Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
Twain decided to eliminate
"the middle man" (a commercial publisher)
and keep for himself the profits from a sale he hoped
would reach 25,000 copies but actually exceeded 500,000.
John Kremer says Twain "got tired of the foolishness
of his previous publishers."
writes: Twain talks about why he self-published in his
so-called "Autobiography." To me, the story
of this book is the story of why so many writers eventually
self-publish or just give up in despair. Twain explained
that he had one rule for writing the book (most of which
he dictated). He did it only as long as he was interested
in a subject or story and when his interest flagged
he stopped. He wanted the book to be published exactly
the way he wrote it -- in full and, specifically, not
in chronological order. He never got the wish. The definitive
edition by Harvard University Press was abridged and
rearranged in chronological order by the editor, just
like every other version. If they do this to Mark Twain,
what will theynot do to us?
Small Press Book Ring, www.austensharp.com
published this famous work in many editions over a period
of many years, as he constantly added poems to the book.
Whitman was a printer and for a while was a country
teacher, then became a newspaper editor.
Laurie O'Brien, email@example.com; Small Press Book Ring,
URL www.austensharp.com. John Kremer says that a hundred
years after Whitman's death, his book continues to sell
thousands of copies every year. Well, that may be partly
because of college lit course requirements, but saying
that doesn't detract from Whitman's appeal.
is part of an "Ohio River Trilogy" about early
settlers (including his ancestors). After writing about
his ancestor, Betty Zane, Grey produced enormously popular
melodramatic tales of the West. According to the Zane
Grey Web Site, www.zane-grey.com/infolinks, he's known
as "the man who made the West famous."
The Rosses, www.spannet.org/cc/mnt01sel.html
Concise Columbia Encyclopedia.
of William Blake
book, Poetical Sketches (1783) was the only one published
conventionally during his life, and with the help of
his wife he illustrated and published everything else
himself. He moved his poems around among several books.
Besides being an English poet and artist who exerted
great influence on romanticism, Blake was an engraver
and added lavish colored engravings to his works.
Concise Columbia Encyclopedia; clue from Laurie O'Brien,
e e cummings
poet who published a volume of poetry with financing
by his mother, listing on his title page the thirteen
publishers who had rejected it! (What a great idea!)
It became one of his classics.
John Kremer, who lists a Self-Publishers Hall of Fame
at his site, www.bookmarket.com/selfpublish.html.
Henry David Thoreau
standard about living the simple life and being an independent
thinker. Thoreau published only two books in his lifetime,
and neither was a financial success, yet Walden,
his chef d'oeuvre, is said to be the best-selling
book in American history, according to a Walden site,
John Kremer and me
Good and Evil
work of the great German philosopher, poet, and critic.
Steven D. Hales, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell
University Press, is the publisher of record but. refused
to print it unless the authors paid part of the publication
costs. Russell remarked, "We thus earned minus
fifty pounds each for ten years' work."
philosophical tome on mathematics published early in
the century that, by the 1950s, had been read by only
about six people. It costs $565.00 through Amazon.com.
A few dozen have been sold.
book has just been included on a Modern Library list
of the century's hundred greatest nonfiction book, reports
The New Yorker, May 31, 1999. So the authors
lost money on one of the most important books of the
writers who reputedly self-published include Gertrude
Stein, Edgar Allen Poe, W.E.B. DuBois, Alexandre Dumas,
Stephen Crane, Mary Baker Eddy, Carl Sandburg, Upton
Sinclair (a favorite of mine), George Bernard Shaw,
Rudyard Kipling, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edgar Rice Burroughs,
and Anais Nin.
John Kremer's home page and Small Press Ring, www.austensharp.com.
Some Current Self-Published
than a hundred sci-fi and fantasy titles published traditionally,
Piers Anthony turned to Xlibris when he found that a
manuscript outside his usual genre--a historical/political
work--didn't interest his regular publishers. He now
also owns a large chunk of Xlibris.
Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
and sold more than 20,000 copies before signing the
reprint rights to William Morrow.
launched a series that sold millions of copies.
John Kremer's site, Book Marketing Update, www.bookmarket.com/selfpublish.html.
Email John at email@example.com, or read his book,
1001 Ways to Market Your Books (Fairfield, IA:
Open Horizons, 1998), now in its fifth edition.
By the way,
John's annotated list, "Self-Publishers Hall of
Fame," on his web site makes for inspiring reading.
What great success stories about self-published authors!
From reading them, it becomes obvious that what it takes
to get your book noticed is a combination of creativity
Color Is Your Parachute?
bestseller about our work life. Picked up by TenSpeed,
it sold more than ten million copies!
Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker
self-published. Many new editions have been published
by Bobbs-Merrill since the 1931 book came out. A revision
was published only a year or two ago, and although I
bought it as a gift, I still use my 1971 edition, which
the best all-around general reference cookbook now available.
Contains most standard North American dishes, along
with new ones as they become popular, and every recipe
Clue from Pat Bell, firstname.lastname@example.org, citing a Fax
On Demand (FOD) from Dan Poynter. Doesn't everybody
use this wonderful book, at least as a reference?
of Madison County
Robert J. Waller
story of love and loss that all happens within four
days. Picked up by Thorndike and made into a popular
Jett Vercruse, email@example.com and www.BarnesandNoble.com
Soup for the Soul
Jack Canfield and Mark V. Hensen
speakers share recipes for spiritual healing. Picked
up by Health Communications, inspired a whole series
directed at specialized markets like women.
Jett Vercruse and www.BarnesandNoble.com
Message Down Under
Shopped her self-published book around as nonfiction
(including to Stillpoint Publishing of Walpole, NH,
where I was editing part-time) before placing it as
fiction with HarperCollins for $1.7 million. It made
the best-seller lists.
John Kremer and me.
Keep Your Volkswagen Alive
sold millions to the "small is beautiful"
crowd and he founded a company that bears his name..
John Kremer and me.
claims that after the first printing sold out within
three weeks, the publisher "abandoned it,"
according to the book description at www.Xlibris.com.
However, I can't find any listing for the book at the
Library of Congress catalog, and I've inquired at the
LC about this.
describes the book as "the first commercially published
fat novel, or Schmalzroman." He writes primarily
for children (Fat Men from Space, The Hoboken Chicken
Emergency), but has also written for adults. A weekly
contributor to National Public Radio's Weekend Edition.
Recently published two books through Xlibris.
sold the book out of his basement. Then he sold reprint
rights to Warner for $800,000, says John Kremer. This
New-Age thriller book became Number One on the best-seller
list and paved the way for a successful sequel.
Bonnie Bucqueroux, firstname.lastname@example.org
Heal Your Life
this book, then sold the rights, but went on to establish
her own company, Hay House, which has published all
her other books and which John Kremer lists as one of
the top 101 independent publishers, it's that successful.
of Higher Consciousness
Key Keyes, Jr.
self-help book. He self-published all his other books,
too, and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
Things You Can Do to Save the Earth
environmental awareness movement just right and sold
more than four million copies.
Secrets of Attila the Hun
and after four printings and an endorsement from H.Ross
Perot, approached New York Publishers again. Warner
Books ran with it, and it became a bestseller.
William Strunk, Jr.
this guide for his classes at Cornell University. Especially
in its later revision by E.B. White, it sells thouands
of copies each year. Writers still depend on this thin
but excellent little instruction book that enjoins them
to write simply and clearly.
John Kremer and me.
a second mortage to publish it because he wanted to
retain complete control of the design and quality of
the editions. He wasn't convinced that his usual academic
publisher would do justice to the work.
book on the design of information, declare Liz Horton
and Michael Morin, email@example.com. Tufte
sold more than a million dollars worth of a group of
related titles and invested much of it in two subsequent
titles, still published by his own company. These books
are "remarkably well made," says Alan P. Hayes,
firstname.lastname@example.org, with contributions by Liz
Horton and Michael Morin, email@example.com.
with orders fulfilled from the author's garage, until
brought to the attention of Viking/Penguin by Bee Cullinan,
a professor of children's literature at New York University.
Ann Landers championed it, too.
teachers, and children, including a treasury of books
that are nice to read aloud.
John Lansingh Bennett, firstname.lastname@example.org and
Leslie Cefali, email@example.com; review at www.BarnesandNoble.com.
this himself, at first, on a cross-country tour of local
radio stations and hawking it out of the trunk of his
With a title
taking off on "Your Erogenous Zones," Dyer
exploited the self-help market.
contributed information about successful self-published
books include Jett Vercruse, firstname.lastname@example.org
and www.goldminesw.com; Rod Carveth, email@example.com;
Michele Janine Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org and www.petalsoflife.com;
Mark Shenefelt, email@example.com; Christine Reusch,
reusch@Frh.edu; Charles Stough, firstname.lastname@example.org;
John Lansingh Bennett, email@example.com; Elizabeth
Penrose, Julian9EHP@aol.com; Don Porter, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Paul T. Jackson, email@example.com;