In 1931, Irma Rombauer wrote “The Joy of Cooking,” with her daughter, who both illustrated the book, but also tested the recipes. Ms. Rombauer used half of her life savings to pay a local printing company to print three thousand copies. Five years later, Bobbs-Merrill Company acquired the rights and the book has now sold over 18 million copies.
Amanda Hocking wrote 17 novels while working as a group home worker in Minnesota. She self-published them all as e-books and wound up selling more than a million copies. In 2011, St. Martin’s Press bought the rights to her first three books, the Trylle trilogy, and a new four-book series, Watersong, for a reported two million dollars.
Erika Leonard (E.L. James) started writing fan fiction stories and publishing them on her website. Then she wrote “Fifty Shades of Grey and self-published it through a small Australian company. That trilogy has gone on to sell more than 70 million copies.
Self-publishing lets authors focus on the joys of writing and reaching an audience. In the old days, you could write the best novel in the world and if a traditional publisher didn’t like it, its chances of finding fans was close to zero. Dozens of publishers rejected Stephen King’s first Novel, “Carrie.” Over twenty publishers rejected “Lord of the Flies.” J.K. Rowling got rejected by several publishers for “Harry Potter.” One publisher even criticized “Catch-22” by saying “I haven’t the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say…Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level.”
Why go the traditional publishing route if clueless publishers can hold the fate of your novel in the hands of a single editor who can block your book from ever reaching an audience? Just self-publish your books and build your own fan base. As long as you have something interesting to say and you keep writing, you’ll find your flan base eventually. For some people it may take longer than others, but a book empire always starts out by selling one copy at a time, so don’t give up and remember, rejection doesn’t mean denial. The more you write and self-publish, the more you tips the odds in your favor that you’ll find success as a writer.