Andy Weir. E.L. James. Christopher Paolini. What do these three names have in common? If you guessed successful novelists, you’re close. They’re all successful novelists who were originally self-published, their stories caught on, and they eventually began to catch on and one day they woke up with millions of people reading their books, movies in the works and great things in their future.

I’m not sure I’m going to get the millions of people and the movies in my lifetime, but just hearing the success stories of these authors gives me plenty of reason to hope that this could happen to me some day. Self-published writers are having success stories everyday. I even heard of a teen in England whose fanfiction about her and a bad boy version of one of the members of One Direction became a smash hit and got a publishing deal (yeah, I didn’t know that sort of thing was possible either until I heard of it). It’s quite incredible how people can become successes over time in a field that used to be despised by establishment writers.

How do these writers get their successes anyway? Well, it’s different for each one. Andy Weir published through his blog, and it attracted a bunch of readers who wanted to read The Martian in Kindle form. E.L. James published her Fifty Shades trilogy as an e-book and used the emerging field of e-readers as well as word of mouth among erotica fans to gain a following. Christopher Paolini toured around the United States, visiting schools and libraries and dressing up like a man from the Middle Ages to get books into the hands of kids and teens, until the son of author Carl Hiassen found Eragon, loved it, and brought it to his dad’s publisher’s attention. And, if that story about the 1D fanfiction is true, then I think she posted it on WattPad, which is kind of like the YouTube of writers (and which, along with Goodreads, I need to use more often).

One thing that these all have in common, the authors made it easy for interested readers to get their hands on their work. And their work was really good (though from what I hear Fifty Shades is very poorly written), which made people want to read more and keep coming back for more. Thus it sometimes snowballs until…success, I guess.

Now does this happen for all authors? Obviously not, or we’d all be reading books by people whose works may be anything from really good to just plain dreadful. But it could happen to any author who puts in the right amount of dedication to their writing and marketing and who has a little bit of luck on their side.

God knows I’m working hard on all of those when I’m not working or looking for jobs. I’ve had sales that have been very successful and gotten my books into the hands and Kindles of plenty of new readers. And I’m working on an audio book of Reborn City, which is probably my most popular novel right now, so that could open up a whole new field for me: those who like a good story on long car trips or while jogging. And I’ve got a story or two I think would do great as serials published on WattPad and on Kindle, though I’m not sure when I’ll get around to writing them.

And of course, I tell people. I let them know about the books I’ve got out and if they’re interested I give them my cards so that they know where to find them (I’ve already gotten two or three people at work to promise me they’ll get copies of at least one of my books as soon as possible). And I’m always looking for new ways to get readers interested, and usually they work.

So maybe someday I can be, if not the next Stephen King, then maybe the next Christopher Paolini or Andy Weir. Selling enough books to write full time, expanding my media so that more people are exposed to me and maybe find a new favorite author. Anything’s possible. I just got to keep writing, keep working hard, and above all never lose hope.

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