Chris A. Baird | July 13, 2023
15 Famous Self Published Authors You Need to Know

There are a lot of self-publishers who are doing very well in the field of self-publishing. But let me tell you the 15 famous self published authors you need to know.

One of the challenges that authors have is figuring out whether or not self-publishing is the right option or traditional publishing. Many of the fears around this are that if you choose to go the self-publishing route, you're going to get stuck there and not be able to transition to the traditional side.

That's one of the reasons why in today's topic, we're going to completely break this down and show you why that is not the case. So, in "Why You Need to Know," we are going to talk about 15 famous self-published authors you need to know.

The reason you need to know isn't just for some random thing. It's so that you can see that you can start with self-publishing and then move over to traditional publishing. This is a very powerful route that has worked for many self-published authors who wish to transition to the traditional side.

That's fine, or you can also just stay self-published if you want. But it gives you a lot of options that are available to you. The first one, Margaret Atwood, is one of the most successful self-published authors. The thing with her is that she's a Canadian author, poet, and literary critic.

She's mostly known for her writing, including "The Handmaid's Tale," "Oryx and Crake," and the "MaddAddam" Trilogy. Now, I've read "The Handmaid's Tale" and the sequel to that as well. I would say she's a fantastic author who has received numerous awards for her contributions to literature, including the Booker Prize.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Franz Kafka Prize are well-known and respected literary awards. Margaret Atwood, our previously mentioned author, has received these accolades. She originally started as a self-published author.

Check out this related article: 30 Book Awards for Self Published Authors in 2023

Number two is Robert Kiyosaki, one of my favorite authors in the field of entrepreneurship. He is an American author, entrepreneur, and investor. He is best known for his series, "Rich Dad Poor Dad," which established the concept of passive income and had a significant impact.

If you're a self-published author, this directly relates to making money while you sleep by selling your books on platforms like Amazon. Robert Kiyosaki doesn't just focus on one aspect; he explores the entire realm of finance, including different financial quadrants, cash flow, and various strategies for digital assets and real estate.

Real estate is where he started and gained a lot of knowledge. He has now published 26 books, and I have personally read most of them, around 20. Robert Kiyosaki is one of the most influential financial advisors in the world today, a well-known powerhouse, and an accomplished self-published author.

It's truly amazing because, if I remember correctly, I read a story that publishers initially hesitated to take a chance on the concept behind "Rich Dad Poor Dad. It turned out to be a huge mistake on the traditional publisher's side for not taking Robert Kiyosaki's book.

Number three is Lisa Genova (I think it's Genova). She is an American author and neuroscientist known for her novels that explore the impact of neurological disorders on individuals and their families. Some of her notable works include "Still Alice," which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film.

Lisa Genova holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard and utilizes her expertise to inform her writing and raise awareness about neurological conditions. I haven't read any of her books yet. Another self-published author, number four, is Wayne Dyer.

He was an American author, multi-motivational speaker, and self-help guru who has written a variety of works, including "Your Erroneous Zones" and "The Power of Intention." He has written a total of 40 books on personal development.

Although I haven't read any of his books, he teaches about the importance of self-improvement, self-awareness, positive thinking, and more. Our fifth self-published author is Irma Rombauer, an American cookbook author. I can tell you that I have purchased Irma's book, which is none other than "The Joy of Cooking."

She started writing this book during the Great Depression as a way to help families prepare affordable and nutritious meals during difficult times. That's when the book originally came out. I was a little bit shocked when I was doing some research on Irma to see just exactly what it had done.

So, how many of these books has she sold? She has self-published 18 million copies. Now, one of the things to remember is that many of them get signing deals with major publishing houses once they have self-published. But this is a way in which they're able to already build an audience and show the traditional publishers that people are willing to purchase their books. And so, that impacts it. 

Realizing the Power of Self-Publishing

Number six is Andy Weir. He's an American science fiction author, and he's best known for one of my favorite science fiction books, which is "The Martian," both the book and the film. It was originally just a free serialized story on his website before it was picked up by a publisher and turned into a bestselling novel.

You have to keep in mind, though, that it was just self-published and put out there for absolutely free. It was then turned into a successful film in 2015, with Matt Damon starring as Mark Watney. Fantastic film, and a great book. Another self-published author and I've read a whole number of his additional books that came after this one, so definitely worth a read.

And remember, as we're moving through this, the power of self-publishing. If you start with self-publishing, you can move on to traditional publishing and even films and all sorts of stuff. Number seven.

This is one of the older ones, Beatrix Potter, and she's a British author and illustrator best known for her children's books, including The Tales of Peter Rabbit, which is what I grew up listening to or not listening to, but I grew up having them read to me and reading them myself. Potter's love of nature and animals inspired her stories, as she was also big on conservationism and philanthropy.

So, a lot of things are there in her books. How many of these books have this self-publisher sold? 150 million copies and has been translated into 35 languages, making her one of the most beloved and influential children's authors of all time.

So, Beatrix Potter, which is a little bit shocking when you start to think about it, but yeah, she self-published. The next one, another famous one from the old days, would be Mark Twain. He's an American writer, humorist, and lecturer, best known for his novels "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

And you have to keep in mind, his start was also self-published. He was not some traditional publisher back in the day. So, Twain's writing often addressed social issues, and is well known for his satire, wit, and humor in the books he's done.

He has a huge legacy as a writer and cultural icon, including his influence on American literature and popular culture to today. Stephen King, a self-published author. So, you're noticing a pattern here. These are famous people who all started with self-publishing.

Here's one you may not know, though. It was number nine, Stephen King. That's right, even though, of course, his books are now published under traditional publishing houses, his very first one was a self-published book. He's known for horror, suspense, and supernatural fiction.

I've read a lot of his books and I can recommend them. Many of them have been turned into screenplays as well. He's a self-published author. So, how many novels has he published? Sixty novels and 200 short stories, with many of them adapted into films, TV shows, and even comic books.

Check out this related article: Amazon Kindle Self Publishing Guidelines for Authors in 2023

His writing style is characterized by vivid characterizations and sharp dialogues. He has a talent for creating suspense and fear in his readers. According to my kids, I think it was maybe the scariest book that he wrote, which is kind of cool if you think about it. The idea of getting started with self-publishing and then just putting out book after book.

He also did a non-fiction book called "On Writing," which is also definitely worth a read, especially for aspiring authors. Number 10 is E.L. James. She's a British author best known for the romance novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" and its sequels. This was a self-published book, and the trilogy has sold over 150 million copies worldwide.

It explores intense romantic relationships and delves into BDSM, sexual desire, and power dynamics. She is considered one of the most successful romance authors of our time. One other thing to note is that if you look at the number of reviews, you're looking at an average of three to three and a half stars.

This is amazing because you don't need that many stars on your reviews to get your books to sell, and E.L. James has proved that case. You can sell a lot of books even as a self-published author.

Learning from the Famous Self-Publishers

Number 11 is Michael J. Sullivan. He's an American author known for his epic fantasies, including the Riyria Revelations and the Riyria Chronicles series. They've been translated into a dozen languages. His writing style includes world-building and complex characters, with epic storytelling.

He's considered one of the most successful independent authors in the fantasy genre and is self-published. Now, I probably should read some of Michael's books, but up to this point, I have not yet gotten around to it. Next, at number 12, we have John Grisham. I know it seems kind of crazy that John Grisham would be a self-published author, but that's exactly right.

You have to keep in mind that you start by self-publishing and then, after that, you end up getting picked up quickly by a major publishing house once you've proven there's an audience interested in what you're doing. He's an author and a former attorney, which is, of course, why he writes a lot of legal thrillers, including "The Firm," "The Pelican Brief," and "A Time to Kill."

I've read some of his books, and I've seen most of the films that have been done. How many copies have his books sold? 300 million copies worldwide and translated into 42 languages, as he explores themes like justice and corruption in the legal system.

I can tell you, I've learned quite a bit from reading his books. "Rainmaker" was one of them that I remember reading as an audiobook when traveling. Fantastic author and a self-published author at that. Number 13 is John Locke. He's a famous American author known for the Donovan Creed and Emmett Love series.

Now, I have not read these, but John Locke sold one million ebooks in five months. The thing is, he's considered one of the pioneers of self-publishing, coming out with his books as an indie author in the early 2010s. Imagine, as an author, if you could come out with books back then.

But that was the thing, and they've sold over 2 million copies. He's known for his fast-paced, humorous writing style that makes it popular. His ability to connect with his audiences quickly using social media and other digital platforms is what has helped him as a self-published author.

He may be one of these people who are the pioneers of self-publishing. It's a key thing to think about with him. Next, at number 14, we have William P. Young. William is the author and the best-selling novel "The Shack." Now, I have heard about that, but I haven't read it. It's like a religious book where God is.

I can't remember, it was a woman or something like that. I don't remember the details of it. It's just a different way of looking at religion. "The Shack" was originally written as a Christmas gift for his children and friends. There you go, a self-published book just written for his friends. And the book was self-published and later became a bestseller, selling over 20 million copies worldwide.

Check out this related article: 15 Best Self Publishing Blogs for Aspiring Authors in 2023

I have not read it myself, though. Christopher Paolini, do let me know in the comments if you have, though. Number 15, Christopher Paolini. Sometimes I lose these names. Anyway, Christopher is the author of the best-selling adult series, The Inheritance Cycle. This one's fantastic.

He wrote his first book in the series, "Eragon," when he was 15 years old. I want you to imagine that at 15 years old, he self-published it with the help of his family and later signed a publishing deal. The thing to remember with Christopher here is that my kids have all read his Inheritance Cycle books, which are just really amazing.

And he did it as a 15-year-old. I mean, not only young but also getting out there as self-published. And then, of course, once you've proven that what you have is something people want, you can move on to traditional deals if you wish to give up the royalties.

But some people just don't want to mess around with anything else. And if you're selling lots of books, then you can get a really good juicy contract with the traditional publishers. So, that's something you should consider when you're going down the self-publishing route.

My question for you is, did I forget any major self-published authors' names that the average person would recognize? If I did, let me know below in the comments. And the thing I want you to take away in conclusion from all of this is that you don't have to be a traditional publisher to make it.

You can start as a self-publisher, build an audience, start getting sales, and the traditional publishers will come in and begin to offer deals. The problem is many self-publishers just don't get that far.

And that's why I work together with group coaching to get that straightened out, to help you take you through the steps so you can get your book onto the market and learn how to get it sold. And for more tips like this, check out my other blogs and videos.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}