Christopher Rosow couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The biggest radio host in the country was raving about his new book, recommending the author and directing listeners where to purchase. “I could not stop reading the book,” conservative host Rush Limbaugh told millions of listeners on May 14. “It got to be about 1:30 in the morning and I had to put it down and I couldn’t quit.”
It was publicity an established author dreams of, much less someone releasing a self-published two-book series — False Assurances and Threat Bias. A 48-year-old author who lives and grew up in Southport, Rosow saw his books go from about 105,000th on Amazon to Nos. 1 and 6 among ebooks in the next 24 hours, and first and second on Apple Books. The print versions also reached Nos. 4 and 7 among print books, and the Wall Street Journal listed False Assurances in the top spot for the week of May 17 among ebooks.
It seemed so unlikely for Rosow, the owner of a design and construction company. In 2017, feeling overworked and stressed out, Rosow began writing to distract himself from the daily grind of running a business. He didn’t get far, but had the start of a story. After closing the construction side of the business in 2018, Rosow had more time for his side project. “One of the things I picked up was writing the first book,” he says. “By early 2019 I had written a manuscript. I never expected it to go anywhere, really, but it was fun.”
What sets the novels apart from other suspense thrillers? Protagonist Ben Porter, who works for the FBI, is the anti-James Bond. A bit overweight and short, he’s more George Costanza than Jack Ryan. “When I read all these books, they’re all kind of the stereotypical secret agent guy,” Rosow says. “I wanted to write the everyman character who is relatable and has the confidence issues I think we all have. But he keeps his eyes open and is passionate about what he does.”
There were some twists and turns to Limbaugh’s blessing. Rosow shares a love of books with his father, who lives in Florida. An acquaintance of James Patterson, his father gave the best-selling author a copy. Patterson enjoyed False Assurances and called Rosow with some recommendations. He made the improvements and sent the manuscript to publishers in New York.
Patterson’s encouragement motivated Rosow, but rejection letters rolled in and his mood shifted to dejection. Some publishers offered nice comments and critiques, however, and Rosow decided to self-publish and add a second book to capture a wider audience. On May 5, both books were released in ebook and paperback. Patterson even offered a nice blurb for the cover and gave a copy to Limbaugh, who later took to the airwaves with his own review.
“He loved it and here’s where we are today,” Rosow says. “I got a heads-up about seven minutes before the show started that he might talk about the books. I tuned in and was just thrilled and grateful and flattered and all those words. It was fantastic.”
Rosow left an open thread at the end of Threat Bias and has another book planned. Right now, though, he’s working at promoting the books and is just pleased so many enjoy his work. “I’ve gotten some great feedback, which is flattering and humbling to hear people praise the work,” he says. “I’m not a very good self-promoter — it doesn’t come naturally to me — so it’s really humbling. It puts the pressure on for book three to deliver something like books one and two. It’s such a fun process. I think I can do it, and I’d like to try.”