Seriously Successful Self-Published Writers


In 2012, 15 self-published books climbed their way onto Amazon’s Kindle top 100 list, according to Publishers Weekly. With the current popularity of ebooks, some people may think self-publishing is a technology-age concept.

This is an age of self management. More people are joining the freelance workforce and being their own bosses. Since the 90s, people have even been able to choose their own energy provider through deregulation; and self-publishing work is easier than ever for writers. Though the practice is currently enjoying a renaissance, self-publishing isn’t anything new. In fact, it was once a common practice for a writer to publish and market his or her works. In a world of e-readers and downloadable books, it’s hard to believe that Mark Twain and others of his time wrote and marketed books without a social media campaign, or a laptop.

Why Self-Publish?

One seriously successful self-publisher named Hugh Howey frequently earns six figures a month from his writing according to a report by CNN. Howey’s success isn’t typical for a self-published book or one that’s traditionally published for that matter, but there are other reasons besides financial gain to consider self-publishing. According to Lulu Self-Publishing the advantages of publishing your own book are many:

  • The writer retains all rights to their work.
  • The writer controls production, design and distribution of their book.
  • The writer can charge whatever price they want and they keep all the profits.
  • There are no long-term contracts to limit the writer. If they want to change their book’s cover, sell it online, give it away for free or submit it to a traditional publisher, they can.

Self-Published Role Models

You may be surprised by the list of writers who have published their own books.

Virginia Woolf: Considered one of the greatest 20th-century novelists, and most famous for her novels Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando, Woolf co-created the Hogarth Press with her husband in order to publish their hand-printed books.

Fun Fact: Hogarth Press still exists and is now an imprint of Random House, according to

Walt Whitman: Every high school English student learns that one of the most influential works of poetry written by an American is Leaves of Grass, but did you know it started life as a self-published work? explains that in 1855, Whitman designed and published the first edition of Leaves of Grass and sold it in two New York City book stores.

Fun Fact: Early critics gave Whitman lukewarm reviews and predicted little success for the book.

Mary Shelly: At the time Mary Shelly penned Frankenstein, it was still considered improper for women to write novels (especially one so frightening) or to be published. Self-publishing was the best option available to many women authors.

Fun Fact: Shelly wrote Frankenstein as the result of a competition between herself, her husband Percy Shelly and the poet Lord Byron, according to USA Today.

John Grisham: Though not technically self-published, Grisham’s first novel, “A Time to Kill” was rejected by several major agents and publishers, according to USA today. When a small press finally bought the book and printed a few thousand volumes, Grisham bought 1,000 copies himself and began a slow, somewhat disappointing process of marketing.

Fun Fact: Grisham is now the author of 23 different New York Times best sellers.

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