Submit. Get rejected. Submit again. Get rejected once more.
If this feels familiar to you as a writer, you are not alone. Most published authors today were rejected at least once in their lives, but today, with the advent of digital publishing, it’s become that much easier to take your work to your reader. Yes, we are talking about self-publishing.
But if you think self-publishing is a recent phenomenon, and does not do anything beyond just having your book on an Amazon or getting it printed for friends and family, think again. Here are 5 instances where self-published writers whose books went on to become huge bestsellers:
The Celestine Prophecy
A must-read book if you’re into new-age spirituality, this staple of the hippie circuit was self-published by its author, who went on to sell 100,000 copies out of the trunk of his Honda before Warner Books published it in 1994. As of now, the book has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. You read that right. 20 million copies!
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Most children across the world today will have been brought up on the adventures of Peter the Rabbit, but not many know that the book was rejected by every publisher. “Some publishers wanted a shorter book, others a longer one. But most wanted coloured illustrations which by 1900 were both popular and affordable”. Ultimately, Potter self-published 250 copies for a small set of friends, before Frederick Warne & Co, who had earlier shown interest but did not follow up, picked it up to be published. Today, Peter Rabbit stories sell 2 million copies each year, and the first book has to date sold over 45 million copies, making it one of the world’s highest selling books!
The Immortals of Meluha
One of the highest-selling books in India, The Immortals of Meluha is now a household name in the country. However, not many know that almost every Indian publisher rejected the book, and it was ultimately published by his agent and marketed by the author himself. Soon, it became a hit, before Westland Books stepped in and became his publishers. “My agent Anuj Bahri from Red Ink paid for the printing costs. I paid for the marketing. And we partnered with Westland, my current publishers, when it came to distribution across the country.” Today, the Meluha series has sold over a million copies in India.
The Rozabal Line
Ashwin Sanghi may today be India’s highest-selling thriller writer, but when he wrote his first book, The Rozabal Line, he didn’t find too many takers for it. “I had self-published my first novel The Rozabal Line via a US-based self-publishing platform called Lulu.com which had just set up shop. The year was 2007,” he wrote in a book. After seeking out several distributors here in India who could distribute the book for him here, Sanghi ultimately met with the owners of Landmark bookstores, who put him in touch with Westland Books. The rest, as they say, is history.
50 Shades of Grey
The book that made BDSM a household word and gave rise to the genre known as ‘mommy-porn’, 50 Shades of Grey was born out of a fan fiction of another mega-seller, Twilight. James, who self-published the book first on fan fiction sites and then on her website before switching to a self-published ebook and a print-on-demand physical edition, wanted to write a steamier version of Twilight. When her book began to create a buzz online, Vintage Books UK stepped in and bought the rights. Today, it’s sold 125 million copies across the world!
Still think self-publishing is not the right way to go? Think again.