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CaoPaux
04-21-2011, 09:19 PM
One often hears how {Famous!Author} self-published -- with the implication being that not only is s/he famous because s/he self-published, but if you self-publish, you’ll become a Famous Author, too. But just how many of the names tossed around are relevant in this context? Here are some frequently touted examples of Famous Self-Published Authors:

Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744)
Poet. Had already gained fame for his work published in Tonson’s Poetical Miscellanies before he self-published a collection.

Heidi Markoff
Specialized non-fiction. She collaborated with her mother and sisters to self-publish What to Do When You’re Expecting before selling it to Workman.

Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943)
She submitted The Story of Peter Rabbit to six publishers, who rejected it because it lacked the color illustrations expected for submittals of children's books at the time (unlike today). So she drew color pictures (using her skills as a scientific illustrator) and printed 250 copies on her own. She then sold the book to a commercial publisher. Because her self-published version was wildly popular? No, because she re-submitted it with color illustrations.

Benjamin Franklin (1705 – 1790)
The publishing industry as we know it didn't exist at the time Franklin ran his printshop.

Burt “BS” Levy
Niche fiction (motorsports). He and his wife took out a second mortgage to found his publishing company, Think Fast Ink. Sold some hardcover and ebook rights to St. Martins.

Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967)
In 1904, he self-published poems and essays with the financial assistance of his college professor. His work came to public notice when he began selling to Poetry magazine.

Christopher Paolini
Printed Eragon through his parents’ publishing company, and hawked it at school book fairs and classroom signings. Famous for being a teenage author who lucked out in having the son of a Knopf editor recommend it to his father.

D.H. Lawrence (1885 – 1930)
Originally published Lady Chatterley’s Lover in “private editions” due to the obscenity laws of the time.

Deepak Chopra
Specialized nonfiction. This New Age guru vanity-published his first book through the printing arm of the medical center he was working in at the time.

E.E. Cummings (1894 – 1962)
Self-published a volume of poetry in 1935, financed by his mother.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)
His self-published collections (Tamerlane and Other Poems, et al.) were financial and critical failures. The poem that made him a household name, The Raven, was published by the Evening Mirror in 1845.

Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875 – 1950)
He founded his own publishing house after he had become the best-selling and richest author in America.

Edward Tufte
Specialized nonfiction re: the art and science of visual design.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861)
Poet. Her father paid for publication of her epic The Battle of Marathon as a gift for her 14th birthday.

E. Lynn Harris
Self-published his first novel, Invisible Life, which he sold through black-owned bookstores and beauty salons before selling it to Anchor Books, which published the trade paperback edition that launched his career.

Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961)
He self-published his first collection, Three Stories and Ten Poems, during his first tour as a journalist in Paris (1923).

Ezra Pound (1885 – 1972)
Began self-publishing his poetry in Venice in 1908.

G.P. Taylor
Niche fiction (Christian YA). Not wanting to weather the submission/rejection process, he sold his motorcycle to self-publish 1,000 copies of Shadowmancer, which was subsequently bought by Faber and Faber (the book, not the motorcycle).

George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)
Playwright. Not only were all five of his novels trade published (or serialized in magazines, then published), but they were … unsuccessful.

Gertrude Stein (1874 – 1946)
Self-published her first book in Paris in 1909. Later works were published with the assistance of her companion, Alice Toklas.

Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)
Already a published essayist, he self-published Walden in 1854 to little acclaim at the time.

Howard Fast (1914 – 2003)
Already a multi-published author before he was blacklisted for being Communist, he self-published Spartacus until the blacklist broke and the book was reissued by Crown in 1958.

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hanson
Were already renown motivational speakers before founding Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing -- in response to popular demand from their audiences to put their anecdotes in book form.

James Joyce (1882 – 1941)
Already a published poet and author, Joyce began serializing Ulysses in Ezra Pound’s The Little Review in 1918. After running afoul of obscenity laws, however, he self-published it in book form by collecting money from friends, fellow writers, and art patrons as subscriptions and pre-sales.

James Redfield
Although he received offers for The Celestine Prophecy from the trade publishers he submitted it to, he did not want to wait the year or more it would take for it to hit the shelves. He therefore self-published, and went on to sell thousands of copies from the trunk of his car before selling the reprint rights to Warner.

Jennifer Colt
Self-published three “chick-lit” novels before getting an agent and selling the series to Broadway Books.

John Grisham
Despite popular belief, Grisham's first novel, A Time To Kill, was NOT self-published. To quote the author himself ( http://www.slushpile.net/index.php/2006/03/01/interview-john-grisham-author/): “Wynwood Press was a new, small unknown publishing company in New York in 1989. Everybody else had passed on A Time to Kill, Wynwood Press took the gamble. Printed 5,000 hardback copies, and we couldn’t give them away. Wynwood later went bankrupt, or out of business.”
-- He then bought the remaining stock to sell on his own, but he did NOT self-publish. (He later founded a magazine to which he sometimes contributes, but long after he became famous.)

Judith Galbraith
Specialized non-fiction. Founded Free Sprit Publishing in 1983 to print self-help books for kids and teens.

Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
Specialized non-fiction, to be sold in conjunction with their leadership seminars.

L. Ron Hubbard (1911 – 1986)
Bridge Publications, an arm of the Scientologists he founded, keeps L. Ron's books in print. They also pay for shelf space to keep them in bookstores, and have devotees buy the books and send them back to the warehouse.

Louis L'Amour (1908 – 1988)
Self-published a book of poetry many years before he gained fame for his westerns.

Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922)
Was already widely published before Remembrance of Things Past.

Matthew Reilly
At age 19, he self-published 1,000 copies of his first novel with money borrowed from his family. After a significant rewrite, he sold it to Pan Macmillan.

Nan McCarthy
For $10,000, she self-published her first novel (a romance written entirely in email format), but could not get it into bookstores. Seeing Dave Barry’s similarly-formatted work Cyberspace everywhere she wanted to be, she promoted herself to Barry's fans and thus sold her original 2,500 print run. After contracting with a computer book publisher to print another 20,000 copies, she sold Chat and its sequels to Pocket Books.

Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)
Self-published a book of poetry in 1881.

Richard Nixon
Specialized non-fiction. (And isn’t famous for his writing ….)

Richard Paul Evans
He wrote The Christmas Box for his daughters, and made 20 copies as gifts for friends and family -- who passed them around town so much, bookstores came calling. After selling self-published runs of many thousands, he sold the book and its sequels to Simon & Schuster.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
Copyright laws being what they were, he self-published collections of his short stories to counter the “unauthorized” versions on the market. (He also self-published collections of poetry, as was and is usual for poets.)

Samuel Clemens (1835 – 1910)
Most famously known as Mark Twain (he published under several pseudonyms), he was already America's most popular and best-selling author when he self-published an edition of Huckleberry Finn.

Stephen Crane (1871 – 1900)
In 1893, he self-published Maggie due to its controversial subject matter (prostitution). It was both a financial and critical failure. The work which gained him renown, Red Badge of Courage, was serialized by newspapers in 1894 before being published by D. Appleton & Company in 1895.

Stephen King
He self-published short stories while in high school, which he sold to his friends for a quarter. Then there was his short-lived experiment with serialized fiction ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Plant), sold on the honor system from his website in 2000 – long after he had become a household name.

T.S. Eliot (1888 – 1965)
Poet. He self-published his first collection of poems, which had already been published in magazines and journals.

Thomas Paine (1736 – 1809)
There was no publishing industry as we know it when he self-published his political and theological pamphlets.

Tom Peters
Specialized nonfiction. In Search of Excellence was self-published to sell on his lecture circuit before he sold it to Warner Books.

Travis Hunter
Niche fiction (urban fiction before it became popular). Self-published his first novel in 2000, which he hawked to publishers at Book Expo America that same year -- where it caught the attention of Random House imprint Striver’s Row/Villard.

Upton Sinclair (1882 – 1941)
Was already established as author and playwright before he wrote The Millennium as a play in 1907. He rewrote it as a novel that was serialized in Appeal to Reason in 1914 before he self-published it in book form in 1924.

Virginia Woolf (1819 – 1892)
Well-placed in literary and social circles, she published her first books in a joint venture with her half-brother, Gerald Duckworth, who owned a publishing company of the same name. Later, she founded Hogarth Press with her husband, which also published other notables of the time (e.g., T.S. Eliot).

Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)
Poet. After making his name publishing in newspapers and journals, he self-published 795 copies of his first stand-alone collection Leaves of Grass, which on the praise of contemporary Ralph Waldo Emerson survived the controversy regarding some of its subject matter to be reprinted commercially.

Will Clarke
Niche fiction. After gaining a cult following for the paranormal thriller novels he published through his Middle Finger Press, he sold them to Simon & Schuster.

William Blake (1757 – 1827)
Poet. Largely unrecognized in his lifetime, Blake was also an engraver, painter, and lithographer. For him, his poetry was only one element of the illustrated works of art he created.

William Morris (1834 – 1896)
Was already an established poet, writer, and artist when he founded Kelmscott Press in 1891 in order to publish using 15th-century methods (as part of the Arts and Crafts Movement he instigated).

Zane Grey (1872 – 1939)
He self-published his first novel (a historical romance set during the American Revolution), but no one would know about it if he hadn’t gone on to write westerns -- which were trade published.

-----

I haven’t included Amanda Hocking or J.A. Konrath because there are already separate threads on them. Otherwise, please feel free to offer additional examples of Famous Self-Published Authors so we can determine if they are indeed that.

dgaughran
04-22-2011, 11:52 PM
This is very interesting CaoPaux - thanks.

Chris_Wilkins
04-23-2011, 01:53 AM
One often hears how {Famous!Author} self-published -- with the implication being that not only is s/he famous because s/he self-published, but if you self-publish, you’ll become a Famous Author, too. But just how many of the names tossed around are relevant in this context? Here are some frequently touted examples of Famous Self-Published Authors:

Wow. Awesome compiled list. Thanks for putting it together.

thothguard51
04-23-2011, 03:29 AM
I hope anyone reading this thread, understands what this list really shows...

Good post, CaoPaux...

FocusOnEnergy
04-24-2011, 11:39 AM
William Paul Young (1955 - )
Wrote The Shack as a Christmas gift for his children and friends, had 15 copies printed at Staples at first. Rejected by mainstream publishers "too much Jesus", rejected by Christian publishers "too edgy". Along with some friends founded a publishing company in their garage to keep up with the worldwide demand for copies of the book. (14 million in 40 languages as of 11/1/10 when I interviewed him).

DeleyanLee
08-02-2011, 05:58 PM
Vince Flynn
Self-published his first political thriller novel, Term Limits, after multiple NYC rejections. As a marketing professional, he used his skills to sell enough copies to attract a publisher, who (as far as I can tell) did not make him rewrite the book. Within three books, Flynn was on the major bestseller lists and still enjoys that status today.

indiewordsmith
09-22-2011, 07:37 PM
Interesting compilation you got here. There are authors I never knew were self-published such as James Joyce.
I must say, James Joyce's short stories are a few of those literary pieces that I find very challenging as I know they're deeper in meaning as what they seem appear in the surface.

Old Hack
09-22-2011, 07:49 PM
William Paul Young (1955 - )
Wrote The Shack as a Christmas gift for his children and friends, had 15 copies printed at Staples at first. Rejected by mainstream publishers "too much Jesus", rejected by Christian publishers "too edgy". Along with some friends founded a publishing company in their garage to keep up with the worldwide demand for copies of the book. (14 million in 40 languages as of 11/1/10 when I interviewed him).

I'd be interested to know how many of those 40 languages and 14 million copies were his original self-published edition, and how many of them were his trade-published editions. Here in the UK he's trade-published, for example, and I am sure that he is in other territories too.

Momento Mori
09-22-2011, 08:02 PM
Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

Self-published Tunnels, the first in a MG fantasy series set in London after one of the authors remortgaged their house to raise £100,000. They subsequently sold the book through school events before signing with Rogers, Coleridge and White Literary Agency who obtained a publishing deal for them with Chicken House (a deal that saw Tunnels re-published by them). The series released its 5th book at the beginning of September 2011. Foreign rights have been sold in 40 countries and the authors signed a film adaptation deal at the beginning of 2011.

veyles57
10-03-2011, 08:59 PM
Thanks for posting this. I wonder why so many writers today are afraid of the self publish mantle. It seems to be an honor I think.




http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51WGE-QsWUL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-34,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg

Luis
10-24-2011, 11:23 PM
awsome post! I had no idea so many writers self published,and WHY.

See everybody, we're in good company!!!!!

thank's for the inspiration.

Luis
http://www.writerinwind.blogspot.com

t0dd
10-26-2011, 04:44 PM
awsome post! I had no idea so many writers self published,and WHY.

See everybody, we're in good company!!!!!

thank's for the inspiration.



I hope you got the point - that most successful self-published books were successful because the author had already made a name for himself or herself before self-publishing (and that most of the other cases on the list were either specialized non-fiction, published in the days before publishing was a regular industry - as in the cases of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, or in a few cases - such as "Walden" - didn't sell well).

Carradee
01-06-2012, 05:28 PM
It's quite an interesting list, but I look at that list and see perseverance, not "You must make a name for yourself before self-publishing."

Those writers (or their families) believed in their writing, so they kept working at it. (Case in point: Christopher Paolini wasn't a big name before his parents published him, though I could pull other names both from the list and elsewhere.)

And then look how a lot of those folks who self-published before they became big names (or their self publishing wasn't what pushed them to fame). Margaret Atwood is another who I'm surprised isn't on the list.

I do agree that there's a fallacy in implying or assuming "that not only is s/he famous because s/he self-published, but if you self-publish, you’ll become a Famous Author, too."

Success, though, can be a bit more tricky, because different folks define it differently. A well-planned self-published story has a higher profit margin for the author, so fewer copies need be sold if the particular author's definition of "success" is "make a living from this writing." But then, going with a traditional publisher means the author doesn't have to find his/her own cover art or (hopefully!) editor. (Some places don't have editors or proofreaders.)

Thanks for putting the list together, CaoPaux!

hughhowey
01-09-2012, 04:14 AM
What a wonderful resource!

Stephen Zimmer
01-26-2012, 03:09 AM
Thanks for posting this. I wonder why so many writers today are afraid of the self publish mantle. It seems to be an honor I think.




http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51WGE-QsWUL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-34,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg

I don't see anything wrong self-publishing, and any stigma is fading fast due to the reality on the ground. The landscape in publishing is changing very, very fast, and self-published authors are going to be a major force in the emerging publishing climate. The emerging publishing climate involves a new model, with new methods, new ways of doing things, and as with all things there will be those resistant to the change. (So you'll probably see some barbs thrown about regarding self-publishing in general).

So while some authors may still be hesitant, the self-publishing route is going to continue to show tremendous success stories and grow as a share of an eBook-centric market.

I just feel that authors who choose to take this route need to approach their project as a publisher would, and apply the same elements along the way (I.E. Secure a professional editor, professional layout/cover art, develop a realistic marketing/publicity strategy, etc.) If the self-published project is treated with the same steps a solid publisher would take, then I think the end result stands to do very well.

Sarah Renee Crane
04-01-2012, 03:16 AM
Thank you for taking the time to write out this thoughtful post. :)

ZaWolf
04-02-2012, 01:57 PM
While I agree that the names listed aren't relevant as arguments in favour of self-publishing today, I feel obliged to point out that their reasons for self-publishing (or the individual circumstances surrounding their choices to go that route, however briefly) aren't relevant as arguments against self-publishing either.
The world is a different place today, but qualities that are just as required now as they've ever been are heaps of talent and perseverance, as well as a healthy sprinkling of good luck. This goes for self-published writers as much as those pursuing more 'traditional' routes.
A list like this seems aimed at discrediting self-publishing and disheartening its advocates (I'm sorry if that wasn't the intent). How often do people really list those authors as anything more than an example of why trying out self-publishing needn't be burdened with the stigma of a lack of talent or professionalism?

Old Hack
04-02-2012, 03:24 PM
Hello, ZaWolf. Welcome to AW.


While I agree that the names listed aren't relevant as arguments in favour of self-publishing today, I feel obliged to point out that their reasons for self-publishing (or the individual circumstances surrounding their choices to go that route, however briefly) aren't relevant as arguments against self-publishing either.

This thread was started in an attempt to help writers become better informed about who has and hasn't self-published, not to put writers off from self-publishing if that's what they really want.


The world is a different place today, but qualities that are just as required now as they've ever been are heaps of talent and perseverance, as well as a healthy sprinkling of good luck. This goes for self-published writers as much as those pursuing more 'traditional' routes.

I don't think anyone here has suggested otherwise.


A list like this seems aimed at discrediting self-publishing and disheartening its advocates (I'm sorry if that wasn't the intent).

That definitely wasn't the intent.

The authors on this list are all often claimed as shining examples of writers who have succeeded as self-publishers. Their names are used to motivate people to self-publish, and to imply that trade publishing isn't a good option for writers who really care about their writing and their careers. That's misleading. Because when you look at what really happened you discover that several of the people listed never actually self-published at all, and some of them who did self-publish lost money out of the deal or failed in some other way.


How often do people really list those authors as anything more than an example of why trying out self-publishing needn't be burdened with the stigma of a lack of talent or professionalism?

But they're not examples of self-publishing success. As I said before, many of the writers listed have never self-published; some have experienced huge failures as a direct result of their self-publishing.

It's good to motivate writers to do what's best for them: it's not good to motivate writers by providing them with misleading information.

It's also important to recognise that while some self-publishers are talented writers, and are professional about their work, many are not. We shouldn't pretend otherwise just because it's an uncomfortable truth.

Sarah Renee Crane
04-03-2012, 12:56 AM
This is a really thought provoking discussion.

Personally, I never even considered sending my book to a publishing company. I self published because I see myself as an entrepreneur and not just as an author or illustrator.

Writing seems to be more business than anything else these days. I guess it's just a personal observation but I feel the days when a writer could just focus on writing alone are long long gone.

I am very lucky in the fact that I love graphic and web design as much as I love writing. It also doesn't hurt to be married to an account when you are trying to run a business. ;)

I think that self publishing works best when there is a team of people who essentially become their own publishing company.

P.S. I don't know if it counts since it is a cookbook, but I think that Irma Rombauer self published Joy of Cooking in 1931. The cookbook has now sold over 18 million copies.

I grew up baking with my mom's copy and now I have one of my own. :)

ZaWolf
04-03-2012, 03:45 AM
Hello, ZaWolf. Welcome to AW.

And thank you for having me.



This thread was started in an attempt to help writers become better informed about who has and hasn't self-published, not to put writers off from self-publishing if that's what they really want.

Fair enough. Battling misinformation is almost always a worthwhile cause.



That definitely wasn't the intent.

The authors on this list are all often claimed as shining examples of writers who have succeeded as self-publishers. Their names are used to motivate people to self-publish, and to imply that trade publishing isn't a good option for writers who really care about their writing and their careers. That's misleading. Because when you look at what really happened you discover that several of the people listed never actually self-published at all, and some of them who did self-publish lost money out of the deal or failed in some other way.

I guess my problem here was that I've never really experienced this. I've seen the names thrown around, but more as a knee-jerk saving of face (usually by someone hoping that the person on the other side of the conversation didn't think to just Google the info) than as a source of inspiration.
That may have been a misinterpretation of motivation on my part, which led to a similar mistake regarding the OP :)
In which case, I apologise.


But they're not examples of self-publishing success. As I said before, many of the writers listed have never self-published; some have experienced huge failures as a direct result of their self-publishing.


My point here was not expressed well. I didn't mean to say that they were examples of self-publishing success, I simply meant that if even one literary legend has dipped his or her toes into self-publishing (during a time when more conventional alternatives were available) then it serves as evidence that self-publishing is not necessarily the final recourse of the creatively destitute.


It's good to motivate writers to do what's best for them: it's not good to motivate writers by providing them with misleading information.

It's also important to recognise that while some self-publishers are talented writers, and are professional about their work, many are not. We shouldn't pretend otherwise just because it's an uncomfortable truth.


I agree with all of this.
It was not my intention to ignore uncomfortable truths or to suggest that anyone else do so. Having reread my initial post, I realise I might have gotten a touch defensive (in part due to the widespread impression of self-publishing cultivated by it's more unprofessional proponents) and jumped to all the wrong conclusions.
If that is the case, I again apologise.

Medievalist
04-03-2012, 04:44 AM
P.S. I don't know if it counts since it is a cookbook, but I think that Irma Rombauer self published Joy of Cooking in 1931. The cookbook has now sold over 18 million copies.

She printed 3000 copies with a local printer, and was picked up by Macmillan in 1936.

Cookbooks are one of the niches that can work really really well for self-publishing, especially via Blurb/Lulu etc. using their cookbook templates.

There are printing companies that specialize in cookbooks, but they don't distribute; they tend to be utilized by local organizations who use a compilation cookbook as a fund raiser.

Old Hack
04-03-2012, 10:39 AM
Writing seems to be more business than anything else these days. I guess it's just a personal observation but I feel the days when a writer could just focus on writing alone are long long gone.

I have plenty of writer-friends who do very well on writing alone. And plenty of publishing friends who work with writers who do nothing else. It's still possible.


I think that self publishing works best when there is a team of people who essentially become their own publishing company.

If one hires in outside help to perform specific jobs, such as editing and cover design, then I can see how that's still self-publishing: but if a team of people are working together to publish their own books, and pooling their expertise and resources, is that still self-publishing?


That may have been a misinterpretation of motivation on my part, which led to a similar mistake regarding the OP :)
In which case, I apologise.

There is absolutely no need for you to apologise. Discussions like this make AW the brilliant resource that it is, and you were perfectly respectful. Don't worry one bit. You're fine.

HistorySleuth
04-15-2012, 07:50 PM
Here are a couple more to debate on both sides. Self-published to famous and famous to self-published.

(http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/sergio-de-la-pava-university-of-chicago-press_b49653)

Self-published Novelist Lands University of Chicago Press Book Deal (http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/sergio-de-la-pava-university-of-chicago-press_b49653)
"In May, the University of Chicago Press will publish A Naked Singularity (http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/N/bo13106363.html), a 700-page debut novel that Sergio De La Pava self-published in 2008 through Xlibris." (Article at GalleyCat website written by Jason Boog Aprl. 2012)
There is a link in the article to the book review (http://quarterlyconversation.com/a-naked-singularity-by-sergio-de-la-pava) by Scott Bryan Wilson from 2010 at The Quarterly Conversation that Levi Stahl of Chicago Press read that set it all in motion.

Stahl says in the Boog article: "Without cheap digital publishing technology, the book would never have existed; without the Web, I would never have heard about it."

I can't seem to find an interview with the author La Pava that isn't a subscription site. It would be interesting to see what he had to say about the process since Xlibris is a vanity press with packages from $499 - $15,249.
_____________________________________



Industry Reaction to Jackie Collins' Self-publishing Experiment (http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/industry-reactions-to-jackie-collins-decision-to-self-publish-a-novel_b48225)
"Collins revealed her plans to self-publish an updated version of her 1979 novel, The Bitch, as an eBook. Collins (pictured, via (http://jackiecollins.com/photos/)) will continue working with her traditional publisher for other books." (Article by Maryann Yin, Jackie Collins interview by Jeff Rivera, both of GalleyCat Apr 2012)

I find the Jackie Collins one interesting as she mentions short stories she wrote that she always wanted to put into a collection for a book, but her publisher wasn't interested. Can you imagine saying no to Jackie Collins?

So two interesting cases. How much $$ did LaPava gamble on self-publishing? In his case it turns out to be a worthwhile investment, BUT a lot had to do with how well it was written (by reviews anyway.) Most self-publishers don't recoup if they invest thousands.

Then we have Jackie Collins, uber famous, whose publisher won't publish her short stories.

SBurton
04-26-2012, 05:49 AM
This is quite the list! Thank you for asking the question. Very uplifting.

lovtowrite
05-03-2012, 02:39 AM
That's a nice list you have there.
There are plenty of popular self-published authors. I have interviewed some myself on my website (thewritingcorner). I have shared some of their point of view about some popular publishing services like CreateSpace. You can read it here: http://www.thewritingcorner.net/self-publish-a-book.php.

But, I'll share some with you guys here. There is Christy Pinheiro who is a self-published author with CreateSpace and she's very popular as it's literally her living.

Scott Seldon
05-16-2012, 10:05 PM
The landscape of publishing is changing (or maybe I should say has changed) in drastic ways. It is no longer feasible to be a midlist author. Publisher's can't afford to keep the midlist authors published. Quite a number of long established authors are turning to self-publishing their back titles and novellas. What the publishers are after are the best sellers and if you aren't one you may be out of a contract even if you manage to land one. The new home of the midlist author is with the self-publishing companies.

Old Hack
05-16-2012, 11:25 PM
...and how is any of that on-topic for this thread, Scott?

I welcome your contribution, but it's better for us all if we don't derail threads. Thanks.

Scott Seldon
05-18-2012, 09:25 PM
It is on topic, I just neglected to specify how it relates, sorry.

It used to be a midlist author would steadily sell books and publishers liked that. From what I've been seeing, that isn't the case any more. Quite a number of writers I like have been turning to self-publishing. They have successful titles through traditional publishing, but now they are self-publishing, either back titles, shorts, or new titles. While not necessarily famous in the general sense, this is a group with established names who are utilizing self-publishing to expand their available titles. Some are moving totally to self-publishing, citing the better royalty rate.

And I know several people who have had great success in self-publishing. The one name that comes to mind is Ruth Cardello. She's been approached by publishers, but turn them down because they can't offer the royalty rate she gets by self-publishing.

I would love such success myself, but I suspect that like so may writers, I will fall in the midlist range. While getting a traditional publishing deal may once have been an option, chances are that unless your book goes viral quickly, you will be dropped. With self-publishing I have a chance to get multiple titles out there, one of the keys to long term success.

While it is great to cite some famous people who have started or turned to self publishing, I think looking at the less famous, but well established writers to see how they are handling and utilizing the new self-publishing tools. David Gerrold is one in this category. While he is famous for Trouble With Tribbles, I don't think his non Star Trek books have risen above midlist. He is now publishing a variety of stories himself, including a few new ones.

And this is a very genre sensitive issue. Some genres haven't been as impacted as others. Some writers are still comfortable and work with their long time publisher. Some still publish full length works through their publisher, but have turned to self-publishing for their back catalog and short stories and novellas. Some have turned entirely to self-publishing (in particular a successful romance writer who used to work for Harlequin... can't remember her name right now).

I think it is important to consider all areas of publishing and look at successful writers, not just famous ones.

Old Hack
05-18-2012, 10:21 PM
Scott, I'm afraid you missed my point and misunderstood the premise of this thread.

This thread discusses whether specific famous authors owe their successes to self- or trade-publishing. It's intended to debunk some of the more common misleading online claims that we often find. Read the very first post carefully, and I hope you'll see what I mean.

This thread is not intended to be a place where we debate the pros, cons or popular rhetoric of self publishing. There are plenty of other threads for that.

Please try harder to stay on topic. Especially when a mod requests that of you. Thank you.

GHWard
05-30-2012, 11:12 PM
Thanks for the information. I never knew that many of the iconic writers on that list actually tried their hands at self publishing. It is certainly encouraging!!!

quicklime
05-30-2012, 11:36 PM
Thanks for the information. I never knew that many of the iconic writers on that list actually tried their hands at self publishing. It is certainly encouraging!!!


pretty basenji.

you might want to re-read though; the point was a great many of the "examples" cited were either already established or did poorly when they were trying to self-pub.

The sticky isn't to dissuade folks from self-pubbing, but to point out a good number of the poster-child examples trotted out are, ummm, a bit fast and loose with the facts.

Isabella Amaris
05-30-2012, 11:57 PM
To be honest, I also found this thread quite encouraging/inspiring... I had no idea so many of them tried self-pubbing out... It's inspiring on an experimental level, even if one sees nothing in it to indicate 'success' or the origination of 'fame' as one might measure it today, whatever that subjective definition might be... Hmmmm, I can't help wondering how they would have done if they'd had the same tools self-pubbers have today (considering the majority on the list are no longer with us). I suppose we'll never know...

Scott Seldon
06-01-2012, 06:44 AM
pretty basenji.

you might want to re-read though; the point was a great many of the "examples" cited were either already established or did poorly when they were trying to self-pub.

The sticky isn't to dissuade folks from self-pubbing, but to point out a good number of the poster-child examples trotted out are, ummm, a bit fast and loose with the facts.


Also, most prior self-publishing efforts had little in common with the current offerings with ebooks and POD costing nothing and instantly getting fairly wide distribution. Older self-publishing was a costly business (and those services are still available) and the author had to peddle the books themselves. I think it is interesting that several authors on that list self-published a small run and were able to succeed in selling it and turning it into a regular publishing contract. That is not the goal of everyone who self-publishes through ebooks and POD.

The ease of ebook and POD services does pose a problem. It has created a large market with lots of offerings. It is hard to go from obscurity to known, perhaps harder than some off the examples listed had it. They could at least concentrate on a particular region and audience.

I do know of several modern authors who are releasing their own ebooks from their back catalog. That is becoming almost a normal route to get some more life out of books and stories that have reverted to the author. David Gerrold and Jane Yolen are among the ones I am aware of. But then, they have a name and a market and all they really have to do is post it on Facebook, Twitter, or their website and they are guaranteed some sales. That is far different from using self-publishing to start out.

There were a lot of names on that list I was unaware of, but none of them were a great success in self-publishing. The only successes used it as a tool to gain a regular publishing deal.

spacejock2
06-14-2012, 07:22 AM
Terry Goodkind to Self-Publish Next Novel

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/52532-terry-goodkind-to-self-publish-next-novel.html

Another big name author attracted to the dark side (not a re-release, either)

benbradley
06-14-2012, 09:33 AM
One of the most fascinating cases of self-publication has to be Stephen Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science." It's obvious from his Wikipedia entry that he's a rare genius, and this 1988 article discusses this as well:
PHYSICS WHIZ GOES INTO BIZ At 28, MacArthur Foundation genius Stephen Wolfram may be the most promising physicist to appear in years. But he aims to get rich as a software entrepreneur instead.
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1988/04/11/70404/index.htm
And he did indeed get rich producing and selling the software package Mathematica. THEN he became so fascinated with simple computer/mathematical constructs called "cellular automata" that he started writing a book about them. Here's the Wikipedia article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Wolfram
Ten years and 1,192 pages later, he self-published (does the book description [Amazon takes this from the publisher] seem a bit overblown and overstated?):
http://www.amazon.com/New-Kind-Science-Stephen-Wolfram/dp/1579550088
The book apparently sold well (I really don't know, but several copies were available in EVERY big-box store - surely he made back his investment) if for no other reason than he had given a few interviews about it and it had been so anticipated for so many years. But the reviews - you must read a few. Many of them are quite mocking and sarcastic, such as "A New Kind of Review."

ClarissaWild
07-08-2013, 03:13 PM
Well, she's not famous, but she does have a lot of success: Jasinda Wilder.

Also, another one is Amanda Hockings. :)

mairi
09-16-2013, 09:29 PM
H.M. Ward is another successful self-pubbed author. :)

Literateparakeet
09-17-2013, 01:58 PM
Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hanson
Were already renown motivational speakers before founding Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing -- in response to popular demand from their audiences to put their anecdotes in book form.

It is my understanding that the first Chicken Soup for the Soul was published by HCI, a trade publisher (who also published the popular A Child Called It). I wouldn't consider them self-published at all.

Another one we could add to the list. Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the intro to one version of The Scarlet Letter it says that his first book, published at his own expense, was a dismal failure. He tried to get all the copies back. And discouraged by this didn't write again for about 20 yrs. (paraphrased). So sad.

PrincessFiona
09-18-2013, 07:15 PM
Thanks for revising this. Very interesting.

Torgo
10-15-2013, 03:14 PM
Self Publishing gurus keep calling E L James a self publishing success story and.... as I understand it she gave it away for free on a fan fic site which got word of mouth out there, and then they banned her for sexual content, and she put it up on her own website for a while until submitting it to The Writer's Coffee Shop for publication. So I don't know that she really fits a definition of a self publishing story exactly. The Writer's Coffee Shop were the first to actually sell her book I believe? Until demand got too great and a big publisher took it on?

No, I think TWCS qualifies as a publisher. EL James isn't, in my opinion, a self-publishing story.

Old Hack
10-15-2013, 04:36 PM
Omg, it's so long List. I absolutely din't have any idea that there can so many self published famous authors.

You might want to read that list again--the one in the very first post in this thread.

The point is that they didn't all self publish, even though they're often held up as examples of self publishing success.


This means, it a positive sigh to the self-published authors. (so far i was pondering that there were/are very few self-published famous authors) Means, self published authors also can reach the peak position if the writing is up to the mark and they use the right medium to self-published. We can add 'AW' as one medium, right?

No, we can't add AW as one "medium to self-published". This is a discussion board, not a publisher.

meangene01
06-27-2014, 05:33 AM
That's a great list. I think the key is that if you are already famous you/ can self-publish anything and it will sell. Look at all the President's who have written books.

C.bronco
06-27-2014, 06:46 AM
You left one out: Travis Tea, the legend.

I think I killed the thread. Sorry!

Mercia McMahon
10-23-2014, 06:26 AM
It took me years to overcome my internal stigma against self-publication but I would be defined as that clearly now because I used self-publishing services like CreateSpace and Smashwords. That stigma is evident when I tell people my books are "only self-published." I would love to claim the validation of the modernist giants, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, but I doubt that they belong within a definition of self-publishing.

I take inspiration from Virginia and Leonard Woolf setting up Hogarth Press in order to preserve the creative freedom of the Bloomsbury Circle, as that is basically my reason for self-publishing. Yet I am reluctant to describe Hogarth Press as self-publishing because from the time Virginia set up the printing press in her home her first thought was to print something by someone else (Katherine Mansfield).

I am also unsure about describing Ulysses as ever having been self-published. James Joyce's patron, Sylvia Beach used her Shakespeare & Co. bookshop to print the first edition. I would see that not as self-publishing, but the equivalent of the Joyce-inspired Eimear McBride's Girl is a Half-Formed Thing being published by a bookshop (or the just then established Galley Beggar Press depending on which version of the story you believe).

To wrap the two stories together 4-5 months after the Shakespeare & Co edition Joyce tried to get Hogarth Press to publish Ulysses, but Virginia Woolf refused on the basis of the length of the text. I suspect that she would also have had some issues with the depiction of women in the novel.

It would be wonderful to be able to claim those two giants of modernism for self-publishing, but I think it would be stretching the definition of the term almost to breaking point.

Polenth
10-23-2014, 06:37 AM
It took me years to overcome my internal stigma against self-publication but I would be defined as that clearly now because I used self-publishing services like CreateSpace and Smashwords. That stigma is evident when I tell people my books are "only self-published." I would love to claim the validation of the modernist giants, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, but I doubt that they belong within a definition of self-publishing.

If you're negative about yourself and what you've done, expect people to roll with it. So if you say you're only self-published, as though it's not like being really published, they'll often go with it. You've told them that's how it is.

Much like if you tell people your writing is terrible, they might well say something like you'll get better with practise. They're taking you at your word that you're not very good.

Most people really don't know enough about writing or publishing to have much of a view of it. Most non-writers I know have this vague idea that some famous people self-published and made lots of money (if they've heard of it at all). How it works is a magical mystery. So if I present what I've done in a positive way, they take that as being how it is. You don't need famous examples to do this - just a shift in how you describe it.

blacbird
10-23-2014, 11:08 AM
The OP is a great post, and anybody who cites a writer more than a half-century ago as an inspiring example of self-publication is like citing Triceratops as an inspiring example of a successful big herbivorous animal.

Things have changed.

caw

Carradee
10-23-2014, 04:16 PM
If you're negative about yourself and what you've done, expect people to roll with it. So if you say you're only self-published, as though it's not like being really published, they'll often go with it. You've told them that's how it is.


This. When folks ask if I've anything published, I casually say I'm self-published. If they ask further, I'll admit that I don't have many sales, but my reviews and Wattpad stats are good. (I'm not one of the insanely popular people, but I'm popular enough to be a solid midlister who gets special messages and invites from Wattpad staff.) USUALLY, people answer happily, not caring that it's self-published. Once in a blue moon, someone asks if I have anything not self-published (which I do).

(What I write could be called psychological or literary fantasy. I'm essentially not even trying to publicize it until I have at least 4 books out, preferably 5 or 6.)

Fact is, the average person doesn't know author names—unless, maybe, they read you. Doesn't matter how you're published. I frequently chat with people, and I've tried bringing up authors on both side of the divide in conversation. In my experience, JRR Tolkein, CS Lewis, and JK Rowling are the only ones that most people recognize. Beyond that, it depends on the genre(s) they read and their attitudes about technology in general.

Some folks don't understand or distrust technology in general, even to the point of refusing to shop online or not understanding that information can be sent electronically. (I know people like this.) They only read whatever print books they get at the book store. Other than that…

Most people don't care about publisher, anymore, and I've actually had some prefer that I self-published over having a publisher.

ecerberus
06-22-2017, 10:34 PM
I believe Andy Weir self published the Martian at 0.99 on Amazon. Huge success, movie too! (With Matt Damon no less)

pattmayne
05-30-2019, 02:17 AM
My question is, how many self-published authors are making a living from their self-published books right now?

I stopped self-publishing because it's too expensive and I failed to reach a broad audience. I get a strong positive response from a very small audience (mostly people I meet at conventions, and the people they push my books on later), but that's just a few bucks every month in sales, at best. I'm working with publishers now, but I miss the control of self-publishing.

Al X.
05-30-2019, 03:27 AM
My question is, how many self-published authors are making a living from their self-published books right now?

I stopped self-publishing because it's too expensive and I failed to reach a broad audience. I get a strong positive response from a very small audience (mostly people I meet at conventions, and the people they push my books on later), but that's just a few bucks every month in sales, at best. I'm working with publishers now, but I miss the control of self-publishing.

I feel your pain. I am experiencing the same myself.

I personally know one, a romance novelist, and she has been somewhat of a mentor to me. She was in a position to quit her day job at one point, except that it was during the period when Amazon was on a witch hunt to shut down and ban authors who were suspected of scamming their Select program, and she got caught up in it due to her success, and they banned her.

Her books are back on Amazon now, but she never really did recover from all of that, and the royalties that Amazon stiffed her out of, which was considerable, but not quite enough to be worth hiring an IP attorney to fight it.

If it sounds like I don't like Amazon, it's because I don't. The problem is, like it or not, they are 99% of the market.

Sorry to get off track, but it is interesting to read some of the historical responses on this thread. People back in 2012 were complaining about the noise vs. signal ratio in the POD industry. This is 2019. It's tough. I believe I have published my last self-published book, unless some kind of promo or marketing miracle happens. And I have 11.

AW Admin
05-30-2019, 03:41 AM
My question is, how many self-published authors are making a living from their self-published books right now?

How do you define "making a living"?

Because increasingly writers whether self-published or not in the U.S. need to either have a "day job" a spouse with a job, or retirement income, because of the high cost of health care etc. Self-employed people need to pay for their own health insurance, and a much large amount for social security etc. because if you're self-employed, you pay your part of social security and the employer's part.