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First Book Successes Written By People Who Weren't Authors

Updated November 6, 2017 8.5k views14 items
Apparently anyone can write a bestselling novel. Sometimes all it takes is passion, or encouragement, or a desire to tell a certain story, or even just an inspired dream. Some authors on this list started later in life, others gained famed at a young age, but all of them had successful first novels right out of the gate that launched their careers. All of them didn't intend to be authors, but the world is lucky that they told their stories.  
  • First Book: A Time to Kill

    John Grisham never dreamed of being a writer. The popular novelist, whose hard-boiled legal thrillers often top the bestsellers list, unsurprisingly started off as lawyer. One day, after hearing the testimony of a young rape victim, Grisham decided to write his own story, one that imagined the rape victim's father murdering the assailants. He got up everyday at 5 am so he could squeeze time into his busy schedule to devote time to his book idea. Soon he had published his very first book, 
    A Time To Kill. The day after he finished that story, he started work on his second. Then he just never stopped writing.

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  • First Book: The Joy of Cooking

    There are thousands of cookbooks out there, but only one 
    The Joy of Cooking. Irma Rombauer's original cookbook has influenced almost every cookbook since its initial release in 1931. Rombauer didn't want to be an author, she just wanted to share her recipes with the world, but her helpful advice and personal prose helped make her recipes accessible to everyone. She didn't publish the book until she was in her fifties, but thank goodness she did. Cooking wouldn't be the same without her landmark book.
  • First Book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

    Although she wrote a bestselling book, Rebecca Skloot's interests leaned more toward science than it did creative writing. She stumbled into a creative writing course in order to fulfill credits and was encouraged to combine her knack for writing and her scientific mind. She was inspired by one of her teachers, who gave her the name Henrietta Lacks. Intrigued, Skloot did research on Lacks and even though her contributions to science were incredible, her story had never been told before. Skloot set out to change that and ended up with a powerful piece of literature.
  • First Book: The Andromeda Strain

    You would think being a full-time medical student wouldn't grant you a lot of free time, especially not enough to write a best-seller. Though that's exactly what happened with famed writer Michael Crichton. He completed his first book, 
    The Andromeda Strain, while still in Harvard medical school, but it was enough to shoot Crichton to worldwide fame. Earning his doctorate first, then switching to writing helped Crichton create fantastical adventures grounded in real-world science and medicine.

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