Following His Dreams To New York City

Every now and again, people surprise me.  One of the greatest feelings is when you want to laugh and cry at the same time.  For years I’ve had the most wonderful tenant.  Timothy, was always courteous and kind, and never more than 10 days late on rent.  When he told me in January of his plans to move back East, he did so in a hand written letter that was so kind.

Saddened by his impending departure, I wrote a post asking a basic question, “Is It Better to Rent To Males or Females?” to help deal with the preparation ahead.  Most of you mentioned you prefer females, however all of the past five tenants have been males.


I hosted four open houses altogether, and oddly enough, 75% of the new applicants were female this time around.  During the first open house, I noticed Timothy’s wall hung a framed rejection letter by a publisher.  “Thanks and we wish you the best of luck”, it said.  Poor Timothy, he was working in a relatively low paying non-profit job that he didn’t like, and he wanted to be a writer.

During the final walk through with Timothy, we began talking about his future plans.  I was somewhat expecting him to say that he was just quitting his job to move back East and live with his parents in this economy.  Instead, he told me he found a new job!  He was very modest at first, and mentioned that a publisher hired him to “do some things here and there.”  When I politely asked him to share more, he mentioned Random House hired him!  Given he was so modest, I was expecting him to say that he was going to work as an literary apprentice or something of that nature.  Instead, he said they signed him to a book deal!

Timothy began talking about how he spent the past year and a half writing two manuscripts and getting 32 agent rejection letters all the while working 50 hours a week at his day job.  At last he found an agent, and after a dozen more publisher rejections he finally landed the big one.  They flew him out to New York, took him out to Jean George’s, and slyly slid over a contract after the lemon meringue pie was served!  The contract was not for just one book, but for three books over six years!

I was overjoyed with the news and actually started to tear up.  Timothy was a good person, and a dream tenant.  Why must you leave me!  No, no, I was just overjoyed for him.  Furthermore, he wasn’t falling into the underemployed camp as I had initially feared.  Timothy persevered through years of rejection, wrote a manuscript that the biggest publishing house in the world deems noteworthy, and signed not only a book deal, but a multi-book, multi-year book deal!


Can you imagine writing a full 300-page manuscript and getting rejected by 32 different agents?  Surely most would give up.  Not Timothy.  After all the denials, he wrote a new 300-page manuscript and finally found someone who believed in him.  His advocate sold him to the very top of the publishing universe when no one else cared.  In my tiny rental lived a 26 year old writer who is fulfilling his dreams.  Anything is possible!

Readers, any out of the blue success stories you’d like to share about yourself or others you know?  Do you have the persistence to keep on going?

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!



Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. david M says


    No stories from me. Just wanted to thank you for writing such an inspirational blog entry.

    Any chance you know the name of the book? Would love to know it so that I could possibly (if I remembered) buy it.

    Again THANKS,


    • says

      No prob David. He was such an inspiration to me and I am so happy for him. I think his first book is being edited now. These things take a while. Hope it’s a big success!

  2. says

    Stories like this are so encouraging. Your tenant’s success is especially notable considering today’s really tough publishing climate.

    Also a lover of the out of the blue success stories, I came across another story about a 16 year old Mexican who jumped the border into California and, totally on his own merits, managed to zoom to the top of the wine world:

  3. says

    He certainly beat the odds! Since tomorrow is Mother’s Day, I will share an inspiring story about my Mother. She came to this country in 1928, she could not speak English, and no money or credit. She married my father and became pregnant with my older brother soon thereafter. My father had a dry goods business in New York City. It was doing good enough to get married, but it was not flourishing. In 1929, she opens a needlecraft store. The suppliers believed in her and extended credit for 90 days, same as cash. In the same year, my parents had a house built in the Bronx with a mortgage of $85 per month. The average wage at the time was $20 per week. She owned the store for twenty-seven years. My Mother never knew she was not supposed to do these things. She was determined to succeed and did!
    This year I have embraced the motto, “Impossible is just an opinion”. I embraced this motto to honor my Mother’s accomplishments and I have made it my own.

    • says

      Tenancity is indeed so, SO important when doing anything. I think if people didn’t give up too soon… there would be a lot more joy and success.

      Do anything right for 5 years in a row, there’s no doubt one can do well!

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing that Sam. It was a very inspiring read and nice way to catch up on my RSS feed this Saturday morning. Stories like that give us all hope for a bright future that lies ahead.

  5. says

    Sam, I’m so happy for Timothy! I have a ~ 320 page novel right now that is just about ready for publishing. I’ve been rejected about 30 times so far with my queries to literary agents, so I can understand that difficulty he must have faced. That he got signed by a publisher is just sweeeeeeet.

    Thanks for sharing this story Sam. If I ever get signed by a publisher, I’ll be sure to let you know.

      • says

        Ditto. I was told one should write like 3-4 chapters, so as to be long enough to provide some meat to agents/publishers, but short enough so that it can be edited and altered to an agent/publisher’s liking. Love to hear your thoughts!

        • says

          The main website that I have found helpful for locating literary agents and publishers is:

          Once you sign up, that website has a reasonable search and a large enough database to get your exposure to enough people. It hasn’t helped me land a deal yet – so far, I’ve been rejected about 30 times. But it has at least allowed me contact.

          The idea for the book first occurred in 2000. I wrote about 20 pages and stopped. About 9 years later, my desire to complete the book was greater than any force that could stop me and I completed the remaining 300 pages or so in about six months. It was a fury of writing for me and the quality needed some work.

          But I got the basic idea for the story done and my wife and I printed it and bound it in a notebook.

          The past two years have been major edit and polish mode. Only a couple more chapters remain, along with a final edit, and the book will be ready in my eyes. I’ll pursue agents and publishers again at that point. If I don’t have any luck by the end of the year, I will self publish.

          In hindsight, it may have been better to come up with an outline and do 3 or 4 chapters. If my story ends up being too far from what publishers want, then I may have written too many extra pages. So that is something I will think about for another book.

          I’m going to write a blog post about this. Hearing about Timothy is a bright spot in this journey for me.

  6. says

    Love this story – Congratulations to Timothy! I absolutely think that perseverence is the key to success. My motto is “never give up”.

  7. says

    Sam, Did you write this article for me? I’m working on my book proposal to send to publishers and it’s very stressful. This story was inspiring. Thanks !

  8. says

    Good for him. Makes me want to write up a query letter and send it out to a few hundred agents for my book. But then again, I don’t want to be a writer per sé, especially one that has to produce a certain number of books within a certain time frame. I’ve been working on my book, How We Prevent Wealth, for almost a year now. Perfection can’t be rushed. :)

    • says

      If all I wanted to be was I writer, I would LOVE, LOVE to have Random house lock me in for 6 years and 3 books! That would be a dream come true! After that, who knows what other opportunities there would be!

      • says

        I agree. The key is to LOVE, LOVE, to be a writer. But what happens when you, as the writer, are not moving fast enough for them? I have no idea, but I’d imagine that the loving job will quickly become very stressful. What do I know, though, I don’t have a published book from a publishing giant. I do, however, try to look at the good and bad of every situation. Once I drop by POD book at the end of this month, who knows, maybe a literary agent will find it in a thrift store somewhere and will decide to give me a call.

  9. Mike Hunt says

    My Father came to this country in the late 60’s as an immigrant with $40 in his pocket and no other safety nets. He came over to do his PhD at Brown university and had a modest student scholarship. My mother came over a year later (they were just married before he had to leave) and I was born 4 years later, 1 year before he got his PhD.

    He had a 28 year career in an a major Fortune 500 and received the highest level Technical role in the company (only 2 in a company of 40,000 people) and today is worth $2.5 million.

    He is still overly frugal but has enough to ensure he and my mother are well taken care of.


  10. gem says

    That’s a common story with writers, actually, a ton of rejections, struggling through an entire manuscript and then scrapping it for another, constant uphill struggles. Except Snooki. She was a natural.

  11. says

    Great story of perseverance. The story that doesn’t get told is when the same guy continues to be rejected and never gets a break. Next time you’re out to dinner in LA, ask every server about their acting aspirations and probably half of them are there solely because they want to be actors and they’re waiting tables to make ends meet. Such is life. High risk/high reward careers can really pay off for a select few – but the success stories tend to be the ones that make the subject of a book, an Oprah appearance or a blog post.

  12. says

    How wonderful for Timothy! It pays to persistent. It’s funny that you mentioned he was never more than 10 days late with rent, here in LA that would equate to an eviction. ;)

    • says

      Oh wow! I guess I just had a soft spot for him bc he worked at a non-profit to help kids stay off the streets. That’s a very honorable thing to do and I wanted to support him as much as possible.

  13. says

    I always love to read this inspirational stories that are highly realistic. There’s too much cheerleading out there. I always enjoy a piece that demonstrates failure, resiliency, and determination. Hopefully one day you’ll be writing about me (in a positive way if possible lol).

  14. says

    Very inspirational. Just goes to show that even those of us who succeed go through failure and rejection, and sometimes we just need to push to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for sharing his story!

  15. says

    What a great story!! :) I’m sorry your great tenant has to leave, but I’m sure you’ll find someone just at good to fill his place.

    I’m happy to hear Timothy finally is achieving his dreams. Persistence does eventually pay off. May I ask what he’s writing about?

  16. says

    A couple of uses for rejection letters:
    I talked with one writer who papered his downstairs bathroom with them. (He is now published, and looking at all those “no thanks” letters makes him grin.)
    Another writer told me he saved up the truly discouraging ones (“Don’t quit your day job” stuff) and every time he got a chain letter, he’d put that editor’s name/address on the list. Evil. But funny.
    Oh, and a friend of mine from Alaska, who is now published and on the NYT best-seller list, told me one of her original agent queries came back something like this: “Your idea is very intriguing and your outline is remarkable. But I represent only U.S. authors.” My friend decided not to write back and say, “Um, I *am* a U.S. author,” because she didn’t want someone that clueless representing her.
    Congratulations to Timothy. I hope you will post the title once it’s released.

  17. says

    take most successful entrepreneurs for that matter – entrepreneurship can be risky, and most fail numerous times before getting right back up and marching on. you are very right when you say anything is possible, especially in our land of dreams

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