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5 Famous Authors Who Got Their Start Self-Publishing

There are plenty of authors who have made it big after getting rejected from publishing companies or simply self-starting their career through self-publishing. If you’re a writer thinking about self-publishing your next book, it may help to get a little inspiration from authors who have made it big after getting their start self-publishing. Read their success stories and start your own.

  1. David Chilton – The Wealthy Barber
    David Chilton, a Canadian financial advisor, wrote a book called The Wealthy Barber in 1989, which focuses on fictional characters who sought financial advice from a local barber. The book sought to give people with little financial experience advice on investing. Chilton self-published the book, and it ended up being one of the best-selling Canadian books of all time, selling over two million copies. He now owns his own financial planning company and publishing company. 
  2. E.L. James – 50 Shades of Grey
    If you’ve been on social media at all in the past couple of years, you’ve probably heard about the 50 Shades of Grey Series. The erotic romance series has been widely successful in popular culture and there have been 70 million copies of the combined novels sold worldwide. While the novels were published under Random House, E.L James started writing early versions of the book on fan fiction sites as a response to the Twilight trilogy. She gained popularity and fans through these sites, which is why she decided to write the books in full.
  3. William P. Young – The Shack
    William P. Young is an evangelical Christian Canadian author who is famous for his religiously focused novels. Young started writing as a way to give his family members and children special gifts that helped to explain his beliefs in God. After friends and families encouraged him to write something special to leave for his children, Young wrote The Shack. He self-published the book, and through a website and word-of-mouth, the book became a USA Today and New York Times Best Seller and has sold 10 million copies since its original publication. 
  4. (and 5.) Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman – In Search of Excellence
    Peters and Waterman, two former management consultants at McKinsey & Company, wrote In Search of Excellence, which explores the art and science of best management practices used in the 1980s. Waterman and Peters began writing the book as two separate projects they were working on for McKinsey. After giving presentations and lectures about their work, they ended up writing the book and publishing. They sold 25,000 copies directly to consumers in the first year and then went on to sell the rights to a publishing company. Since then, they've sold more than 10 million copies.
Last Updated: July 27, 2015