What J.K. Rowling’s Persistence Can Teach You About Success

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is one of the most well-known children’s books ever.

The novelist-turned-billionaire’s story is the epitome of “inspirational.” Her mother, who J.K. was very close to, lost her on-going battle with Multiple Sclerosis in 1990. Simultaneously, due to trouble at home, Rowling cut off communication with her father.

Going through one of the most trying periods in her life, Rowling was living on the edge of poverty with a one-year-old daughter to support, divorced from her husband of three years, and jobless.

But Rowling credits her failure, describing it as “liberating.” With nothing left to lose, Rowling put all her focus into Harry Potter.

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

Unable to get the idea out of her head, Rowling would write in cafés while taking her infant daughter out for walks in order to better allow her to fall asleep.

When Rowling completed Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, she was denied by 7 publications.

Bloomsbury Publishing’s chairman took Rowling’s first chapter home, and had his 8-year-old daughter, Alice Newton, read it. Alice enjoyed the chapter so much that she asked for the subsequent chapters. Rowling was only given a £1,500 advance, and a suggestion that she continue to work, since she wouldn’t be making much from children’s books.

But the magic didn’t stop there.

Harry Potter continued to gain world-wide notability, winning several awards and prizes, but Rowling’s stroke of success came in 1998, when Scholastic Inc. decided they wanted to publish the novel in the United States for $105,000. By her third novel, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, she had already won her third consecutive Smarties Prize.

Her fourth novel, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released both in the US and the UK, surpassing expected sales in both countries, selling over 350,000 copies on the first day.

Today, Rowling’s Harry Potter novels have sold over 450 million copies worldwide. Warner Brothers Studios purchased the rights for the first four novels, eventually turning all 7 into films. Harry Potter also has it’s own theme park in Universal Orlando.

Rowling has become the first person to become a billionaire off her novels. Rowling’s success teaches us a very important lesson in life, and it’s the oldest lesson in the book;

If you’re passionate about it, never give up.

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Julia Ismail

Julia likes Nickelback & is unapologetic about it.