It’s safe to say that the choice to be a writer isn't a guarantee that fame, fortune, and success will follow. Most of the time it’s quite the opposite, and while many aspire to be writers, not very many have that elusive natural gift. For those with an inspiration and flair, becoming a successful writer can happen almost overnight. For many others, it can take a lifetime. So the earlier in life you start putting pen to paper, the better.
To be sure, writing is hard. Very hard. That goes for more than just the actual process. It’s also a hard lifestyle, prone to struggle and failure. Even for the greatest writers--those who are heralded today as being close to genius--it can be a long-lasting world of rejection. The cliches of the struggling writer are well known in modern culture: alcoholism, dysfunctional relationships, criminal pasts, even suicide. Although the life of a writer may be tumultuous, melancholic and lonely, especially at the beginning of their careers, there is always a chance of making it big as they continue to hone their craft and never give up. Of course, it does’t hurt to have solid ideas and a style that appeals to people on a mass level. It also doesn’t hurt to have a publisher who believes in your work who isn’t afraid to use cold-hard cash to market it to the literate consumer. For some authors, all they need is for their work to be in the hands of the buying public, and the rest takes care of itself. For many, they're betting on it.
As much as history is filled with unforgiving tales of the writer’s life, there are still a great many authors who have risen to the occasion and made their mark on the world with their greatest works. Some worked odd, menial jobs to pay the rent, while others, still writing, offered their words for projects that were less than genuine or even morally ambiguous just to make a quick and relatively easy dollar. This is by no means unique to writers alone and certainly applies to all kinds of hard-working people who are pursuing their dreams. However, at the end of the day, writers consider themselves to be artists. With enough steadfast perseverance, luck, and a great deal of hard, tedious work, their creations can be recognized by millions of readers and critics. As a result, the money comes rolling in, and most didn’t have to sacrifice their artistic integrity in the process.
The following is a list of 5 extremely well-known authors who beat the odds in their own rags-to-richest stories. With their books about murderous, telepathic youth and wizard protagonists, they've become some of most successful and richest writers the world’s literary panoply has ever seen.
5 Charles Dickens - 1812 - 1870
4 George Orwell - 1903 - 1950
3 Stephen King - b. 1947
2 Sandra Cisneros - b. 1954
1 J.K. Rowling - b. 1965
Now the richest author in the world, J.K. Rowling started writing in cafes so she could escape her cold and dismal apartment. At one point, Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression and contemplated taking her own life. Poor, borderline homeless, and living off of Britain’s welfare system, Rowling worked tirelessly on her famous novel that would eventually become the biggest selling book series and movie franchise the world has ever seen. Fortunately, after publishing her book in the UK for 10,000 pounds, an American publishing house purchased the rights for another 100,000 dollars. From there, the infamous Harry Potter novels grew to be unstoppable and were made into several high-grossing feature films that have graced theaters and fans everywhere. Now, the once poor and struggling Rowling is worth approximately $900 million in 2013, making her the richest author in history.
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