Self – Publishing 6 Authors Who Prove It CAN Be Done


Finding a publisher is not an easy task. Rejection has become synonymous with writing and many become so dejected that they just give up on the idea of ever being published. But don’t – self-publishing is a viable and doable option to get your book on the shelves.

There are many out there who snub their noses at the notion of self publishing with some even branding it ‘vanity publishing’, traditionally thinking that it does not go hand in hand with commercial success.

This is not actually true.

There are lots of examples going back to the classics of successful self-publishers, from Beatrix Potter to Edgar Allen and Marcel Proust.

The trend continues today and here, we show you 5 examples of top modern day authors who began their journey through self-publishing.


Something many people don’t know about J.K. Rowling is that she owns the digital rights to the Harry Potter Books. Her original publisher –Bloomsbury in the UK – never purchased them and they were never sold to any of her subsequent international publishers. Rowling’s publishers around the world have claimed they are “publishing in partnership” with her. Scholastic said that they would be paid a percentage by Rowling in exchange for “marketing and promotion” support. Not for being her publisher, because she is publishing the e-books. She controls the rights. She is publishing. Essentially, she is self-publishing. One could say that what she is doing is more “pure” self-publishing because she is cutting out the retailers and exclusively selling direct to the public through her own website.


This woman from Minnesota wrote more than seventeen novels with not one of them finding any success with the publishing houses. Refusing to give up she went on to self-publish these novels in the form of eBooks and gained huge success going on to sell millions of copies. Her big break came when St Martin’s Press then went on to buy the rights to her first three novels for 2 million dollars. Her success in the commercial book world in both the US and the UK continues.


Who has not heard of the controversial Fifty Shades of Grey series by possibly the most well-known modern self-publishing success stories author, E.L. James? Back in 2011, E.L James self-published her first book to critical reviews and no notion of the phenomenal success that would come from it. Fifty Shades of Grey quickly became an international best seller with over 100 million copies sold worldwide making E.L. James a kind of poster child for self-publishing success!.


Back in 1997 Robert Kiyosaki wrote a book giving financial advice that was considered ‘radical’ at the time. Every publisher rejected the book because it challenged traditional ideas of how to save and how to acquire wealth. Not deterred Kiyosaki went on to self-publish his book titles Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and very soon it hit the New York Times bestsellers list and caught the attention of talk show queen Oprah Winfrey. This lead to a chain of events and the birth of an empire. What began as a humble self-published book with a print run of 1000 copies grew into a global phenomenon and a series of Rich Dad, Poor Dad books with global sales of more than 35 million!


If there is an example of an aspiring author that refused to give up, then this is your man. After writing for more than ten years with no success, Sullivan stopped writing for a decade before finally giving it another crack, only to face further rejection at the hands of publishing houses once again. Fed up with being told that he could not do it he decided to self-publish his book The Riyira Revelations which became a phenomenal success and has seen him become one of America’s leading writers of epic fantasy and science fiction. In 2019 io9 named him one of the “Most Successful Self-Published Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors”. His books have now been translated into fourteen languages – not bad for a man that couldn’t cut a break!


Lisa Genova was still at grad school studying neuroscience when grandmother was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s. This family tragedy became the platform for her debut into the world of writing and the inspiration for the book Still Alice, which tells the story of a Harvard professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. After being rejected by every publishing house that she pitched her manuscript to, Genova made the decision in 2007 to self publish. After gaining readers and popularity around the world, the book was picked up by Simon & Schuster in 2009 and has even been adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Julianne Moore. This decision to self-publish in her early days has propelled this incredible writer and neuroscientist onto the New York Times best selling list and cemented her place as a critically acclaimed author.

Looking at these success stories it is easy to see that self-publishing is a viable option to success. So if you are meeting roadblocks with publishing houses perhaps it’s time to delve into the world of self-publishing.