Tom Clancy Has a Surprising Connection to the Insurance Industry

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We have this impression that authors simply sit down, write a great book and make millions of dollars. The truth is that writing a single book takes time and very few authors hit the bestseller list; especially on their first try.
It usually takes years and multiple books before an author can make any real money from their writing. Unless they’re lucky, most authors find that the only way they can make ends meet is by working in another profession.
Writing is usually a hobby while they work another full-time job that pays for rent, car insurance, groceries, and other expenses. Stephen King and Rick Riordan taught while they waited for their royalties. Herman Melville was a ship inspector. Tom Clancy was in the insurance industry.
Close view of two people in an office working together to solve a problem.
Tom Clancy tried his hand at insurance before writing books full time.

Tom Clancy before he became an author

Originally, young Tom Clancy planned to join the military, which helps explain why most of his books involve various branches of the military. Writing provided him with the means to vicariously live out the life he planned on.
There was a brief period when Clancy was a member of the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps. However, he was ineligible to serve due to extreme nearsightedness.
Clancy decided to pursue writing, but had a stint in different fields along the way. He landed a job as an insurance agent after graduating with a degree in English Literature, according to Sun Signs. The firm was based out of Connecticut and owned by Clancy’s grandfather-in-law.

From selling insurance to international bestselling author

It turned out that selling insurance was a good fit for Clancy. Along with his wife, who worked as a nurse, the duo earned enough money to support their growing family.
Clancy’s work as an insurance agent probably allowed plenty of contact with people who shared some truly outrageous stories. Perhaps this would give him ideas for his characters.
Best of all, he had enough time and resources to dedicate to honing his career as a writer. Clancy was still working as an insurance agent when his first book, The Hunt for Red October, hit the bestseller list. While many are familiar with both the book and the movie, few know that the tale was inspired by a true story.

Tom Clancy’s first best seller: ‘The Hunt for Red October’

War History Online reported that in November 1975, a mutiny took place aboard a Soviet Burevestnik-class anti-submarine frigate. The frigate’s Capitan was a strong supporter of the October Revolution. He attempted to broadcast a speech he’d written that was designed to encourage people to take a stance against their government.
Clancy did an excellent job taking the bare bones of the historical moment and turning it into a rousing and believable work of fiction. It’s amazing to think that if he hadn’t been selling insurance, he might not have had the time, money, or energy needed to sit down and write the book that launched his career.
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