Bestselling Authors Who Started Out Self-Published

It’s every self-published author’s dream: your painstakingly written novel (otherwise known as your baby) climbs the rankings on Amazon and before you know it you’re hitting the bestseller lists. The ultimate self-publishing success story. While it doesn’t always happen this way, there are some who have succeeded and sometimes it helps to be reminded that it can happen.


Here are five authors who will hopefully encourage you to keep chugging along!


James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy: Self-published in 1993, Redfield had 100,000 copies that he gave away/sold out of his trunk until he was picked up by Warner Books. By 1995 The Celestine Prophecy was the top American book in the world and by 1996 it was the number one best seller internationally as well. It also spent three years on the New York Bestseller list and is one of the best “word of mouth” examples out there.

H.M. Ward, Damaged: Although she has never signed on with a traditional publishing house, popular author H.M. Ward is still considered a current New York Best-selling author. She started by publishing her first novel, Damaged, on Amazon and has now sold over 4 million copies of her books which now include the popular Ferro Family saga.

Lisa Genova, Still Alice: This debut novel by neuroscientist Lisa Genova has been a win for the first time author. Detailing the struggle of a women with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Still Alice was originally self-published with iUniverse before being picked up by Simon & Schuster. Now with the film adaptation of the book, it looks like Lisa Genova has a great success on her hands!

E.L. James, Fifty Shades Trilogy: Possibly the most well known story of an author hitting it big in the last few years, E.L. James’ success with the Fifty Shades trilogy is astounding. While not truly self-published, it was certainly not done in the traditional way. Starting out as Twilight fan fiction, James eventually put together Fifty Shades and had it published in eBook format and print on demand by a small independant company in Australia. James’ novels quickly shot to the top of the bestseller lists and she soon had a movie deal on her hands.

Amanda Hocking, The Trylle Trilogy: One of my favorite self-publishing stories, Hocking was only making $18,000 a year before her novels started selling like crazy on Amazon. Within months she was making $9,000 a month and quickly joined the likes of Nora Roberts and James Patterson by selling over 1 million copies of her book on Kindle.

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