Self publishing success stories don't just fill you with envy, although that's part of it, but instead they can provide the motivation (and inspiration) to push through the long hours...and realize there's (self publishing) "gold in them hills."
Here are 11 self publishing success stories to add to your memory bank and help reframe your thoughts of what's possible:
Self Publishing Success Stories to Inspire #1: James Redfield (The Celestine Prophecy)
James Redfield's New York Times Best-seller, The Celestine Prophecy, got its start as a free handout by Redfield himself. In 1992, he began passing out 1500 copies of his book which caused enough word-of-mouth success to get the attention of Warner Books. In 1994, they published the story and it quickly became a best-seller.
Self Publishing Success Stories to Inspire #2: Andy Weir (The Martian)
The Ridley Scott movie starring Matt Damon coming to theaters later this year is based on the book by Andy Weir. Weir wrote the story and posted it to his website where it quickly gained fans. The fans had one request—they wanted to have the book on their Kindles. At their demand, Weir offered the novel on Amazon as an eBook at the lowest price possible, $.99, and it immediately climbed to the top of the Best-Sellers List.
Self Publishing Success Stories to Inspire #3: Michael J. Sullivan (Riyira Revelations)
After ten years of writing with no bites from publishers, Michael J. Sullivan threw in the towel. A decade later, the urge to write struck him again and he penned the Riyira Revelation series which he published through a company started by his wife. Sales were so successful, he caught the eye of several mainstream publishers and sold the rights to his book Orbit for $100K.
Self Publishing Success Stories to Inspire #4: Rachel Abbott (Only the Innocent)
Rachel Abbott found Amazon UK success with her novel, Only the Innocent, in 2012 when it sold 100,000 copies and snatched a US publishing deal with Amazon. How did you she do it? By cleverly marketing her book on twitter and gaining exposure and positive reviews, she eventually climbed up the Amazon ranks until Amazon itself took notice and offered her a deal.
Self Publishing Success Stories to Inspire #5: Beatrix Potter (The Tales of Peter Rabbit)
Beatrix Potter submitted The Tales of Peter Rabbit to publishers and received nothing but rejection. Discouraged, she published it herself in 1901. A year later, one of the publishing companies who had previously rejected it decided they had to have it. They published the story along with 22 of Potter's books over the next 40 years. Today, over two million Potter books are sold every year.
Self Publishing Success Stories to Inspire #6: E.L James (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Erika Leonard's Fifty Shades trilogy started out as self-published fan fiction she'd posted on her website. Eventually, she was inspired to write Fifty Shades of Grey and self-published it through a small Australian Company. With an avid following already growing for her fan-fiction, the novel quickly found a fan-base. The popularity grew to extreme levels and the rights were eventually bought by Vintage Books. The book has since been adapted into a major motion picture.
Self Publishing Success Stories to Inspire #7: Hugh Howey (Wool)
Satisfied with a small self-published eBook life, Hugh Howey listed his post-apocalyptic story Wool for $.99 on Amazon and began penning his next novel. He soon discovered that Wool was climbing up the charts much faster than any other book he'd written. Changing his game plan, he immediately began writing sequels to Wool and with the release of the next four installments, had topped Amazon's Best-seller list even winning Kindle's Best Indie Book in 2012. He was making $150K a month and publishers noticed, eventually landing him a print-only contract and 6-figure advance with a major publisher.
Self Publishing Success Stories to Inspire #8: Amanda Hocking (Watersong)
Amanda Hocking wrote an astonishing seventeen novels while working at a group home in Minnesota, selling over a million copies as self-published eBooks. St. Martin's Press took notice, and in 2011 bought the rights to her Trylle Trilogy as well as a new series, Watersong, for two million dollars.
Self Publishing Success Stories to Inspire #9: John Locke (Donovan Creed)
Known as the self-publishing pioneer for being the first self-published author to sell over a million digital books on Amazon, John Locke's CIA assassin novels have gained him a large following. Locke's goal is simple-- he's not interested in winning awards or educating the masses, he just wants to be the “world's greatest 99-cent author" and he has found great success doing just that.
Self Publishing Success Stories to Inspire #10: Russ Colchamiro (Finders Keepers)
While balancing a full-time job, an indie writing career and three-year-old twins, Colchamiro has found success in the self-publishing realm. He hasn't taken a traditional route, realizing that he needs to be his own biggest salesman. He's a member of Crazy 8 Press, a team of sci-fi and fantasy authors who cross promote each other's material on social media and at conventions. He's constantly making marketing moves to stay on people's radars and it's worked well for him.
Self Publishing Success Stories to Inspire #10: Lisa Genova (Still Alice)
After penning a novel about early onset Alzheimer’s that was rejected by several publishers, Genova decided to self-publish much to her agent's disapproval who felt she'd be ruining her writing career. Her book received rave-reviews including one by the Boston Globe which caught the eye of Simon & Schuster who bought the novel for half a million dollars. The film version of the novel won Julianna Moore a Best Actress Oscar in 2015.