There’s some brief chatter about Vince Flynn on the Monday open book stuff thread. Flynn wrote many political thrillers starring Mitch Rapp. The first was “Term Limits.”
I wasn’t familiar with his work, but Flynn wrote a few New York Times best-sellers. What intrigued me most was that he self-published “Term Limits.”
I’ve never written a book, so I’m unfamiliar with the self-publishing process. I do know there are mixed feelings about the industry. Some say it opens avenues for excellent writers who otherwise might not stand a chance; others say it floods the market with ego-driven rubbish. I imagine the truth is in between. It certainly means there are more books out there. I get them at The Roanoke Times, and some of them are quite lovely — hardbacks with nice dust jackets and snippets from glowing reviews. You couldn’t tell them from books published by “established” companies such as Knopf or Bloomsbury. Of course, a lot of self-published books exist just for e-readers.
The evolution of the Internet has made self-publishing much easier and more widespread today than when Flynn wrote “Term Limits” in the 1990s. I was digging around to see which other authors made it big that way, but I couldn’t find much. Stephen King, strictly speaking, did not begin as a self-publishing author; “Carrie,” was picked up by a small but established publishing company. Before that, he sold stories and other works to magazines, but I wouldn’t call that self-publishing, just selling. It’s not unheard of for authors to sell writings to other publications, and a lot of authors found fame in serialized works decades ago. But I’m more interested in modern authors who became successful, not, say, writers from the 1800s. Those were different times.
I can think of just one other modern author who found fame through self-publishing, and it’s a bit of a stretch. Teen writer Christopher Paolini’s parents owned a publishing company and issued “Eragon,” which then got picked up by Knopf. So, he got lucky, not many people have publishers who sleep down the hall.
Of course, this is very subjective — what defines making it big? How do we gauge success? Does an author have to make a certain amount of money? Sell a required number of books? Make it onto a best-seller list? Have a book adapted for screen? I’d say making it onto the New York Times best-seller list means you’ve made it. Congratulations, Mr. Flynn. You died too young.
Can you think of any self-published authors who made it big (however you define it)? If you self-published a book, what was the process? If you were to write a book, would you self-publish or try to publish through an established company (or both)?
Important: If your comment includes a relevant link to an author, I’ll permit it; however, this is not a venue for self-published authors to promote their books and advertising is not allowed.