James Rollins, his $15 million deal, and its lesson for us

Not sure how many saw the news, but James Rollins received a $15 million multibook deal recently.

That’s amazing news in a number of respects.

One, you don’t hear of deals that big these days, especially for just four books.

Two, “there were not multiple bidders, and he was not jumping to another publishing house,” according to the article.

Three, there has been “a slump in print sales in recent years, (and) publishers have been more cautious about paying huge sums for book advances,” the article says.

But I think Rollins’s news has a pretty big lesson for us all.

And that lesson is persistence.

Rollins’s first contract was in 1999, and it was for $25,000.

Think about that. Fifteen years ago, he earned $25,000 on a book that probably took him several years to write.

But he didn’t give up. He didn’t allow that to deter him. And he kept writing.

And twenty books later, he just signed a contract that he claimed he’s still a little freaked out about.

It’s stories like this that keep me writing late at night and during lunch breaks. I am that guy who sometimes turns down the chance to go out with friends just so I can get in my writing or exercise. (Yes, exercise. For me, exercise fuels the dream and energy levels necessary to go that extra mile; to keep believing; to think I still have a solid chance and shouldn’t give up on the dream.)

So, if you’re still working toward your dream, keep pushing. It may take 15 years. It may take longer. But if you achieve that level you’re seeking, it’s going to be worth it. Maybe $15 million worth it. (And when that happens, people won’t think you’re nuts for turning down opportunities to go out!)

And now for a little preaching…

If you’ve dropped your dream or laid it aside for a while, pick it back up! Grab it with energy and zest! Smile and enjoy the work and ignore how daunting the journey or project or task may be.

Take it one page at a time. Or one step at a time. Or one day at a time.

Inch by inch, life is a cinch! Yard by yard, life is hard.

Let’s go members of Mitchell’s Militia! Let’s do what we were born to do, even if we never make it big.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. Please consider subscribing for email alerts of new posts.

 If you enjoy fast-paced books, you just might like my works. “Sold Out” tracks the life of a legendary Marine Sniper after a CIA unit decides to kill him for reasons of national security. “Little Man, and the Dixon County War” tells the uphill fight a young deputy faces after finding himself in the sights of a mighty cattle baron. And “Soldier On,” a short novel, follows the lives of several German soldiers in a depleted infantry company trying to make it through the final, miserable months of World War II.

16 thoughts on “James Rollins, his $15 million deal, and its lesson for us

    1. For realz! I’ve never read him, but I’m going to try his series (even though I’m not much into science-based books).

      Thanks for commenting, Ash! You keep it up and I’m officially naming you a member of the Mitchell Militia!


  1. Stan –
    He’s been one of my favorites for many years. I don’t even think of starting a SIGMA book late at night – way too many nights without near enough sleep.
    Real characters/real people populate his books and I still love it when the good guys win.
    Glad he’s making the big bucks.


      1. Stan – there’s some gee-whiz gizmos that get woven into the story, but they have always been background noise for me. Good character development from across the spectrum of American heritages. Makes for light – but interesting – reading. Also, the series tends to leave you hanging at the end, kind of like the old Saturday Matinee serials (what is he talking about?).


  2. I’ve not read Rollins but maybe it’s time I do. Next week I’ll be meeting Brad Thor at a book signing in Minneapolis and will have some questions for him.


          1. It was a small store, room for about 30 fans. Since I’d been there before, I knew what to expect. I got there an hour early, chatted with some other fans in the line, handed out some of my own book cards. Took a seat in the front row. When he started the Q&A, I was ready for a question I’d thought about on the 2hr drive to the event. (“Was it difficult to write female protagonists in ‘The Athena Project’ after writing several books with a male protagonist?”) I was the 2nd person to get called on for a question, only 3 more got in after me. When it came time for the actual book signing, our row was chosen first. I was #4. Already had my cards ready and my camera (his assistant took the pic). Also mentioned to him that I had recently bought the jacket he endorses from ScottEVest, the Alpha Jacket. (It’s truly an awesome garment, comes with an owner’s manual.) All told I was out the door 40min after the event began. He said he would be glad to take a look at my work. Hopefully it will pay off for me.


  3. …and don’t act like you’re something unique if it takes you fifteen years to achieve the dream! The standard success story in America (and probably the world) is to stick it out and keep your ear to the pavement and thumb to the grindstone and nose to your ear and wake up one morning with the kids all over the place and your wife beside you and realize you’ve made it! On a serious note, success is almost never overnight. James Rollins story is awesome, but not necessarily unique, as success stories go. Success is cooked in a crock pot, not a microwave. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t think you’re a failure if it takes a long time. The overnight success stories always make the news because they’re sensational and more exciting to talk about than the guy who just put it his hours and plugged away working those late nights and Saturdays and gave up all the things that other people can’t live without, the guy who failed and failed and failed and then didn’t, and then got really really good at the thing that worked and loved it and just never quit…that guy isn’t as sexy as the guy who gets in the news because he got lucky out of the gate. Good for that guy, but that’s like 1% of 1% of 1%. Keep at it. I think it was the Millionaire Next Door guys who quoted some success story guy as saying “don’t chase the money, don’t look for the job that makes the most bucks. Find something you like to do, and become awesome at it! Be the best out there at that thing, the money will find you.” That guy was a decamillionaire but it took him like 30 years to do it. And don’t define success by money. Thus endeth the lesson. By the way I do typically enjoy Stan’s blog posts even if I don’t always add awesome commentary like this one.


    1. My main man and brother in arms, SSGT Kovach. (Or is it Gunny these days?!) And to think I used to call you Boot!

      You are oh so right about persistence and the length of time required. And I had forgotten about the crock pot versus microwave analogy. (Had heard that probably five years ago, filed it away, and then forgotten it… Go figure.)

      Anyway, the crock pot is just never as fun, especially for our impatient society.

      Much better to buy some six-week plan… Or some “exercise ten minutes a day, three days a week” plan…

      I have no idea why we all continually fall for such crap, but even I will sometimes find myself watching some promo for some new exercise plan that’s supposed to save you time and be easier.

      It’s all crap. The old ways are the right ways, on most things.

      Semper Fi, brother. Drop me a line if I can ever be of assistance!


  4. One page at a time – that’s a good motto.. whether we get to $15 million or not, all about the journey in the end, right? Well, a million or two wouldn’t hurt, haha!


    1. When I saw this comment today — ahem, a few days late, Ms Letizia! (aren’t you supposed to be stalking me?!) — my first though was, “Letizia, you’re a genius! Why didn’t I think of one page at a time, instead of one step at a time.”

      Then I clicked on my post and saw what I had written and said, “Oh, I did say that.”

      Which I guess boosted my ego, but such a late reply from you kind of hurt that! lol (J/K!)

      Dang it, Letizia! You’re my ENTIRE New York marketing bureau. No pressure, but you’ve got to stay on it! My entire future rests on your shoulders! hah! (Don’t make me talk to Britt…)


Comments are always welcome!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s