Bestselling author Dan Brown says his hit 'The Da Vinci Code' taught him a fundamental lesson about success
- Dan Brown's career took off in 2003 when his novel, "The Da Vinci Code," became an international phenomenon.
- He's written seven books and sold 250 million in total, making him one of the world's bestselling authors.
- He said the later success of early books that previously went ignored taught him the importance of both luck and relationships.
In May 2009, Dan Brown posed for red carpet photos alongside Tom Hanks and Ron Howard at the world premiere of "Angels & Demons."
By this point, Brown had already sold tens of millions of books and seen the the film version of his first major success, the 2003 thriller "The Da Vinci Code," become a No. 1 hit. But what was different this time was the fact that "Angels & Demons" was an adaptation of a book he had written nine years earlier, and one that initially was a flop."My first three books were, in fact, commercial failures, I guess you would call them," Brown said in an episode of Business Insider's podcast "This Is Success."
"I really didn't sell many copies. It was not until 'The Da Vinci Code' came out that I had really any success at all. Of course, the previous three novels, which had not sold, went on to sell, went on to No. 1 on the best-seller list. I had not changed a word."
Brown spent the '90s as a struggling musician, and an article he wrote for his own amusement for his high school alumni magazine happened to catch the eye of a literary agent. This agent reached out to him and convinced him to try writing a novel. It turned out that Brown had a knack for cranking out a thriller, and St. Martin's Press published "Digital Fortress" in 1998. It had all the making of a mass audience book - but no audience.
He didn't quit, but his following two thrillers, "Deception Point" and "Angels & Demons," also debuted with little fanfare. Brown then wrote "The Da Vinci Code," a sequel to "Angels & Demons" that weaved historical intrigue into a fantastical tale about the Holy Grail. He said that if that one registered the same way his previous three novels did, he was going to retire from writing and find a new job.
But "The Da Vinci Code" became a massive international bestseller, and launched a career that has established Brown as one of the world's top bestselling authors, with 250 books sold. The book inspired readers to read its prequel, as well as check out the other two novels in Brown's bibliography.
At the time, Brown believed that "The Da Vinci Code" was his best work yet, but it never even would have been published after two flops had he not had an agent who believed in him, and who could ensure that the right people read his work. And as "Angels & Demons" proved, there were millions of people out there who enjoyed the book, but they never even would have known about it if it weren't for all of the nonstop controversy and hype around its similarly themed and written sequel."That's an important message to everybody: that some of these products and ideas that you have early in your career that may flop actually may be assets later in your life," Brown said. "They may end up having an audience."
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