I belong to a writers group in LinkedIn, and recently someone there brought up E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, who is often said to have self-published the book first, and then got it picked up by a publisher. But that’s not what happened. Her blog FAQ says she was writing fan fiction for Twilight, and that a publisher in Australia set her up for ebook and print-on-demand publishing with Fifty Shades. Someone did the marketing for her, although she already had a great network, with a screenwriter husband and a father who was a BBC cameraman, not to mention her previous career as a TV exec. Here is her blog. What she did was get the word out about her stories to everyone she knew. And she apparently knew a lot of people, including folks who could help her move her writing career forward.
Alan Sepinwall writes a blog about television called What’s Alan Watching? The NPR article I mentioned the other day talks about how he self published a book and a successful book reviewer just happened to be a follower of his blog. She wrote a review of his new book and it ran in the NY Times. This was a bit of luck, but he had worked hard to develop a large network through blogging about something people are interested in.
This is a confusing article from Publisher’s Weekly about Kindle sales, which says that 15 of Kindle’s Top 100 ebooks had “self-publishing” origins. But it has James at the top, even though she has already said her books were not, in fact, self-published. The article also says these 15 titles were almost all romance novels. I’m going to try to contact some of those authors and see how they got the word out.
Here’s an article about books self-published in 2011 that made the NY Times Best Seller List. These are not all romances. So there’s hope! Question is, how did they sell copies of their books? I’ll need to look them up and see what I can find.