Getting a major publishing deal has never been easy, but today it seems tougher than ever. What with all of the videogames, movies, and other forms of entertainment out there, books are just not selling like they used to, and it seems like publishers aren’t too keen to take on new writers.
Even Stephen King and J.K. Rowling talk about their years of rejection until that one publisher decided to take a chance. But what about those writers out there who won’t settle for years of hearing “no?” What about those who just get fed up? Well, for some, self-publishing has been the answer. So check out this list of the self-published superstars of the past and present.
In the early 1800’s Poe turned this first public work over to a local label and flyer printer after being rejected by several publishers. Only about 50 copies were printed of the 40-page book and today, at only about 12 copies still in existence, these are considered one of the rarest first editions in American Literature.
Several publishers rejected this classic children’s book initially, but in 1901 Potter decided to print the book and distribute it herself. After some success, Frederick Warne and Co. began printing it as a trade edition and in the years that followed multiple reprints were issued. Today with over 45 million copies sold, this self-published book is one of the bestselling of all time.
Today this cookbook is in just about every kitchen, and so it might surprise you to find out that it started as a privately published book. In 1931 the label maker AC Clayton printed just 3,000 copies of the cookbook. In 1936, the publisher Bobb-Merrill picked up The Joy of Cooking and since, it has sold more than 18 million copies.
Locke became the first author to sell more than a million e-books without a publishing deal—in just five months. He used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. The Lethal Series includes nine books and Locke has published several others as well, including one book aptly called How I sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! (Check it out for tips on your own book!) Today the publishing company Simon & Schuster sell print editions of the books.
Three year ago, Michael Prescott’s debut novel, Riptide, was rejected by about 25 publishers. Disheartened, he turned to self-publishing as a last resort. And boy did it pay off. Today he is one of a handful of self-published authors whose e-books made the lists of 2011’s bestsellers. E-books are generally sold at about 99 cents per download, and with all of those downloads going on, Prescott says he earned about $300,000 in just a year.
This latest and greatest in the world of self-publishing, wrote 17 books, all of which were rejected by agents and publishers. As a last resort, Hocking decided to publish one of those books, the first in The Trylle Trilogy, on Amazon. Today, these paranormal books are being printed online and in print by St. Martin’s Press and have even been optioned for adaptation as a series of movies.
And writers around the world, take heart: if they can do it, so can you. Tune in next week when we’ll go over just how to publish your own writing. Who knows, you could be the next Edgar Allen Poe!
Have you or somebody you know ever self-published something? Spread the word on your book and share your experience below!