Author Turns Passion into a Career

Brian O'Sullivan

“Writing is like my refuge,” said Brian O’Sullivan, a successful self-published author from the San Francisco Bay Area. Being underrepresented as a Hollywood screenwriter did not stop O’Sullivan from leaving his mark on the world.  

He was a college student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, unsure of what career path he wanted to pursue and facing a slight distraction from the endless options of entertainment within the city. 

Brian said, “I often think, what if I started writing novels then? I am in my 40s now and, I mean, I could have 30 novels if I really started at 21.” 

As a college student myself, I found that having the passion to write is on an odd level with having the discipline to commit, especially through something so tedious as writing a book. Self-publishing is a reachable goal for college students or anyone who wants to get their voice out.

O’Sullivan’s failure to sell his screenplays did not discourage him from finding a way to do what he loves. 

He said, “I was probably one of a million. We had local bars we would go to and the waiters,  waitresses and the bartenders were all either trying to become actors or had written something.” 

“So, I decided to write a novel knowing that, you know, people buy novels. People don't buy screenplays. You have to get hired by a production company, Hollywood. There's a long, long process. And so I started writing my first book about seven or eight years ago. I finished it, but I didn't think it was quite good enough,” said Brian.

 O’Sullivan said he never published his first book, but his political disposition during the 2016 presidential campaign was a successful idea for a novel. 

O’Sullivan said, “When Trump started running, I started writing a novel and it kind of just went the way of becoming a political novel and stuff. I finished that one in 2016, and it was released then.”

“The Puppeteer,” is a political thriller about Frankie and Evie, two down-to-earth young adults, who, on a search to uncover a mystery, stumble across the dark side of politics, murder and mayhem. It was the start to O’Sullivan’s suspenseful novels, as his second novel, “The Patsy” was a sequel with the same hair-raising vibrato. 

He became his own publisher on Amazon, after a long battle to find a literary agent. 

O’Sullivan has a following of almost 100,000 followers on Twitter, and when I received a message from him promoting a book that I would read, I felt pretty good that he at least read my Twitter bio to come to this conclusion.  

“When I decided to self-publish, I knew that I was going to have to be my own marketer and promoter. I mean, I send out probably 200 of those direct messages a day with links to the novel. I've got like 50 ads right now through Amazon that if you go to Amazon, you're looking for books that are similar to mine. I have to pay per click, and then if people click on [it] and buy,  I get paid,” said O’Sullivan. 

Becoming a self-published author was a challenge for O’Sullivan, but knowing what his goals were led him to succeed in this competitive atmosphere. 

O’Sullivan said, “It's almost like running a full-on business; it's not just writing. So in that regard, I wish I had a publisher, but unless you're like Christian or Stephen King it is tough to get a publisher these days. and they actually take a high percentage. I get 70% of every sale from Amazon. You get like 10% of every sale if you have a publisher. Now, they can get you in The New York Times, at the front of Barnes and Noble and stuff. There are obviously advantages, but just per sale and stuff, you make more publishing.”

His determination showed through his five-star thriller novels on Amazon. 

“Now, I am about to finish up my fifth novel and I'm pretty successful for a self-published author. I'm not Stephen King, I'm not John Grisham ... but there's a million different ways to advertise for a first published author these days, obviously. Follow me on Twitter, and I have a big following,” he said.

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