I’d like to tell you that I had a master plan to be a best selling author, masterful writing partner and founder of Michael Levin Writing Experience, but that’s not exactly how things happened. In fact, it couldn’t be further from where I started.
It all started back at Columbia Law school, where I earned my J.D. back in 1985. I bought a suit and went to work as an attorney in Boston. There were only two problems – I didn’t like being a lawyer, and I kept failing the Bar.
After too many stops and starts, I decided to try my hand at what I loved and what I was really good at – writing. As my Columbia classmates were making partners at their firms, I was a starving writer. Through pure serendipity, around this same time, I met a man who quickly became my business mentor and one of my best friends to this day. A highly successful restaurant owner, he told me that he had mentored a lot of creative people and that “You can’t do your best creative work when you’re wondering about how you’re going to pay your rent or put food on the table.” I figured that if I didn’t try to make it as a writer now, I never would.
This man sat me down in a Dunkin’ Donuts (It’s Boston, of course) and showed me how to value my time in a business sense. He suggested that I offer private writing classes, because that would keep me involved with what I loved, writing, and would also bring in enough money to pay for my life so that I could keep on pursuing my dream of making it as a published author.
I rented space in a yoga studio and started hanging flyers in every store that would let me, while listening to Steven Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” on my Walkman. I initially offered two six-week classes at $150 per student. I filled the classes, taught them, and the two classes became four, and then six, and then eight, and I was now running a successful teaching business. The best news of all was that I still had time to write, and I wasn’t starving anymore.
In addition to teaching my own private classes, I was flying out to Southern California three times a year to teach writing classes at UCLA, and before long, I received an invitation to teach writing at New York University as well. My students began to ask me to consult with them on their manuscripts, and soon after, they also invited me to co-write or ghostwrite their books for them.
At the same time, my own writing career took off, and over the years, I have published a total of six novels, including three with Simon & Schuster and two with Putnam/Berkley, and nonfiction books with a variety of other publishers. My own work has been published by Simon & Schuster, Random House, St. Martin’s Press, Beacon Press, Regnery, and a variety of other top publishers. I have also written articles for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CBS News, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and a variety of other top outlets.
Along the way, Disney optioned and made one of my novels into an ABC Sunday Night TV movie, Model Behavior. My wife and I were on our honeymoon in Hawaii when the movie was being shot in Toronto, so we cut short our time in Hawaii, flew to Toronto, and became extras in the movie. We only appear for a couple of seconds, but it’s long enough for our kids to get a big kick out of seeing us. I’ve pitched the sharks on ABC’s Shark Tank, been a featured expert on the BBC and worked with Pat Summerall on a book about being coached by Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi in the 1958 NFL season. A personal highlight is when I edited Zig Ziglar’s final book and was asked to join him for lunch. I am one lucky guy.
In April 2018, I sold my ghostwriting business to start a boutique firm – Michael Levin Writing Experience. I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with industry pundits, celebrities, top athletes and other outstanding individuals and helping them achieve their dream of being a respected author. It continues to be a complete thrill and honor to craft books that deliver thought leadership status, create family legacies and maximize business success. Creating outstanding books for outstanding individuals never gets old.
To be continued.