Self-publishing has become a popular option for writers who want to bypass traditional publishing houses and bring their work directly to readers. Thanks to platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, and IngramSpark it’s never been easier to self-publish and market a book.
That said, is self-publishing a viable path to success? To answer that question, let’s examine some of the most successful self-published authors of recent years.
Let’s start with Andy Weir, author of the best-selling novel “The Martian.” Weir began writing “The Martian” as a series of blog posts, eventually self-publishing it on Amazon for just 99 cents. The book quickly gained a cult following, and Weir was soon contacted by publishers interested in acquiring the rights. He eventually signed a six-figure deal with Crown Publishing, and “The Martian” went on to become a New York Times bestseller and a hit movie. Not bad for a first book!
Let’s have a look at his marketing strategy. One key factor in Weir’s success was his willingness to share his work online for free. By posting “The Martian” as a series of blog posts, he was able to build a huge following and generate buzz around the book. He also made use of social media to connect with readers and promote his work, often engaging with fans directly to answer questions and offer behind-the-scenes glimpses into the writing process. This is platform building 101 and Weir executed it brilliantly.
Another self-publishing success story is that of Mark Dawson, author of the John Milton thriller series. Dawson began self-publishing his novels on Amazon in 2013, and within a year had sold over 350,000 copies. He eventually signed a six-figure deal with a traditional publisher but continues to self-publish and market his work.
Dawson’s successful marketing strategy was his use of paid advertising on platforms like Facebook and Amazon. By carefully targeting his ads to readers who were likely to enjoy his books, he was able to generate significant sales and build a loyal fanbase. He also made use of book bloggers and other influencers to promote his work, often offering free copies of his books in exchange for reviews and social media shares.
Joanna Penn is another self-publishing success story. Penn began self-publishing in 2008 and has since sold over 500,000 copies of her non-fiction books on writing and publishing. She also runs a popular blog and podcast on writing and self-publishing and has become a sought-after speaker and consultant in the industry.
One key factor in Penn’s success was her willingness to share her knowledge and expertise with others. By offering valuable advice and insights on her blog and podcast, she was able to build a following and establish herself as an authority in the industry. She also made use of social media to connect with readers and promote her work.
Hugh Howey is another self-publishing success story. Howey self-published his post-apocalyptic novel “Wool” as a series of novellas on Amazon in 2011. The series gained a devoted following and attracted the attention of traditional publishers, but Howey chose to continue self-publishing. He eventually signed a six-figure deal with Simon & Schuster for the print rights to “Wool,” but retained the ebook and audiobook rights himself.
One factor in Howey’s success was his willingness to experiment with pricing and distribution. He initially priced the “Wool” novellas at just 99 cents each and made the first one available for free. He also made use of Amazon’s Kindle Select program, which allows authors to offer their books for free for a limited time. This helped to boost sales and generate positive reviews, further building his reputation as an author to watch. Today, “Wool” has been adapted into a miniseries by Apple TV+ called “SILO,” further cementing Howey’s status.
As you can see, self-publishing has become a popular and viable option for writers seeking creative control and financial success. The success stories of Joanna Penn and Andy Weir demonstrate that self-publishing can lead to incredible achievements, both in terms of sales and traditional publishing deals. Hugh Howey, in particular, has become an advocate for self-publishing, arguing that it offers writers greater creative control and financial rewards than traditional publishing. With the rise of digital platforms like Amazon, Kobo, and Apple Books, self-publishing has never been more accessible. Whether you are a new author or an established writer looking for a change, self-publishing can be a path to success that you might want to consider.
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