"Above all, a query letter is a sales pitch and it is the single most important page an unpublished writer will ever write. It's the first impression and will either open the door or close it. It's that important, so don't mess it up. Mine took 17 drafts and two weeks to write." -- Nicholas Sparks
Nicholas Charles Sparks (born December 31, 1965) is an internationally-bestselling American novelist and screenwriter. He has 16 published novels, with themes that include Christian faith, love, tragedy and fate. Six have been adapted to film, including Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember,The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John and The Last Song, released on March 31, 2010. Two other books are in the process of being made into films; True Believer is expected to be released in 2011; The Lucky One is expected to be released in 2012.
"A typical agent in New York gets 400 query letters a month. Of those, they might ask to read 3-4 manuscripts, and of those, they might ask to represent 1.""All characters come from people I know, but after the initial inspiration, I tend to modify the characters so they fit with the story.""Because publishing is becoming more business-oriented each day with more examination of the bottom line, it's harder to break out than ever.""By reading a lot of novels in a variety of genres, and asking questions, it's possible to learn how things are done - the mechanics of writing, so to speak - and which genres and authors excel in various areas.""Focus in on the genre you want to write, and read books in that genre. A LOT of books by a variety of authors. And read with questions in your mind.""I do not use profanity in my novels. My characters all go to church.""I don't know that love changes. People change. Circumstances change.""I have certain moral parameters that I do not cross in writing; I don't write about adultery or kids having premarital sex.""I read over a hundred books a year and have done so since I was fifteen years old, and every book I've read has taught me something.""I suppose I'm most influenced by any good, commercial writer. I learn from everyone.""I suppose more than anything, it's the way of life in this part of the country that influences my writing. In Eastern North Carolina, with the exception of Wilmington, most people live in small towns.""I think that enduring, committed love between a married couple, along with raising children, is the most noble act anyone can aspire to. It is not written about very much.""I think that men know how to romance a woman and most do it well, at least for a time, otherwise women wouldn't marry them. The problem is that most of them begin to rest on their laurels.""I write 2,000 words a day when I write. It sometimes takes three hours, it sometimes takes five hours.""I'll admit that it's not easy to get an agent, but becoming successful in anything requires perseverance.""I'm writing a new love story, set in eastern North Carolina. Surprise, surprise, huh?""In all love stories the theme is love and tragedy, so by writing these types of stories, I have to include tragedy.""Loving once and only once is possible - anything is possible.""My wife, my family, my friends - they've all taught me things about love and what that emotion really means. In a nutshell, loving someone is about giving, not receiving.""None of my characters are rich or famous, and the situations they find themselves in could happen to anyone.""Over time, quality work will lead to an audience for your work.""Publishing is a business. Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars.""Rekindled love is generally short-term.""Romance is thinking about your significant other, when you are supposed to be thinking about something else.""Spreading the news is your duty as a Christian, and there are many ways to do this.""The first thing I did when I sold my book was buy a new wedding ring for my wife and asked her to marry me all over again.""There's always pressure, a great deal of pressure, when writing, since my first books were so successful.""To be quite honest, I've been very blessed when I've worked with Hollywood. The studios that have purchased my work to be adapted to film have really liked the work and wanted to stay as close as they could to what the book was.""What's the challenge in writing a novel that few people will read? I'm more than happy writing what I do and have no plans to change that.""Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It's one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period."
Nicholas Sparks was born on December 31, 1965, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Patrick Michael Sparks, a professor, and Jill Emma Marie (née Thoene) Sparks, a homemaker and optometrist's assistant. He was the middle of three children, with an older brother Michael Earl "Micah" Sparks (1964—) and a younger sister, Danielle "Dana" Sparks (1966—2000), who died at the age of 33. Sparks has said that she is the inspiration for the main character in his novel A Walk to Remember.
Sparks was raised as a Roman Catholic and is of German, Czech, English and Irish ancestry.
His father was pursuing graduate studies, and the family moved a great deal, so by the time Sparks was 8, he had lived in Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Grand Island, Nebraska. In 1974 his family settled in Fair Oaks, California, and remained there through Nicholas's high school days. He graduated in 1984 as valedictorian from Bella Vista High School, then enrolling at the University of Notre Dame, having received a full track and field scholarship. In his freshman year, his team set a record for the 4 x 800 relay. Sparks majored in business finance and graduated with honors in 1988. He also met his future wife that year, Cathy Cote from New Hampshire, while they were both on spring break. They married on July 22, 1989 and moved to Sacramento, California.
While still in school in 1985, Sparks had penned his first (never published) novel, The Passing, while home for the summer between freshman and sophomore years at Notre Dame. He wrote another novel in 1989, also unpublished, The Royal Murders.
After college, Sparks sought work with publishers or to attend law school, but was rejected in both attempts. He then spent the next three years trying other careers, including real estate appraisal, waiting tables, selling dental products by phone and starting his own manufacturing business.
In 1990, Sparks co-wrote with Billy Mills Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding. The book was published by Feather Publishing, Random House, and Hay House. Sales for this book approximated 50,000 copies in its first year after release.
In 1992, Sparks began selling pharmaceuticals and in 1993 was transferred to Greenville, SC. It was there that he wrote another novel in his spare time, The Notebook. Two years later, he was discovered by literary agent Theresa Park, who picked The Notebook out of her agency's slush pile, liked it, and offered to represent him. In October 1995, Park secured a $1 million advance for The Notebook from Time Warner Book Group. The novel was published in October 1996 and made the New York Times best-seller list in its first week of release.
With the success of his first novel, he moved to New Bern, NC. After his first publishing success, he wrote several international bestsellers. Six of his novels have been made into films: Message in a Bottle (1999), A Walk to Remember (2002), The Notebook (2004), Nights in Rodanthe (2008), Dear John (2010), and The Last Song (2010). The film rights for The Lucky One have been sold to Warner Bros. with Douglas McGrath attached to direct the film. The movie will be produced by Denise DiNovi who has previously brought three other Sparks novels to the cinema; Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, and Nights in Rodanthe.
According to his website, he has also the sold screenplay adaptations of True Believer and At First Sight. His latest screenplay turned novel, The Last Song, has been turned into a film produced by Offspring Entertainment for Touchstone Pictures featuring Miley Cyrus.
Sparks began his 16th novel, Safe Haven, on February 17, 2010, and it was published on September 14, 2010. Film producers asked Sparks on August 4th for rights to release a movie adaptation of this new novel and the deal was closed the next day.
Sparks resides in New Bern, North Carolina with his family, wife Cathy and children, Miles, Ryan, Landon and twin daughters, Lexie and Savannah.
Sparks has donated a track to New Bern High School and contributes to local and national charities.He contributes to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame by funding scholarships, internships and annual fellowship. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly reported that Sparks and his wife had donated "close to $10 million" to start a Christian private school, The Epiphany School, which emphasizes travel and life long learning.