Self-Publishing Success Stories


Many authors now choose to self-publish their book, and there are a number of self-publishing success stories. The publishing market is undergoing change. It goes without saying the eBook market is evolving, and print on demand services, such as Lightning Source, means publishers no longer need to stock hundreds of books. Retailers need only order what they need from places like Lightning Source. Self-publishing is not a new concept. Robert Kyosaki, the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad self-published the book in 1997. No Thanks was self-published by E.E. Cummings in 1935, and one of the most beloved children’s books of all time The Tale of Peter Rabbit was self-published by Beatrix Potter in 1901.

Self-publishing Success Story – James P Sumner

English thriller writer, James P Sumner offers these points:

  • Learn from your mistakes and put them to positive use
  • Go out of your way to build a bond with existing readers
  • Constantly evaluate your marketing to maintain sales momentum

Sumner has been able to provide a comfortable life for his family through writing and says the best thing that ever happened to him was losing his job in June 2016, because after that he got serious about writing. He’s reached some notable milestones like winning the Amazon Kindle Scout program in 2015. and one of his novels was #1 in the Kindle store. Sumner points out that the hardest part for him is maintaining sales, and he depends on the performance of his Facebook campaigns and recommends Nick Stephenson, Joanna Penn, and Mark Dawson to assist with marketing and sales.

Self-publishing Success Story – Jessica Bell

Australian author, poet, and founder of a small indie print says:

  • Follow your instincts
  • Don’t be afraid to ‘be yourself’ on social media

Bell argues that what works for someone else may not work for you, so use your instincts. Be prepared to win some fans and lose some. Not everyone will like what you say on social media. Genuine fans will be loyal to you. When Bell’s poem, Sugar was read on Australia’s National radio – ABC’s Poetica program, she felt a sense of fulfilment that had nothing to do with money or growing an income. For Jessica Bell, the best decision she has made is to not rely on book sales to reach her dreams. Being your own boss and having control over your career is more important to her.

Self-publishing Success Story – Sue Johnson

Prolific British novelist Sue Johnson is both self-published and trade-published. Johnson makes these points:

  • Don’t allow anyone to discourage you. If you like your idea, then go for it
  • Cut loose from technology because doing so helps the creative process
  • Set deadlines as this boosts productivity

Johnson states that the best decision she has made is to ignore the gloom and doom merchants who tell you not to bother because there are already too many books in the world and people don’t buy self-published books. Simply not true. She has found that most readers don’t care who publishes the book as long as it is well presented, enjoyable, and selling at a reasonable price.

10 Self-publishing Success Stories

Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James

Book image - Fifty Shades of GreyA recent self-publishing success story for author E.L. James. The series began as Twilight fan fiction. The author published the book on fan sites and later decided to turn it into an erotic trilogy and self-published the first book, which took off. The rest is history now.



My Blood Approves – Amanda Hocking

Book image - My Blood ApprovesAmanda Hocking was one of the first authors to earn more than $2 million through eBook sales. Hocking writes paranormal romance and young adult fiction, and My Blood Approves is a vampire romance series. Hocking has also authored the Trylle Trilogy, which covers a teenage girl’s journey of self-discovery in an urban fantasy setting, and Hollowland, a zombie novel. These are three of seventeen novels Hocking wrote in her spare time. In April 2010, she began self-publishing them as eBooks. By March 2011, she had sold over 1 million copies of her nine books, and earned $2 million from sales.

Damaged – H.M. Ward

Book image - DamagedWard self-published Damaged as an eBook on Amazon and it became a #1 bestseller.  Other books include the novels Scandalous, Secrets, Collide, Backdraft, Riptide and Demon Kissed. Ward is approaching two million books sold since  2011.



Ten Tiny Breaths – K.A. Tucker

Book image - Ten Tiny BreathsThis is a Canadian success story. Tucker started out by self-publishing a YA fantasy series. She followed up with the adult novel Ten Tiny Breaths in 2013. Tucker is USA Today’s bestselling author of 14 books, including Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water. Her latest book is an adult suspense novel, He Will Be My Ruin. Her books have featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly.


The Wealthy Barber – David Chilton

Book image - The Wealthy BarberChilton self-published his financial planning advice book in 1989. It became one of Canada’s all time bestselling books, selling over two million copies since its release. A sequel was published in 2008. Chilton collaborated with authors Greta and Janet Podleski as the publisher to many bestselling cookbooks, including Looneyspoons, Crazy Plates, and Eat, and Shrink & Be Merry.


The Death of Dulgath – Michael J. Sullivan

Book image - The Death of DulgathThe Death of Dulgath is Volume Three of the Riyria Chronicles, a fantasy series. Sullivan self-published the series through a self-publishing company his wife started. An American writer of epic fantasy and science fiction, Sullivan has been named one of the most successful self-published sci-fi and fantasy authors.



The Celestine Prophecy – James Redfield

Book image - The Celstine ProphecyJames Redfield sold 100,000 copies of his book from the boot of his car before the book was published by Warner Books. The book has been adapted to film, has been followed by three sequels, and has spent 165 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers list. Redfield studied Eastern philosophies as a young man and was drawn into the human potential movement. In 1989, he quit his job and devoted his time to writing, synthesizing his interests in interactive psychology, Eastern and Western philosophies, science, futurism, ecology, history, and mysticism.


Joy of Cooking – Irma Rombauer

Book image - Joy of CookingSelf-published in 1931, this book has sold over 18 million copies. Five years after Rombauer self-published the book, Bobbs-Merrill Company acquired the rights to it.




Still Alice – Lisa Genova

Book image - Still AliceLisa Genova self-published Still Alice through iUniverse. in 2009. Later, Simon and Schuster published it, and the book was translated into twenty languages. The book was on the New York Bestsellers list for forty weeks. Lisa Genova is a neuroscientist as well as an author. Still Alice is about a Harvard University professor suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Other bestsellers include Inside the O’Briens, Left Neglected, and Love Anthony.


Wool Trilogy – Hugh Howey

Book image - The Wool TrilogyThe Wool Trilogy began as a short story Howie self-published through Amazon. Howie expanded on the series, and due to its popularity, Simon and Schuster bought the rights for half a million dollars. Later, Howie sold the film rights.




Publishing your book through a trade publisher does not guarantee success. Self-publishing your book does not guarantee success either. Effort is required to be successful. Having a great product (your book) in your hand is only one step of many steps needed for success. Authors need author platforms, and this is discussed here: Digital & Web Services. Authors need to be motivated and goal oriented. The motivated author will be successful when self-publishing their book, because they are focused and determined.