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Successful authors who self-published: WTTB’s Top Ten

We bet you didn’t know these authors are self-published! Thinking of self-publishing but worrying about how successful you will be? Get inspired at WTTB now.

Question: what do the following have in common?

The creator of a much-loved band of forest creatures, the woman behind one of the steamiest mainstream tales in recent memory and the master of the horror genre?

Answer: they all started their successful careers by self-publishing.

The days when cutting out a mainstream publisher and doing it yourself was the provence of those who wanted to produce something with limited appeal or were merely propelled by vanity are long since gone.

While there’s no doubt that it’s a busy old publishing world out there and you have to support your creation with some first-class digital marketing and marketing materials, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t cut out the traditional route of finding an agent, who finds you a publisher, who might then do you a deal.

Now you can simply do it yourself and produce smart, professional looking books at a reasonable price that you can unleash upon the world – and hopefully turn out your very own best seller!

It may be a family memoir, a book of well-loved recipes or a novel which will appeal to a particular genre.

The secret is to commit – and who knows where it may be lead?

And just to give you some inspiration – here’s our top ten guide to the most successful authors who started life by self-publishing…


If you were a woman in the 1900s then getting published was virtually impossible. Beatrix Potter was laughed at when she tried to get someone to bring The Tale of Peter Rabbit to print – so she self-published 250 copies.

The success led to her getting a deal a year later and she went on to write more than 30 books – amassing a fortune.


The 50 Shades of Grey trilogy has gone on to sell more than 100 million copies and became one of the fastest selling paperback in history. It was a far cry fromEL James’starting point – a self-published piece of erotic fiction created as a tribute to the Twilight vampire series.


The American literary giant and creator of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn had a traditional publishing deal but was so fed up with working with companies that he decided to self-publish.

Along with Huckleberry Finn, he also had a huge amount of success with Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant.


Irma may not be a familiar name but her The Joy of Cooking cookbook is a favourite throughout the world and has been in almost constant print since the 1930s.

Although it was eventually snapped up by a mainstream publisher and has sold more than 20 million copies, it was Irma herself who printed the first 3000 copies back in 1931.


The former solicitor turned crime writer is famous for her books about the detective, DCI Ryan and she is now an international best seller.

She turned down a traditional deal and has gone on to sell more than four million e-books and print copies.

The entrepreneur is now launching her own imprint so her hard copies can be sold in bookstores.


One of the most celebrated horror writers in the world, Stephen King has sold more than 350 million books worldwide and had many of his stories turned into movies – think IT, Carrie, The Fog and The Shawshank Redemption.

Less well known is the fact that, at the age of 15, King set up his own publishing company which produced a book of his short stories.


Lisa Genova’s touching book, Still Alice, became an Oscar winning movie, with Julianne Moore in the title role as a linguistics professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 50.

Although now critically acclaimed, initially the writer decided to publish the story herself after being constantly rejected.


The screen adaptation of Andy Weir’s book, The Martian, also received an Oscar nomination, with Matt Damon in the title role.

It wasn’t always a success however, with Weir sitting on his manuscript because he didn’t believe a publisher would pick it up.

Instead, he released small portions of it on a blog, which created enough interest to give him the confidence to self-publish.


Self-published books don’t always have to be a fictional novel – just ask Robert Kiyosaki. The businessman wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad, which is now widely recognised as the best-selling personal finance book of all time.

Now worth more than $100m, he too decided to publish his book himself after being repeatedly turned down.


The creator of the haunting, Dystopian story, The Handmaid’s Tale, is an internationally recognised and renowned writer.

Her first foray into the written word was under her own steam however – a self-published book of poetry called Double Persephone.

I’m inspired – what do I do now?

At WTTB, you can print your very own hardback book, so why not get it self-published? We’ve taken the hard work out of publishing, and have launched our own Book Super Centre so you can be on your way to be the next literary giant – so what are you waiting for?


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