I bet you've heard of every single one of the following people! And I bet you had no idea that they started as self-published authors.
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John Grisham wrote his first novel, "A Time To Kill" in 1989. He received 28 rejection letter before self-publishing a mere 5,000 copies through a small private publisher. He was eventually picked up by Doubleday. After writing three more books ("The Firm," "The Pelican Brief" and "The Client"), Grisham sold Doubleday the rights to "A Time To Kill," and reissued it. Now his books are available in every grocery store, bookstore, and airport in the United States. According to Wikipedia, he has sold more than 275 million books worldwide! Not too shabby!
The innocent childhood favorite, "The Tales of Peter Rabbit," was rejected several times by publisher. But Beatrix Potter knew she had a great idea and wouldn’t give up. She self-published Peter Rabbit’s stories in 1901. Only a year later, one of the publishers who had initially rejected the manuscript published it (want to bet they were humble and apologetic?). They also published 22 more of her stories. Over two million Beatrix Potter books are sold every year. BAM! Pretty fantastic for bunnies and frogs dressed in waistcoats!
E.L. James (Erika Leonard) has sold more than 70 million copies of her "Fifty Shades" trilogy worldwide. She started out writing Twilight fan fiction (literally just felt you shudder. It’s ok. I understand) stories and posting them on her website. When she wrote "Fifty Shades of Grey," she self-published it through a small Australian publishing company. It was released it on eBook and print-on demand. After the world discovered that a bunch of middle aged women enjoy BDSM erotica, the rights were acquired by Vintage Books.
William P. Young’s self-published Christian fiction book, “The Shack,” became a USA Time Bestseller, selling over a million copies. Before it was successful however, it was rejected by both secular and Christian publishing companies. In fact, Young and his friends created their own publishing company for the sole purpose of publishing that book. Marketing, for the first year, was simply word of mouth and a $300 website they paid someone to put together for them. In 2008, the book’s popularity exploded, and spent 70+ weeks on the New York Times Paperback Best Seller’s List.
There are more out there. And, with social media being what it is, there are more success stories coming! Hang in there, friends! You could be next!
Did any of this surprise you? What other self-publishing success stories are out there?