moments of epiphany, these narratives are as diverse as they are inspiring. Join us as we journey through the pages of these authors' lives, discovering the magic that transformed their words into literary legends.

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Haruki Murakami Author Success Story

Haruki Murakami Author Success Story

Featured Author

Haruki Murakami

Contemporary Literary Fiction

His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and the most recent of his many international honors is the Jerusalem Prize

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Haruki Murakami is a celebrated Japanese novelist and translator, whose works have captivated readers with their blend of magical realism, profound themes, and intricate character development. Born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1949, his novels have been translated into over fifty languages, making him a global literary sensation.

Career: Before delving into the world of writing, Murakami's primary occupation was running his jazz bar in Tokyo with his wife, which they managed for seven years. However, a moment of inspiration at a baseball game led him to the world of literature, where he penned his first novel and subsequently many more, establishing himself as a prominent figure in contemporary literature.

Writing the Manuscript: The inspiration to write struck Murakami in 1978 while he was watching a baseball game. In a serendipitous moment, when an American player, Dave Hilton, hit a double, Murakami had an epiphany that he could write a novel. He began writing that very night.

Acceptance: Murakami's debut novel, "Hear the Wind Sing," was not only accepted but also won the Gunzou Literature Prize for budding writers in 1979.

Publication: Following the success of his first novel, Murakami wrote two sequels, "Pinball, 1973" and "A Wild Sheep Chase," which together form “The Trilogy of the Rat.” His writing journey continued with numerous other novels, short stories, and non-fiction works.

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Veronica Roth Author Success Story

Veronica Roth

Featured Author

Veronica Roth

Teen & Young Adult Fiction

#1 New York Times bestselling author of the Divergent series and Carve the Mark. She was born in a Chicago suburb, and studied creative writing at Northwestern University

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Veronica Roth, born on August 19, 1988, in New York City, is an acclaimed American novelist recognized for her bestselling "Divergent" trilogy. Her transition from a student to a globally renowned author has been meteoric, capturing the hearts of readers worldwide.

Career: Before her authorial success, Roth's career was primarily academic. After spending a year at Carleton College, she transferred to Northwestern University, drawn by its creative writing program.

Personal Struggles: Veronica Roth faced challenges in her personal life. Her parents divorced when she was just five years old. She has mentioned her maternal grandparents as concentration camp survivors, which influenced her family's religious beliefs. Roth herself learned about Christianity during her high school years and has continued with the faith.

Writing the Manuscript: Roth began writing her first book, "Divergent," during her winter break in her senior year at Northwestern University. The idea for the story and its characters had been brewing in her mind, and she took this break as an opportunity to put it on paper.

Acceptance: Her writing journey saw a significant turn when, after completing her manuscript, she found an agent by March of the following year. The success of "Divergent" was swift, with publishing rights being sold even before she graduated from college in 2010.

Publication: "Divergent" was printed in April 2011, and its success was almost immediate. The film rights were sold in mid-March 2011, even before the novel's print release. The book's popularity led to the creation of a film adaptation, further propelling Roth into the limelight. She continued her "Divergent" series with subsequent novels, and her works have been translated into numerous languages, solidifying her position as a literary sensation.

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Jojo Moyes Author Success Story

Jojo Moyes

Featured Author

Jojo Moyes

Romance Literary Fiction

Bestselling novelist and journalist. Her novels have been translated into forty-six languages, have hit the number one spot in twelve countries and have sold over thirty-eight million copies worldwide

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Jojo Moyes, an English journalist and novelist, is best known for her captivating romance novels, including the international bestseller "Me Before You." Her transition from journalism to fiction writing has led her to become one of the most beloved contemporary authors.

Career: Before venturing into the world of novels, Moyes had a diverse career. She held several jobs, including being a typist at NatWest, where she typed statements in braille for blind individuals, a brochure writer for Club 18-30, and a minicab controller. She later attended Royal Holloway, University of London, where she worked for the Egham and Staines News. 

Writing the Manuscript: In the early stages of her writing career, Moyes penned three manuscripts, all of which were initially rejected. Despite the challenges and with one child and another on the way, she decided to give it another shot. If her fourth book was rejected, she resolved to halt her writing efforts.

Acceptance: Upon submitting the first three chapters of her fourth book, six publishers entered a bidding war for the rights, marking a significant turning point in her writing career.

Publication: Moyes transitioned to a full-time novelist in 2002 with the publication of her first book, "Sheltering Rain." Her 2012 novel "Me Before You" was a significant success, selling six million copies and reaching number one in nine countries. This success rejuvenated interest in her previous works, leading to multiple novels being on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously. She continued her "Me Before You" story with sequels "After You" in 2015 and "Still Me" in 2018.

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Lee Child Author Success Story

Lee Child

Featured Author

Lee Child

War & Military Action Fiction

His books consistently achieve the number-one slot on bestseller lists around the world and have sold over one hundred million copies. Two blockbusting Jack Reacher movies have been made so far

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James Dover Grant, primarily known by his pen name Lee Child, is a British author renowned for his thriller novels, especially the Jack Reacher series. His debut novel, "Killing Floor" (1997), garnered significant acclaim, winning both the Anthony Award and the 1998 Barry Award for Best First Novel.

Career: Before venturing into writing, Grant had a career in television. He joined Granada Television, a part of the UK's ITV Network, in Manchester as a presentation director. During his tenure from 1977 to 1995, he was associated with prominent shows and contributed to the transmission of over 40,000 hours of programming, crafting numerous commercials and news stories. 

Personal Struggles: Grant's decision to become a novelist was influenced by his redundancy from Granada Television due to corporate restructuring. This professional setback pushed him to explore writing, viewing novels as "the purest form of entertainment."

Writing the Manuscript: After his redundancy, Grant embarked on his writing journey, producing his first novel, "Killing Floor." He adopted the pen name "Lee Child" based on a family joke related to the mispronunciation of Renault's "Le Car" as "Lee Car." His daughter, Ruth, was humorously referred to as "lee child."

Rejections: Lee Child faced several rejections before finding a publisher for "Killing Floor." Like many authors, he experienced the challenges of the publishing industry, where manuscripts often face numerous rejections before finding a home.

Acceptance: In 1997, Grant's debut novel, "Killing Floor," was accepted and published, marking the beginning of his illustrious writing career.

Publication: Following the publication of "Killing Floor," Grant relocated to the United States in the summer of 1998. The novel's success laid the foundation for the Jack Reacher series, with Grant commencing each new book on the anniversary of starting his first novel post redundancy.

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Michael Connelly Author Success Story

Michael Connelly

Featured Author

Michael Connelly

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction

The bestselling author of more than thirty novels and one work of nonfiction. With over eighty-five million copies of his books sold worldwide, he is one of the most successful writers working today

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Michael Connelly is a best-selling American author known for his crime fiction and detective novels. His works have been translated into 36 languages, and he has sold over 50 million books worldwide.

Career: Before embarking on his writing career, Michael Connelly worked as a crime journalist for the Daytona Beach News Journal. Later, he joined the Fort Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel, where he covered the violence and chaos of the south Florida cocaine wars.

Personal Struggles: Michael's interest in crime was piqued at a young age when he discovered a gun wrapped in a shirt, thrown away by a mysterious man. This early encounter with the darker side of life, combined with his mother's interest in crime fiction, influenced his future career choices.

Writing the Manuscript: Michael Connelly's inspiration to become a writer was further solidified after watching "The Long Goodbye," based on Raymond Chandler’s book. He read all of Chandler’s works and then decided to shift his educational focus to journalism and minor in creative writing. His first novel, "The Black Echo," introduced the character Hieronymous Harry Bosch, a Los Angeles Police Department Detective.

Acceptance: In 1992, Michael Connelly's first novel, "The Black Echo," was sold to Little, Brown. This marked the beginning of his successful writing career, with the introduction of one of his recurring characters, Hieronymous Harry Bosch.

Publication: Michael Connelly's first novel, "The Black Echo," was published in 1992. The success of this book laid the foundation for a series of novels featuring the character Hieronymus Bosch. Over the years, Connelly has published numerous novels while still working as a reporter, many of which have become bestsellers and have been translated into multiple languages. After completing "The Black Ice," "The Concrete Blonde," and "The Last Coyote," he decided to write full-time, leaving his reporting job behind. His works have also been adapted into television series and films, further solidifying his reputation as a prominent figure in the crime fiction genre.

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Brandon Sanderson Author Success Story

Brandon Sanderson

Featured Author

Brandon Sanderson

Military Fantasy

Rhythm of War—the fourth massive book in the New York Times #1 bestselling Stormlight Archive series that began with The Way of Kings

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Brandon Sanderson is an American fantasy and science fiction writer, best known for his Cosmere universe, in which most of his fantasy novels are set. He gained fame for completing Robert Jordan's epic fantasy series, "The Wheel of Time."

Before Becoming an Author: Brandon Sanderson was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and grew up in Provo, Utah. Before pursuing a career in writing, he studied English and creative writing at Brigham Young University.

Career: Sanderson's career as a writer began with the publication of his debut novel, "Elantris," in 2005. He has since written numerous novels, including the "Mistborn" series, "The Stormlight Archive," and was chosen to complete "The Wheel of Time" series after the original author, Robert Jordan, passed away.

Personal Struggles: While Sanderson was passionate about writing, he faced challenges in getting his work recognized. He wrote multiple novels that went unpublished for years, facing numerous rejections from publishers.

Writing the Manuscript: Sanderson wrote several manuscripts before achieving publication. "Elantris" was his sixth novel, though it became the first to be published.

Rejections: Before his breakthrough with "Elantris," Sanderson faced rejection for twelve books over a span of eight years.

Acceptance: His perseverance paid off when an editor from Tor Books, Moshe Feder, took an interest in "Elantris" and decided to publish it.

Publication: "Elantris" was published in 2005, marking the beginning of Sanderson's successful career as a fantasy author.

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Gillian Flynn Author Success Story

Gillian Flynn

Featured Author

Gillian Flynn

Murder Thrillers

Her latest novel, GONE GIRL, is a massive No.1 bestseller. The film adaptation of GONE GIRL, won the Hollywood Film Award 2014.

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Gillian Schieber Flynn, born on February 24, 1971, is an American author, screenwriter, and producer renowned for her thriller and mystery novels, including the critically acclaimed "Gone Girl." Her works have been translated into 40 languages, and "Gone Girl" alone had sold over 15 million copies by 2016.

Before Becoming an Author: Flynn was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, in the Coleman Highlands neighborhood. Both her parents were professors at Metropolitan Community College–Penn Valley, and she grew up with an older brother. As a child, Flynn was "painfully shy" and sought solace in reading and writing. Her father often took her to watch horror movies, which might have influenced her later works.

Career: After completing her master's degree at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in 1997, Flynn briefly freelanced for U.S. News & World Report. She then joined Entertainment Weekly in 1998 as a feature writer, where she was later promoted to television critic. Flynn wrote about films and television until she was laid off in December 2008. Despite her journalism career, Flynn always had a passion for writing novels, which she pursued during her free time.

Personal Struggles: Flynn has faced criticism for her portrayal of female characters, with some accusing her of misogyny. However, she identifies as a feminist and believes that feminism allows for the portrayal of women as complex characters, both good and bad. She has expressed frustration with the stereotype that women are inherently good and nurturing.

Writing the Manuscript: While working for Entertainment Weekly, Flynn dedicated her free time to writing novels. Her first novel, "Sharp Objects" (2006), revolves around a serial killer in a Missouri town and a reporter who returns to her hometown to cover the event.

Rejections: Flynn faced challenges in her writing journey. She mentioned in an Interview Magazine article that she always wanted to be a writer, but it wasn't something she openly shared due to societal expectations. She also discussed the challenges of genre expectations and the pressure to deliver a certain type of story, especially after the success of "Gone Girl." Flynn's journey to success was not straightforward, and she had to navigate various challenges, both in terms of her writing and societal expectations.

Acceptance: Flynn's novels, especially "Gone Girl," received critical acclaim, which led to their adaptation into films and television series. "Gone Girl" was particularly successful, staying at No. 1 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestseller list for eight weeks.

Publication: Flynn's notable works include "Sharp Objects" (2006), "Dark Places" (2009), and "Gone Girl" (2012). Her books have been translated into multiple languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide.

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Malcolm Gladwell Author Success Story

Malcolm Gladwell

Featured Author

Malcolm Gladwell

Business Decision-Making

Has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. He is the author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw

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Malcolm Gladwell is a British-born Canadian journalist, author, and public speaker. He is best known for his books that delve into the intricacies of social science research, turning them into compelling narratives.

Career: Before venturing into authorship, Gladwell was a journalist. He began his career at The American Spectator, moved on to work at Insight on the News, and later joined The Washington Post, where he covered business and science. In 1996, he became a staff writer for The New Yorker.

Personal Struggles: Gladwell's unique perspective on topics often stems from his own experiences, including his mixed-race background and the challenges he faced growing up in a predominantly white rural area. These personal experiences have shaped his worldview and influenced his writing.

Writing the Manuscript: Gladwell's transition from journalism to book writing was influenced by his articles for The New Yorker. His first book, "The Tipping Point," was inspired by an article he wrote for the magazine about the sudden drop in crime rates in New York City.

Acceptance: Gladwell's unique perspective and his ability to turn complex social science research into engaging narratives caught the attention of publishers. This led to the acceptance of his manuscript for "The Tipping Point."

Publication: "The Tipping Point" was published in 2000 and quickly became a bestseller. This success paved the way for Gladwell's subsequent books, solidifying his reputation as a prominent author in the realm of non-fiction.

Neil Gaiman Author Success Story

Neil Gaiman

Featured Author

Neil Gaiman

Contemporary Fantasy Fiction

#1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Norse Mythology, Neverwhere, and The Graveyard Book

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Neil Gaiman, born in November 1960, is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films. He is best known for works such as "The Sandman" comic series, "Good Omens" (co-written with Terry Pratchett), and "American Gods."

Before Becoming an Author: Before venturing into writing, Neil Gaiman worked as a journalist, which allowed him to conduct interviews and write book reviews. This journalistic background not only honed his writing skills but also provided him with the opportunity to meet influential figures in the British publishing and comic industries.

Career: Gaiman's career took off with the publication of his comic book series "The Sandman," which ran from 1989 to 1996 and garnered a massive following. Over the years, he expanded his repertoire to include novels, short stories, and screenplays, with notable works like "Coraline," "Neverwhere," and "American Gods" solidifying his reputation as a versatile and imaginative storyteller.

Writing the Manuscript: Gaiman began his writing journey by crafting stories, influenced by his love for reading from an early age. His journalistic endeavors and interactions with the comic industry provided him with insights and inspirations that would shape his future works.

Acceptance: Gaiman's talent and persistence paid off when he started getting recognition in the comic industry, particularly with the success of "The Sandman." This opened doors for him in other literary fields, leading to the publication of his novels and other works.

Publication: After gaining traction with "The Sandman," Gaiman went on to publish numerous acclaimed works across various mediums. His unique blend of mythology, horror, and fantasy, combined with his distinct narrative voice, has made him one of the most celebrated authors of his generation.

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Sarah J. Maas Author Success Story

Sarah J. Maas

Featured Author

Sarah J. Maas

Paranormal Romance

#1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Crescent City, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and the Throne of Glass series

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Sarah J. Maas is an American author, best known for her debut series, "Throne of Glass." 

Before Becoming an Author: Sarah J. Maas was born and raised in New York City. She attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where she majored in creative writing and minored in religious studies.

Personal Struggles: Maas faced challenges in her early writing journey, including the daunting task of revising her manuscript multiple times over the span of several years before it was accepted for publication.

Writing the Manuscript: Sarah began writing the first book of the "Throne of Glass" series when she was just sixteen. Over the years, she adapted and expanded the story, sharing it on FictionPress.com where it gained a significant following.

Rejections: While the exact number of rejections isn't specified, Maas faced multiple rejections from publishers, which led her to extensively revise her manuscript.

Acceptance: After years of revisions and facing rejections, Maas's manuscript was finally accepted. She was represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency.

Publication: "Throne of Glass" was acquired by Bloomsbury, who then published it in August 2012. The book quickly gained popularity, leading to multiple sequels and establishing Maas as a notable author in the young adult fantasy genre.

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Anthony Doerr Author Success Story

Anthony Doerr

Featured Author

Anthony Doerr

Military Historical Fiction

Anthony Doerr has won numerous prizes for his fiction, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Carnegie Medal. His novel, 'All the Light We Cannot See,' was a #1 New York Times Bestseller

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Anthony Doerr is an American author renowned for his novels and short stories. He gained significant acclaim for his 2014 novel "All the Light We Cannot See," which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Before Becoming an Author: Anthony Doerr was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended the University School, graduating in 1991, and later he earned an MFA from Bowling Green State University.

Career: Before gaining widespread recognition as a novelist, Doerr published a collection of short stories titled "The Shell Collector" in 2002. He has lived and worked in various countries, including Africa and New Zealand, which influenced many of his stories. His first novel, "About Grace," was released in 2004, followed by other notable works like his memoir "Four Seasons in Rome" in 2007 and "Memory Wall," a collection of short stories, in 2010.

Writing the Manuscript: Doerr's passion for storytelling is evident in his early works, with "The Shell Collector" being his first published collection. His experiences in various countries and his academic background provided a rich tapestry for his narratives.

Acceptance: Doerr's unique storytelling and intricate narratives eventually caught the attention of publishers, leading to the acceptance of his manuscripts for publication.

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Celeste Ng Author Success Story

Celeste Ng

Featured Author

Celeste Ng

Contemporary Fiction

The number one New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere

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Celeste Ng is an American writer and novelist, best known for her novels "Everything I Never Told You" and "Little Fires Everywhere." Her works often delve into intricate family dynamics, societal expectations, and the challenges of identity.

Before Becoming an Author: Celeste Ng was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her parents moved from Hong Kong in the late 1960s. Her father, Dr. Daniel L. Ng, was a physicist at NASA, and her mother was a chemist who taught at Cleveland State University.

Career: Before her novels gained widespread acclaim, Ng had several short stories published in various literary journals. She also taught writing at the University of Michigan and at Grub Street in Boston and was an editor of blogs at the website Fiction Writers Review for three years.

Personal Struggles: Growing up as a child of immigrants from Hong Kong, Ng's works often reflect the challenges of navigating two cultures and the complexities of identity and belonging. Her experiences in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a suburb known for its progressive values and efforts at integration, influenced her portrayal of race, class, and societal expectations in her novels.

Writing the Manuscript: Ng's debut novel, "Everything I Never Told You," delves into the life of a mixed-race family in 1970s Ohio. Drawing upon her own experiences of racism and her family's history, Ng crafted a narrative that resonates with many readers.

Acceptance: Ng's unique storytelling and the depth of her characters caught the attention of publishers, leading to the acceptance of her manuscript for "Everything I Never Told You."

Publication: "Everything I Never Told You" was released on June 26, 2014, and won the Amazon Book of the Year award. It also received praise from critics and was a New York Times Notable Book of 2014. Following the success of her debut, Ng's second novel, "Little Fires Everywhere," was published in 2017 and was later adapted into a Hulu miniseries in 2020.

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Colleen Hoover Author Success Story

Colleen Hoover

Featured Author

Colleen Hoover

Suspense Thrillers

The #1 New York Times and International bestselling author of multiple novels and novellas

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Colleen Hoover, born Margaret Colleen Fennell on December 11, 1979, is an American author renowned for her novels in the romance and young adult fiction genres. She gained significant recognition for her 2016 romance novel "It Ends with Us" and has a reputation for self-publishing many of her works before they were acquired by traditional publishing houses.

Before Becoming an Author: Colleen Hoover was born in Sulphur Springs, Texas, and grew up in Saltillo, Texas. She graduated from Saltillo High School in 1998 and later from Texas A&M-Commerce with a degree in social work.

Career: Before embarking on her writing journey, Hoover worked in various social work and teaching roles.

Personal Struggles: Hoover's novel "It Ends with Us" touches on the sensitive topic of domestic violence, drawing inspiration from her personal experiences growing up in a household affected by it. This theme of domestic violence, witnessed in her childhood and its implications in her adult life, deeply influenced her writing.

Writing the Manuscript: In November 2011, Hoover began writing her debut novel, "Slammed," without any initial intentions of getting it published. The story was inspired by a lyric from an Avett Brothers song, and she incorporated their lyrics throughout the narrative.

Acceptance: Hoover's decision to self-publish "Slammed" in January 2012 was primarily so her mother could read it on her Amazon Kindle. The novel, along with its sequel "Point of Retreat," gained traction after being reviewed by book blogger Maryse Black, leading to a surge in sales.

Publication: After the success of her self-published works, traditional publishing house Atria Books picked up "Slammed" and "Point of Retreat," republishing them on August 10, 2012. Following the success of these novels, Hoover decided to leave her job in social work to pursue writing full-time. Her subsequent novels, including "Hopeless," "Finding Cinderella," and "It Ends with Us," have achieved significant success, with "It Ends with Us" being adapted into a movie.

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James Dashner Author Success Story

James Dashner

Featured Author

James Dashner

Teen & Young Adult Fiction

The #1 NY Times Bestselling author of over a dozen books, including The Maze Runner series (movies by 20th Century Fox, now owned by Disney)

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James Smith Dashner, born on November 26, 1972, in Austell, Georgia, is an American writer known for speculative fiction, particularly targeting children and young adults. He is best recognized for "The Maze Runner" series and the young adult fantasy series "The 13th Reality."

Before Becoming an Author: Born as one of six children in his family. He was raised as a Mormon and developed an interest in writing at a young age, often typing on his parents' typewriter.

Writing the Manuscript: Dashner's first novel, "A Door in the Woods," was released in 2003. This fantasy novel aimed at teenagers follows the character Jimmy Fincher and sets off a chain of events that change Jimmy's life. This book became the first in a series known as "The Jimmy Fincher Saga."

Acceptance: Dashner's work began gaining traction with the release of "The Journal of Curious Letters" in 2008, which was the first book in the "13th Reality Series." This book was recognized as a Borders Original Voices pick in 2009. His major breakthrough came with "The Maze Runner," which was released in 2009 and became immensely popular.

Publication: After the success of "The Maze Runner," 20th Century Fox obtained the rights for a film adaptation in late 2010. The book appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list for the first time in late 2012. Following the success of this series, Dashner continued to write and release more books, including "The Scorch Trials," "The Death Cure," and "The Kill Order."

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Rainbow Rowell Author Success Story

Rainbow Rowell

Featured Author

Rainbow Rowell

Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy

Rainbow Rowell is an American author celebrated for her young adult and adult contemporary novels

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Rainbow Rowell is an American author celebrated for her young adult and adult contemporary novels. Notably, her works "Eleanor & Park," "Fangirl," and "Carry On" have garnered significant acclaim.

Before Becoming an Author: Rainbow Rowell was born on February 24, 1973, in Nebraska. She grew up with a keen interest in writing and storytelling.

Career: Before venturing into full-time writing, Rowell served as a columnist and ad copywriter at the Omaha World-Herald from 1995 to 2012. After leaving her columnist position, she transitioned to working for an ad agency.

Personal Struggles: Rainbow Rowell faced challenges in 2013 when a parents' group at a Minnesota high school challenged her book "Eleanor & Park." She was subsequently disinvited from a library event. Rowell commented on the situation, stating that the material deemed "profane" by some was a reflection of real-life challenges many young individuals face.

Writing the Manuscript: After leaving her job as a columnist, Rowell began writing "Attachments" as a pastime. This novel, a romantic comedy, revolves around an IT professional who falls in love with a woman whose emails he has been monitoring.

Acceptance: Rowell's decision to write "Attachments" led her to take a break from the manuscript for two years after the birth of her first son. Once completed, the novel gained attention and was eventually published.

Publication: "Attachments" was published in 2011 and was recognized by Kirkus Reviews as one of the outstanding debuts of that year. Following this, Rowell published "Eleanor & Park" in 2012, which, along with "Fangirl," was highlighted by The New York Times as among the best young adult fiction of the year.

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Marissa Meyer Author Success Story

Marissa Meyer

Featured Author

Marissa Meyer

Teen & Young Adult Superhero Fiction

Marissa is also the NYT bestselling author of a number of books for teens, including The Lunar Chronicles, the Renegades Trilogy, and Heartless

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Marissa Meyer, born on February 19, 1984, in Tacoma, Washington, is an American novelist renowned for her young adult fantasy and science fiction works. She is best known for "The Lunar Chronicles," which began with her debut novel, "Cinder."

Before Becoming an Author: She attended Pacific Lutheran University, where she earned a Bachelor's in Creative Writing and Children's Literature, and later pursued a Master's in Publishing at Pace University.

Career: Before her success as a novelist, Meyer wrote "Sailor Moon" fan fiction for a decade under the pseudonym Alicia Blade. She also penned a novelette titled "The Phantom of Linkshire Manor" using this pen name. After college, Meyer worked in roles such as a book editor, freelance typesetter, and proofreader.

Personal Struggles: Growing up, Meyer had a profound love for fairy tales, with shows like "Sailor Moon" leaving a lasting impact on her. This passion, combined with her experiences, influenced her writing, especially the creation of "Cinder."

Writing the Manuscript: Meyer's inspiration for "Cinder" came from a dream where Cinderella was a cyborg, leading to a unique twist where Cinderella's foot, not her shoe, comes off at the ball. 

Rejection: Marissa Meyer's journey to getting "Cinder" published is an inspiring one. After writing the manuscript for "Cinder," she decided to participate in the 2008 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) contest, where she wrote a story centered on a futuristic version of "Puss in Boots." This experience likely honed her writing skills and gave her the confidence to pursue publishing "Cinder."

Acceptance: Meyer's "Cinder" caught the attention of agent Jill Grinberg, who she continues to work with. Given the unique premise of "Cinder" — a retelling of the Cinderella story with a cyborg protagonist in a futuristic setting — it's easy to see how it could stand out in a pile of query letters and manuscripts. The Lunar Chronicles, which began with "Cinder," is a series of books based on retellings of classic fairy tales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White.

Publication: "Cinder" was published in 2012 and quickly became a New York Times bestseller. 

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J.K. Rowling Author Success Story

J.K. Rowling

Featured Author

J.K. Rowling

Children's Fantasy & Magic Adventure

Author of the Harry Potter book series, as well as several stand-alone novels for adults and children, and a bestselling crime fiction series written under the pen name Robert Galbraith

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J.K. Rowling, born Joanne Rowling, is best known for her Harry Potter series. Before she became a world-renowned author, Rowling led a life filled with a series of ups and downs, which greatly influenced her writing.

Before Becoming an Author:
Rowling moved to Porto, Portugal, in the early 1990s to teach English. It was during her time in Porto that she began writing the early drafts of the Harry Potter series.

Personal Struggles: After her short-lived marriage in Portugal, Rowling moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, with her infant daughter. She faced a period of depression and financial difficulties, during which she relied on state benefits. This challenging period in her life influenced the Dementors in the Harry Potter series, which are a manifestation of depression.

Writing the Manuscript: Rowling wrote most of the first book, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," in various Edinburgh cafes, often with her daughter sleeping beside her. She completed the manuscript in 1995.

Rejections: After completing her manuscript, Rowling faced numerous rejections. It's said that the manuscript was rejected by 12 publishing houses.

Acceptance: The manuscript eventually landed in the hands of Barry Cunningham, an editor at Bloomsbury Publishing. He was advised by his eight-year-old daughter, who loved the first three chapters and wanted more. This led to Bloomsbury offering Rowling a £2,500 advance for the book.

Publication: "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was published in 1997. The book quickly gained popularity, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Rowling's journey from a struggling single mother to one of the world's most successful authors is a testament to her perseverance, talent, and belief in her story. The Harry Potter series has since become a global phenomenon, with millions of copies sold worldwide, movies, merchandise, and even a theme park dedicated to the magical world she created.

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Stephen King Author Success Story

Stephen King

Featured Author

Stephen King

Horror Suspense

Author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His first crime thriller featuring Bill Hodges, MR MERCEDES, won the Edgar Award for best novel

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Stephen King, born on September 21, 1947, in Portland, Maine, is an American author renowned for his horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, and fantasy novels. With over 350 million copies sold, many of his works have been adapted into films, miniseries, television series, and comic books.

Before Becoming an Author: After his parents separated when he was a toddler, he was raised by his mother, moving between Indiana and Connecticut before settling back in Maine.

Career: Before his breakthrough as a novelist, King worked in various jobs, including as a laborer and a janitor. He also taught English at Hampden Academy in Maine. During this time, he wrote short stories and sold them to men's magazines.

Personal Struggles: King faced numerous challenges in his early life, including witnessing a traumatic incident involving a friend being struck and killed by a train when he was a child. In his adult life, King struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, which he later overcame.

Writing the Manuscript: King began writing "Carrie," his first novel, while working as a teacher. The story revolves around a teenage girl with telekinetic powers who faces bullying at school and abuse at home.

Rejections: Stephen King faced multiple rejections in his early writing career. In fact, he became so discouraged with "Carrie" that he threw the manuscript away. However, his wife, Tabitha, retrieved it from the trash and encouraged him to finish it.

Acceptance: After completing "Carrie," King submitted the manuscript to Doubleday, a publishing house. The novel was accepted, and King was given a modest advance.

Publication: "Carrie" was published in 1974. The paperback rights were later sold for $400,000, marking the beginning of King's successful career as a novelist.

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Danielle Steel Author Success Story

Danielle Steel

Featured Author

Danielle Steel

Mothers & Children Fiction

One of the world's most popular authors, with nearly a billion copies of her novels sold

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Danielle Steel is an American writer renowned for her romance novels. She stands as the bestselling living author and one of the top-selling fiction authors of all time, with over 800 million copies sold.

Before Becoming an Author: Danielle Steel was born in New York City to a German father and a Portuguese mother. She spent a significant portion of her childhood in France, often attending her parents' dinner parties, which gave her insights into the lives of the wealthy and famous. After her parents' divorce when she was eight, she was primarily raised by her father. Steel began writing stories during her childhood and had started writing poetry by her late teens. Raised Catholic, she even considered becoming a nun in her early years. She graduated from the Lycée Français de New York in 1965 and went on to study literature design and fashion design at Parsons School of Design and New York University.

Career: While still a student at New York University, Steel began her writing journey, completing her first manuscript at the age of 19. She worked for a public-relations agency in New York named Supergirls. Encouraged by a client, Ladies' Home Journal editor John Mack Carter, she shifted her focus to writing. He was impressed with her freelance articles and suggested she write a book. Steel later relocated to San Francisco, where she worked as a copywriter for Grey Advertising.

Writing the Manuscript: Steel's passion for writing began early, with her completing her first manuscript by the age of 19.

Acceptance: While working at a public-relations agency, Steel's freelance articles caught the attention of John Mack Carter, the editor of Ladies' Home Journal. He was the one who suggested she write a book.

Publication: Steel's debut novel, "Going Home," was published in 1973. This novel introduced readers to many of the themes that would become synonymous with her work, such as family issues and human relationships. The success of her fourth book, "The Promise," solidified her place in the literary world and San Francisco high society.

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Nora Roberts Author Success Story

Nora Roberts

Featured Author

Nora Roberts

Heist Thrillers

#1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including Shelter in Place, Year One, Come Sundown, and many more

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Nora Roberts is an acclaimed American author who has penned over 225 romance novels. She was the first author to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame.

Before Becoming an Author: Roberts was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, as the youngest of five children in a family with Irish ancestry. Growing up in a household of avid readers, books played a significant role in her life, though she didn't write as a child, except for school essays.

Writing the Manuscript: Nora Roberts began her writing journey during a blizzard in February 1979, finding solace in the process amidst the snow and limited supplies. Over the years, she has written numerous manuscripts, with many of her novels spending significant time on The New York Times Best Seller list. She often writes trilogies and has a unique approach to her writing process, focusing on one novel at a time and writing eight hours a day.

Rejections: She submitted her manuscripts to Harlequin, a leading romance novel publisher, but faced multiple rejections. One notable rejection mentioned that they already had their American writer, referring to Janet Dailey.

Acceptance: In 1980, a new publisher, Silhouette Books, was formed, aiming to publish manuscripts from American writers that Harlequin had previously rejected.

Publication: Roberts' first novel, "Irish Thoroughbred," was published in 1981 under the pseudonym Nora Roberts. She assumed that all romance authors used pen names, leading her to adopt a shortened version of her birth name, Eleanor Marie Robertson. Over the years, she wrote numerous novels for Silhouette and later for other publishers, solidifying her position as a leading romance novelist.

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The Tapestry of Literary Triumph: Concluding Thoughts

As we journeyed through the lives of these literary giants, one thing became abundantly clear: success is not a straight path but a tapestry woven from threads of determination, resilience, talent, and often, a touch of serendipity. Each author, with their unique story, reminds us that while the destination is undoubtedly sweet, it's the journey, with its highs and lows, that truly shapes the narrative. The world of bestsellers is not just about numbers and accolades; it's about the heartbeats behind every word, the sleepless nights, the rejections faced, and the unwavering belief in one's craft. As we close this chapter, let's carry forward not just the tales of their successes, but also the lessons embedded within, reminding us that every story, including our own, holds the potential to touch the world.

Jack Thomas
Jack Thomas

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