Hobe Sound Resident Michael Tougias Discusses His Writing Career

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Photography by Lindsey Potter

 

Michael Tougias never imagined he would become a published writer—let alone a New York Times bestselling author. Born in Massachusetts, Tougias spent the majority of his early career in the business world. As an escape from his every day, he began moonlighting as a writer—and then he got his big break.

“I made writing a high priority,” he says. “With Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do, it became a national bestseller and enabled me to start writing part-time. Then, The Finest Hours did so well that it became a movie and I was able to go full-time.”

Tougias, who resides in Hobe Sound, has since authored and co-authored 29 books, with more in the works. Among his bestsellers are The Finest Hours, which was transformed into a Disney Motion Picture in January 2016, as well as Fatal ForecastOverboard!King Philip’s War, and There’s A Porcupine In My Outhouse: The Vermont Misadventures of a Mountain Man Wannabe. Tougias also lectures across the country on each of his books, offering leadership and inspirational programs for business groups and organizations.

This month, Tougias will visit the Stuart Library to discuss Above & Beyond: John F. Kennedy and America’s Most Dangerous Cold War Spy Mission. The nonfiction book, which was released in 2018, brings readers back to 1962, chronicling the Cuban Missile Crisis and the days that followed.

What’s your secret to becoming a successful writer, especially as a second career?

The first would be persistence. Time and time again, that has served me well. For example, Ten Hours Until Dawn was rejected by 35 publishers. Now, 15 years after I landed a publisher, it’s still available in print. I didn’t let those 35 rejections stop me. Writing is very subjective. You just have to find the right fit. As far as the writing goes, I’m not a believer that you have to pump out so many words per day. Some days I don’t write at all.

What’s next for you?

I’m taking my adult books and adapting them to young readers. It’s been a pleasant surprise to see how well received they’ve been. While I’m supposed to be semi-retired, I worked so hard to get to a certain point [that] I don’t want it to end. Writing is a great way to keep my mind fully engaged. My dream of becoming a full-time writer is still very much ingrained in me. I’ll be writing until I can’t anymore.

What are your tips on landing a book deal?

I really think people don’t put enough time into the proposal. Many publishing houses won’t get beyond your proposal—make it memorable. Put yourself in the shoes of the editor. What makes your book different? That’s often what I talk about in my speaking engagements, finding true adventure stories that readers can relate to.

 

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