Rowling’s new book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, sold more than 3.3m copies in the US and Canada, publisher Scholastic announced last week. It is currently ranked number one among all books on Amazon.
The Harry Potter franchise has been extremely lucrative for Rowling. According to Forbes, she has earned approximately $1b over her career, making her the world’s richest author.
But things haven’t always worked out so well for her. Before publishing her first book, she was living a small apartment in the UK with her daughter, jobless and penniless. She had to rely on state benefits just to keep food on the table.
How did she rise from such humble beginnings to become one of the most successful authors of our time?
1. Have A Vision: Rowling always knew she was going to be a writer. According to her website, "As soon as I knew what writers were, I wanted to be one.” But it took more than wishful thinking. She started writing the Harry Potter series during a delayed train ride from Manchester to London. Rowling envisioned all of the characters and the story started to take shape. She spent the next five years outlining the plots for each book and wrote down the name, house and magical powers of every single student of Hogwarts. It’s that attention to detail that make the stories so great.
2. Accept Setbacks: Soon after she started writing, she was hit with the devastating loss of her mother and sank into a deep, dark depression and stopped writing. She then took a job teaching English in Portugal where she met her future husband. Her goal was to have the book completed by the time she got back to England. Not only did she not finish the book but her marriage failed and she had to go back to England with a newborn baby and no job.
3. Be Persistent: While on welfare and taking care of a small child, she would spend every free moment writing, often in coffee shops with her baby napping beside her. Still, it took her five long years to finish the book. Finally having completed the book, she now needed to get it published. The first 12 publishers that read it turned her down. Finally, Bloomsbury Publishing agreed to buy the rights to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for $4,000.
The book became an instant hit and soon caught the attention of U.S. publishers. A bidding war broke out, with Scholastic Publishing eventually purchasing the story for over $100k, the largest sum they had ever paid an author. It’s been almost 20 years since Harry Potter made his debut and he still hasn’t lost that magic touch.
J.K Rowling went from being an unemployed single mother, living on welfare, to become one of the best selling authors of all time. She was plagued by self-doubt and rejected countless times along the way but kept pushing on because she believed in herself. Not all of us will become famous authors but we can become the greatest version of ourselves by having a vision, accepting setbacks, being persistent and making a little magic along the way.