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Variety's Women's Impact Report: J.K. Rowling

Variety's Women's Impact Report: J.K. Rowling


Every year, Variety issues their Women's Impact Report in which they highlight women in the entertainment industry that they think deserve some praise. From industry executives (like United Artists bigwig Paula Wagner) to household names (like Angelina Jolie), the list spotlights some strong, smart, intriguing ladies.

For the next few Wednesdays I'll focus on some of the women who I find particularly noteworthy as well. I've already sung the praises of filmmaker Adrienne Shelly and Tina Fey, and today I'm turning my attention to one of the world's most beloved authors: J.K. Rowling.

Rowling is responsible for bringing Harry Potter into the world, which turned out not only to have a far-reaching effect on readers of all ages, but also proved financially lucrative.

As her Variety profile points out:

J.K. Rowling's ability to astound in the marketplace has become a given. Barnes & Noble reported pre-orders for the new book at 1.2 million in the U.S., the largest in the chain's history. In its first 24 hours on sale, 8.3 million copies were purchased, topping the previous record (also held by Rowling).

The author already had sold more than 325 million books worldwide and is, according to Forbes magazine, one of just five self-made female billionaires — and the first billionaire author.

Getting to this place of success, however, is truly an inspiring story. To find out what I mean, read more

As a single mother on welfare, Rowling wrote her first novel whenever she could get her small daughter, Jessica, to sleep. She obtained a literary agent in 1995 who sent the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to twelve publishing houses, all of whom rejected it. After a year, a small publisher decided to print a run of 1,000 copies of the book, and then in 1998 Scholastic distributed it in the U.S. with the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. From there, everything started to snowball — what with all the awards and outstanding sales and films. Now, of course, the the seventh and final installment of the Harry Potter series has been printed and devoured by obsessed fans everywhere, and Rowling is quite a wealthy lady.

The end of Harry Potter is certainly not the end of J.K. Rowling, however. Rowling told Variety what's next on her agenda: "A thank-you tour in October, where she'll visit schools in New York, Los Angeles and New Orleans; and a new children's book, a 'political fairy story' for readers younger than her usual Harry Potter fans."

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