JK Rowling is known worldwide for her literary success.
But the "Harry Potter" author wants fans to understand the importance of failure.
That's the basis of a new book by Rowling that hits shelves April 14, "Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination," in which she describes her failures and why they were important to her ultimate success.
Called the "closest thing to a self-help manual" she has written, "Very Good Lives" is based on the famous commencement speech Rowling delivered at Harvard University in 2008, which went on to earn more than 1 million views on YouTube. In the 70-page book, Rowling describes her rise from being a single mother on welfare to a multi-millionaire author whose books have sold 450 million worldwide and launched the most-successful film franchise in history.
Before she hit success with "Harry Potter," Rowling endured a dark period: an “exceptionally short-lived marriage,” unemployment, single motherhood, and poverty. I was “as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless," Rowling writes.
“That period of my life is a dark one and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy-tale resolution,” she writes.
That dark period, however, helped her realize an important truth in life: that failure is essential to success. It is a concept she's promoted before.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default," she once said.
Speaking about the book on NBC's Today Show, Rowling said she wished people talked more about her failures – and those of other famous people.
"I don't think we talk about failure enough," she said. "It would've really helped to have someone who had had a measure of success come say to me, 'You will fail. That's inevitable. It's what you do with it.'"
Enduring failure, she said, is a mark of one of the traits she values above others: courage. "I'm normally proudest of myself after I've done something that frightens me because I, you know, believe in courage, and I think that it's the virtue that ensures all the others, as Winston Churchill said."
Proceeds from the sale of "Very Good Lives" will benefit Lumos, an international children’s non-profit Rowling founded to end institutionalization of children around the world.
“Lumos is a spell I created in Harry Potter that brings light into a desperately dark and frightening place,” Rowling said. “At Lumos this is just what we do: we reveal the hidden children locked away behind closed doors in institutions and forgotten by the world.”