How I Became an Overnight Success


Thaddeus and I came on the scene of the great American legal novel seven months ago. Last month we sold over 5,500 books and it's climbing every day.

An overnight success story?

On some of the blogs I read, new writers who have written a book or two often wonder why they're not selling.

I think I know why. They don't read.

How dare I, an overnight success, say that!

Sit back and let me tell you about overnight success. I began my creative writing career in 1967, my sophomore year in college. This was before most writers writing today were even born. I kept writing until 2014, when I self-published my first book, The Defendants. During that time I wrote five novels before The Defendants, got an agent, submitted my novels to the great New York City gatekeepers, and they turned me down. My novels were lacking this or that or the topic wasn't one they thought they could sell and etc etc etc. Always some reason. So what did I do? I kept on writing. Short stories. Novels. Poetry.

Know what else I did?

I learned to read. That's right, I learned to read my own writing and began to see it for what it was. Much of it was muddy, didn't say what i thought it said, meandered, was full of itself–and on and on. So I began the task of learning how to write all over again.

I wrote the first paragraph to a new novel and spent three days with that paragraph trying to understand what I'd said. I realized, again, that I hadn't said what I was trying to say. There was too damn much music in my writing that wasn't my own music. I was sounding too much like this guy or that gal or being something I wasn't.

How did I solve this?

Simple. I accepted myself and my own style. I started writing what I was thinking. Not trying to skirt around it in a literary fashion as they teach you in college when they ask, What is the writer actually saying here? I don't like that kind of crap, but I was doing it. So I decided to write from the heart. If I felt something or believed something, then Bang! it went on the page.

Finally I had it. I was the one to tell the story, in my own best way.

I called the story Thaddeus and the rest is–is becoming–history.

5,500 last month. And counting.

Overnight success.

Jonathan Schuler