Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being. A. A. Milne
I’m not scared to self-publish but not being the impulsive sort, just leery. Still, I’m definitely leaning toward taking the plunge. Yes, I’ve read about the authors who have had amazing success self-publishing in this age of e-readers. Most of them write male adventure novels, romance, sci-fi or other genres of fantasy, or erotica. I write none of those. Fear of middling success doesn’t stop me, but fear of failure altogether? For sure.
If you’re like me, you might like to think about these three famous authors–so different from one another–who initially self-published their books, went on to be picked up by traditional publishers and whose books are still best sellers today. They began in the days before e-publishing but I don’t think that tiny detail is important. What all three had in common was a belief in their book and the confidence to take a chance.
Beatrix Potter, The Adventures of Peter Rabbit
Beatrix Potter’s life reads a little like that of a renaissance woman. She was highly educated; artistic; curious, with a love of nature and fantasy; and moved in a world filled with educated and privileged people, as she was. She first published her book of stories and artwork, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, meaning only to share it with family and friends. It was soon picked up by a book publisher and has never been out of print since.
Irma S. Rombauer, The Joy of Cooking
Irma was a traditional homemaker who found herself in financial difficulties after the death (suicide) of her lawyer husband. Struggling through the Depression, she found success with something she did well: preparing food and exploring cuisine. In 1936 she self-published The Joy of Cooking and proceeded to sell it herself. It was picked up by a commercial publisher soon after.
David Chilton, The Wealthy Barber
As a young financial planner, David Chilton self-published his book, The Wealthy Barber, when times were tough economically (1989). His first and biggest sale went to his grandmother. David’s book was different; written in the style of a novel rather than a traditional, non-fiction book of financial advice. Gradually his sales increased until it became a Canadian best seller and today is considered a brand name.
So, revise, revise and revise again, and polish that sense of confidence. That’s the first, most important step to remember. Let me know how you feel about self-publishing.