Riding a Wave: How ‘Boys in the Boat’ Became a Best-seller

This article by Mary Ann Gwinn originally appeared on The Seattle Times on 7/13/14.

Here’s a secret that authors and publishers would give a lot to know: What makes a best-seller? Marketing campaigns? Social-media strategies? Media attention? Sales-pushing algorithms?

Redmond author Daniel James Brown has one answer, and it’s none of the above. Here’s the story of the success of one worthy book.

Brown is the author of the best-selling “The Boys in the Boat”(Penguin), the true saga of the University of Washington crew team, winners of an Olympic gold medal in 1936. This team of nine young athletes traveled to the Berlin Olympics, an event staged-managed by Hitler and the Nazis, and vanquished the Germans’ hand-picked crew. The book is in its fifth week as the No. 1 best-selling nonfiction paperback in the country, according to The New York Times. (It’s No. 5 on the best-seller list that covers all forms of nonfiction, both print and e-book.)

Improbably, no Seattle-based author had recognized the potential in the story until Brown, a California transplant, technical writer and author of two nonfiction books, made a visit to the elderly father of a neighbor in Redmond about six years ago. The neighbor, Judy Willman, had been reading one of Brown’s previous books to her dying father, Joe Rantz, and told Brown that it would thrill Joe if he would spend time with her dad.


Click here to read the full article on The Seattle Times.


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