How Have Self-Published Books Become Bestsellers?

By Scott Lorenz
Westwind Communications
Book Marketing

Contributed by Julie Duncan

Since Amazon released its second generation Kindle to a worldwide market in 2009, the publishing industry has been in debate over the extent to which digital publishing would affect the industry.

Some publishers have approached the subject with doom and gloom, believing that it’s all over and they should abandon ship. Others have tried to deny the fact that there is a problem, stating that ebook sales have now reached a plateau, and there is nothing left to fear. Then are the sensible ones, who have accepted that publishing needs to adapt and embrace digital publishing, while understanding that it’s certainly not the end for physical books just yet.

Self-publishing success
One of the greatest problems that publishers are worried about is self-publishing authors, who have rejected the middleman in favor of publishing their own work via sites such as Amazon. These sites not only offer the chance to publish books in digital format, but also to create physical editions of the book.

Thousands of writers are now self-publishing, rather than trying to go through the lengthy and sometimes controlling process of finding an agent and a publisher. A vast number of these writers will struggle to sell any of their work, but there are those whose debut novels have reached some of the world’s most renowned bestseller lists.

How did they do it?
Having the backing of a publishing house is about more than just having a middleman and the contacts. The industry expertise, editing help, design advice and publicity that can be gained from a publishing house is almost invaluable, and it makes you wonder how self-published bestselling authors have done it.

It’s all about the marketing
When it comes down to it, no matter how talented a writer is, or how great their story, if they want a wide audience to read their work then they need to be able to market themselves and get their name in the public eye.

Selling over 400,000 copies of her book, Darcie Chan made it onto the bestseller list alongside the likes of James Patterson and Kathryn Stockett. According to The Wall Street Journal, Chan “spent about $1,000 on marketing, buying banner ads on websites and blogs devoted to Kindle readers and a promotional spot on”. She has since earned hundreds of thousands of dollars, which just goes to show how an initial investment in the marketing of a book can lead to huge profits in the end. Obviously, having $1,000 to spend on marketing is not possible for everyone, but given the success that it brought Chan, it could well be worth borrowing the money to start with. A successful marketing campaign can then not only turn that investment into profit, but can also create a huge readership and a loyal, international fan base.

Global phenomenon
It’s not just in the US that authors are finding their success through self-publishing. In the UK, one author decided to self-publish having already been working with HarperCollins. Polly Courtney was not entirely happy with how her novels were being portrayed by the design that the publishing house had put on her book, so she decided to take the matter into her own hands. To get the cover design that she wanted, she walked around a bookstore and identified the designs that matched the style she wanted for her books, and contacted the designers.

Another best-selling author in Rhode Island is backing the trend for self-publishing, and will be addressing an audience at The Rhode Show to give her tips on self-publishing. Marie Force has set a number of her novels in Rhode Island, and ensures that the public libraries in the state always receive free copies of her books whenever she publishes a new one. This generosity is perhaps something that has emerged from writers writing for writing’s sake, without the pressure of a corporate publisher breathing down their necks and constantly trying to boost revenue.

How can Westwind Communications help you?
Westwind’s book marketing strategies ensure that every area is covered when it comes to marketing your book. From strong relationships with book reviewers across a whole range of media, to arranging interviews and providing help on your own website, Westwind will make sure that your book gains the most appropriate coverage to help your book sell. Previous authors who have worked with Westwind can testify how effective a Westwind campaign can be.

About the Author
Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC Nightly News, The New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Family Circle, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few. Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz at or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist.