One of my best friends at work gave me a copy of The Joy of Cooking when I got married. She said the book taught her how to cook. Years later as a budding author I discovered that the classic was originally self-published, and I smiled.
I know there are sites trying to sell their publishing services that use suspect lists of self-published authors. If you’d like to read why it is erroneous to call Stephen King or Frank L. Baum self-published then visit here. Still there are several notable books that make a solid list in my opinion.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
A Time to Kill by John Grisham
Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard
The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Hensen
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer (aforementioned)
Parapublishing.com has an interesting list of self-published books, how many copies they sold, what publisher eventually picked them up, and how many copies they went on to sell. Here are few examples and you can find more at this link.
In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters. More than 25,000 copies were sold directly to consumers in its first year. Then it was sold to Warner and the pub- lisher sold 10 million more.
When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple has been through the press 42 times for 1.5 million in print. It allowed Sanda Haldeman Martz to build Paper Mâché Press.
Life’s Little Instruction Book was initially self-published by H. Jackson Brown. Then it was purchased by Rutledge Hill Press. It made the top of the New York Times Bestseller List in hardcover and soft at the same time. More than 5 million copies were sold.
Hitting it as big as these books and authors did is still not the norm. Indies love Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey stories, but there are so many more success stories that aren’t famous and probably never will be. So what makes them a success? The writers are doing what they love and making a living at it. These folks typically don’t publish one book and promote that title for the rest of their lives (though there are one hit wonders–often self-help or how-to hits). No, these successful writers continue to work their craft and turn out stories year after year building a body of work.
As much as I’d like to make the New York Times Bestseller List, the real goal is to write-up all the stories churning through my brain, engage a modest number of readers, and to eventually make a living at it. Even if I had a mega hit, at this point I can’t quit my day job since it’s raising my children, my best legacy.
Kristin King is an Army wife, mother, publisher, non-profit founder, animal lover, traveler, reader, Jesus follower who sometimes ekes out time to write. W should probably be Works In Progress.