Self Published Bestsellers

Self Published Bestsellers Self published novels are a hard sell. The authors often have to do a lot of work just to “break even. Yet, there were some self published novels that are now considered classics. Laurence Sterne had to borrow money and do his own marketing for Tristram Shandy.(M) Virginia Woolf self-published her final novel Between the Acts.(M)  
Other famous novelists who self published include Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Jane Austin. More modern writers include Zane Grey, Gertrude Stein, Mark Twain, Frank L. Baum, etc… There are now a number of authors who are taking it upon themselves to self publish their novel on e-book format, including J.K. Rowling.

In keeping with the season I have included The Christmas Box (M) by Richard Paul Evans. This is one novel that keeps on giving to its author and others. Evans originally wrote this novel for his children and was encouraged to self-publish in 1993. As an advertising executive he knew how to promote the novel and it was a local best-seller in Utah bookstores. This received attention from major publishers in a bidding wars resulting in Evans earning millions of dollars for the rights. It has since been made into a trilogy of books and movies.

The story of the a woman mourning at the base of an angel statue has turned into a reality. When Evan heard that grieving parents were seeking out the statue, Evans commissioned an angel statue matching the one in the book. In 1994 Salt Lake City, Utah unveiled the first statue and since then there have been at least 25 more erected in various cities. Evans has also created the charity Christmas Box International which provides shelters and services for abused and negligent children.

Self Published Bestsellers The Shack (M) is another religion themed novel. Canadian William P. Young, a former office manager and hotel night clerk published the novel in 2007. He originally intended the story for his six children and a handful of close friends, printing just 15 copies. Two of his close friends encouraged him to have it published. When it was rejected by 26 publishers they created their own publishing company, Windblown Media. The company only spent $200 on advertising the novel and boy did that work out! The novel became a USA Today and New York Times best seller. In 2009 it was awarded the Diamond Award for sales of over 10 million copies by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Young has stated the title is a metaphor for “the house you build out of your own pain.” Mack is struggling with the pain of his young daughters disappearance. He takes a trip to the shack where he meets “Papa” Jesus and Sarayu. This novel has “haunted” a few of my co-workers for months and it may have the same effect on you.

Self Published Bestsellers I should have included this novel in my blog about The Hobbit read-alikes. Eragon (M) is a novel that amazed me. Christopher Paolini was 15 when he began writing the first in his Inheritance Cycle series. Paolini was home schooled and after graduating at the age of 15 he began to write. His parents saw the final manuscript for Eragonand decided to self-publish it. Paolini spent a year traveling around the US to promote the novel. Carl Hiaason’s stepson brought it to the famed author’s attention in the summer of 2002. Hiaason got it re-published by Alfred A. Knopf. At the age of 19 Paolini became a New York Times bestselling author, appearing on the list for 121 weeks! To date the series has sold more that 25 million copies. Paolini has stated that he was influenced by old myths, folk tales, medieval stories, Beowulfand J.R. Tolkien. He has deliberately included stereotypical archetypal items to his books – a quest, revenge, romance, betrayal and a “special” sword. He has even created an ancient language for the elves. Brilliant!

Here are some other successful self-published works:

Invisible LifeE. Lynn Harris (M)

The Celestine ProphecyJames Redfield (M)

ShadowmancerG.P. Taylor (M)

Still AliceLisa Genova (M)

So it is possible to earn millions in book sales, even if you have been rejected by publishers. Go out there and write. You never know you maybe will have a best seller waiting to happen!


The Best Giver – a NOVICA Giveaway

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Favourite Friday: December 14 Edition