Becoming a published author has never been easier.
Self-published books, released on platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, are growing in popularity, and for good reason. Budding authors can release their work to a wide audience without having to jump through hoops, or face dreaded rejection letters.
In fact, it can actually be beneficial to go down the self-publishing route, as these success stories show. Want to become a viral sensation and get your words out to the masses? Simply follow the example of these hit authors!
1. The Martian (Andy Weir)
It gained worldwide fame last year when the film adaption launched, but Andy Weir originally published The Martian in a serial format on his website. When people requested a Kindle version, he published it on Amazon’s store at the lowest minimum price.
The Martian shot to the top of the Science-Fiction charts, and the rest is history!
2. The Trylle Trilogy (Amanda Hocking)
Amanda Hocking’s Trylle Trilogy is often credited as one of the first major successes of the eBook publishing era. All three books were self-published by the author, and she has sold over 1.5 million copies since.
3. Fifty Shades Of Grey (EL James)
Fifty Shades Of Grey has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, but it actually started life as a Twilight fan fiction!
Originally developed from a short story called Masters of the Universe, Fifty Shades Of Grey was published as an eBook in 2011. It became a viral hit, eventually selling over 125 million copies and becoming the fastest selling paperback in British history. Not bad, eh?
4. The Riyria Revelations (Michael J Sullivan)
Like most of the authors on this list, Michael J Sullivan received tons of rejection letters from publishers, before heading down the self-publication route.
In total, Sullivan released six books himself, selling 90,000 copies before being picked up by international publisher Orbit Books.
5. Still Alice (Lisa Genova)
Lisa Genova’s novel about a Harvard University professor who suffers with early onset Alzheimer’s disease was first self-published through iUniverse. It was later picked up and printed by Simon & Schuster, becoming a smash hit in the process.
In fact, Julianne Moore recently won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Alice in the film adaptation!
6. Only The Innocent (Rachel Abbott)
In 2009, Rachel Abbott (real name Sheila Rodgers) decided to write about an everyday woman who is put into a situation where she has no choice but to commit murder. Only The Innocent was the resulting novel, and it became a smash hit on Amazon when the author self-published and put together a viral marketing campaign for the title.
Since then, Rachel Abbott’s career has skyrocketed. In 2015, she was named the 14th bestselling author on Amazon Kindle in the UK. Not bad for a woman who was rejected numerous times by other publishers!
7. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Beatrix Potter)
It’s hard to believe nowadays, but household name Beatrix Potter had to self-publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit back in 1901. To start with, she privately printed 250 copies and distributed them to family and friends. Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle even requested one for his children!
Eventually, The Tale of Peter Rabbit was picked up by a commercial publisher, and it became the iconic children’s book it is today.
8. Wool (Hugh Howey)
Silo is a post-apocalyptic series created and published by author Hugh Howey. Wool was the first book in the series, released as a short story in 2011. Howey chose Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing system to enjoy the freedom of being his own publisher, and he extended the Silo series when it grew in popularity.
Since then, Howey’s portfolio has grown considerably, and he regularly encourages writers to follow his self-publishing example.
9. The Donovan Creed Series (John Locke)
If you’re looking for inspiration, try following the example set by writer John Locke. Using the Kindle Direct Publishing system, he became the first (and so far, only) self-published author to sell one million eBooks on Amazon.
Locke has always been open about the advantages of self-publishing, challenging well known authors who charge higher prices for their books, but receive less royalties overall. As he said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph: “I put the most famous authors in the world in the position of having to prove their books were ten times better than mine”.
10. Legally Blonde (Amanda Brown)
Legally Blonde may be known more as a film or as a musical nowadays, but the novel that spawned it all is still an important example for self-publishing authors across the world.
Based on author Amanda Brown’s experiences at Stanford Law School, Legally Blonde would never have been released, had it not been for self-publishing service AuthorHouse.
11. Eragon (Christopher Paolini)
Christopher Paolini was just 15 when he began writing Eragon, and he only took two years to finish the final manuscript for the book. When his parents read it, they decided to self-publish the fantasy story with their own money.
To promote the book, Paolini and his parents gave over 135 talks in libraries, bookshops and coffee shops across the U.S. Their hard work paid off – Eragon was featured on the New York Times’ Children’s Best Seller List for 121 weeks.
12. The Joy Of Cooking (Irma Rombauer)
In 1930, following the death of her husband, Irma Rombauer started compiling recipes and her own personal thoughts on cooking to help cope with her loss. She would go on to publish 3,000 copies of The Joy Of Cooking with her own personal savings.
Since then, The Joy Of Cooking has sold more than 18 million copies, and is still being printed today.
13. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy was originally printed and sold out of the back of the author’s Honda Accord. Not the most glamorous of starts, but Redfield managed to shift 100,000 copies in this manner.
Since then, The Celestine Prophecy’s psychological and spiritual ideas have been incredibly well received. In 2005, it was announced that over 20 million copies have been sold worldwide.
14. Damaged (H.M. Ward)
Self-publishing has been a big success for niche writers in particular. H.M. Ward’s contemporary romance series Damaged might have been rejected by traditional publishers, but the author has managed to sell over 12 million books online.
H.M. Ward is far more than an online sensation nowadays too. She’s been listed on the New York Times Best Sellers List multiple times, garnering worldwide attention.