Many famous books first were self-published

All too often self-publishing gets a bad rap as a last resort of authors whose writing wasn’t good enough to be accepted by one of the Big Five publishers. Never mind the long explanation of how big corporate publishing actually is something new, a product of the past century that worked then because the economics of creating and distributing a book ensured its success and that new technology now makes big publishing an anomaly (and passing era) in the history of books.

Instead, let’s take the argument head-on by showing there are a lot of famous, successful authors who self-published because corporate publishing couldn’t recognize the book’s value…or just as bad, their business model for profits didn’t allow for quality books to be printed and distributed.

Here’s a list of famous authors and books that were self-published (and often later picked up by a corporate publisher):
• Alan Lawrence’s “The Hoopster”
• Ben Kaplan’s “How to Go College Almost for Free”
• Christopher Polini’s “Eragon”
• Henry Martyn Robert’s “Robert’s Rules of Order”
• Ken Blanchard’s “The One Minute Manager”
• Lisa Genova’s “Still Alice”
• James Joyce’s “Ulysses”
• James Redfield’s “The Celestine Prophecy”
• John Bartlett’s “Bartlett’s Familiar Quoations”
• John Muir’s “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive”
• J. Patrick Wright’s “On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors”
• Michael Stradther’s “A Treasure’s Trove”
• Nancy Tillman’s “On the Night You Were Born”
• Peter McWilliams’ “How to Survive the Loss of a Love
• Richard Nelson Bolles’ “What Color is Yor Parachute?”
• Richard Paul Evans’ “The Christmas Box”
• Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad
• Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved My Cheese?”
• Vicki Lansky’s “Feed Me! I’m Yours
• Wess Roberts’ “Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun
• William C. Byham’s Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment”
• William Strunk, Jr.’s “The Elements of Style”
• Zane Grey’s “Betty Zane”

You’ve probably heard of at least most of the above titles. They (and there are many more) all went on to hit the bestseller’s list, sell hundreds of thousands (and sometimes even millions) of copies, and often after the book’s success the author was offered a major publishing deal.

Bottom line: Self-publishing isn’t a last resort. It’s a way to prove yourself when others doubt you.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.