Famous authors

Famous authors who chose self-publishing

Writing a novel and finishing it is hard, however getting a publisher to print the novel is harder. Unable to find publishers, there have been many authors who have taken the self-publishing route. With various self-publishing programs and websites that allow writers to publish their own stories, more authors are moving towards self-publishing. Here is a look at famous authors who chose self-publishing. If you already have a manuscript, learn How to Self Publish a Book in India.

E L James 50 Shades of Grey

EL James

One of the most popular and successful self-published author, E L Jamess 50 shades of Grey started out as a fan fiction of the Twilight series. The author posted the same on fan fiction sites and her website. She then developed the same into an erotic trilogy and self-published the first book as an e-book and later printed-on-demand. The trilogy soon became extremely popular and was adapted into a movie as well. Although critics were not too happy about the writing style, the books went on to become a best seller.

The book revolves around Anna Steele, a 21-year-old college student attending Washington State University and Christian Grey, a successful and wealthy Seattle entrepreneur. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM). According to reports, Fifty Shades of Grey has topped best-seller lists around the world, selling over 125 million copies worldwide by June 2015. It has been translated into 52 languages, and set a record in the United Kingdom as the fastest-selling paperback of all time. “British author Jenny Colgan in The Guardian wrote “It is jolly, eminently readable and as sweet and safe as BDSM erotica can be without contravening the trade descriptions act” and also praised the book for being “more enjoyable” than other “literary erotic books.”

The second and third installment of the trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed were published in 2012 and in 2015, Universal Pictures and Focus Features produced a film adaptation.

Ashwin Sanghi – The Rozabal Line

Ashwin Sanghi

Ashwin Sanghi, the author of bestselling novels such as The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant and Private India: City on Fire among many others, self-published his first novel, The Rozabal Line. He originally self-published his first book in 2007 under his anagram-pseudonym Shawn Haigins after being rejected by several publishers. According to Sanghi, he sent over 100 requests to literary agents and publishers for his first book, only to get rejected by them all. Unwilling to give up on his dream, he decided to go the self-publishing route. He then also sent his book to around 40 distributors with a note in it, asking them to stock and distribute his book and only one responded to him. According to an interview, the author said, “I went to a book store and saw my books kept in a corner with dust on it. I cleaned the dust and put it in the bestselling stack.” However, a few weeks later, his book was actually in the bestselling rack. After the initial success of the book, a revised edition was published in 2008 under the author’s own name. The book now is a bestseller but it was his marketing that took the book to where it is right now. The Rozabal Line is thriller fiction that deals with Jesus having survived the crucifixion and having settled down in India. An MBA from the Yale School of Management, Ashwin is a business man during the day and a writer at night.

The book was received well by critics and fans alike. The Hindu, one of India’s National dailies said, The book deals in greater depth with the issue of Christ’s union with Mary Magdalene touched upon by The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown as well as incorporating postulates of several other books, including Jesus Lived in India: Life Before and After the Crucifixion by Holger Kersten and Jesus Died In Kashmir: Jesus, Moses and The Ten Lost Tribes Of Israel by Andreas Kaiser.”

Amish Tripathi – The Immortals of Meluha

Amish Tripathi, one of the most successful Indian authors in the recent times, did not have it easy to begin with. After bring rejected by publishers over 20 times, the author self-published his first book, The Immortals of Meluha. Not coming from too wealthy a background, the author got his agent to invest in the printing and he invested in the marketing. At the beginning, during the book launch, Amish said that he didn’t think he would get his money back and was not sure of the success, however, Amish’s Shiva trilogy is considered as one of India’s most successful series. According to Forbes, Amish’s earnings, just by book sales alone, have crossed more than ` 16 crore. Additionally Dharma Productions bought the movie rights for his first book in the Shiva trilogy, The Immortals of Meluha. While Amish chose to self-publish his book, he did not just concentrate on writing and getting the book out but also put a lot of thoughts into marketing it. For instance, he offered copies of the first chapter free of cost: The book sold more than 40,000 copies and Westland bought the rights for the book. The Immortals of Meluha, was the first in the Shiva Trilogy. This was followed by The Secret of Nagas and The Oath of the Vayaputras, all of which were bestsellers as well. The Shiva Trilogy books have been translated into Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, Tamil, Assamese, Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada, Estonian, Spanish, Portuguese and Bahasa Indonesian.

The book was highly successful and was reprinted numerous times to keep up with the demand. The story is about the arrival of Shiva in the land of Meluha. Shiva helps Meluhans in their war against the Chandravanshis, who had joined forces with a cursed group called Nagas. Through this journey, Shiva learns that his choices actually reflect who he wants to be and the rest of the story is about the consequences about Shiva’s choices. The book opened to mixed reviews from critics. Pradip Bhattacharya from The Statesman said, “Plot skips along at a brisk pace, the characters are well etched and the reader’s attention is not allowed to flag. It will be interesting to see how the trilogy progresses. One cannot but admire the creative drive that impels a finance professional to embark on such an ambitious odyssey on uncharted seas.”

Adithya Iyer -The Great Indian Obsession: The Untold Story of India’s Engineers


There is a popular meme in our country that reads, In India, you become an engineer first and then figure out what you want to do with your life. Adithya Iyer’s first book covers just this. One of the biggest crowd funded projects, Adithya raised close to 14,000 AUD from more than 300 individuals across the globe to fund his book. The book became the highest crowd funded book in India and the 6th highest in Asia. With the money, the author set on a backpacking trip to understand the story of engineers and India’s obsession with the subject. An engineer himself, half way through his college, he realized that engineering his not his thing. Soon after college, he founded Annanymous, a T-shirt brand that exclusively sold engineering theme-based T-shirts. He later spent 2 years in Bangalore selling Chai, before he set out to write this book. He thinks the society needs to be re-imagined and that humans can’t be spending more than half their life doing something they seldom enjoy. The book also profiles places like Kakadeo in Kanpur, UP, which is also called coaching Mandi, a hub for students across UP and Bihar. Published by Notion Press, this book is available on Amazon.

Kaleidoscope – Colours of Life Inderjit Kaur

Inderjit Kaur

Kaleidoscope – Colours of Life is a tapestry of inspiring stories, suggestive poignant thoughts and ideologies that serve as a guide in every stage of life. Interlaced with threads of experiences of life and the lessons learnt from them, the book depicts seven inspiring stories weaved into the magnificent array of a rainbow. Charting the various shades of life, the book further highlights the ups and downs of each of the characters, who are embedded here as a metaphor for a rainbow, in the patio of a plethora of circumstances. By sharing wisdom, experiences and insights, Kaleidoscope – Colours of Life intends to deliver a message that will inspire and empower the readers to sense happiness and contentment, and help them to navigate life as a truly confident individual. Inderjit Kaur is an author, motivator with a powerful voice of spreading positive words through her writings. She chose to self-publish her book.

John Grisham – A Time to kill

John Grisham

Iconic author Grisham’s work A Time to Kill was rejected by many publications until a small independent American publisher gave the go ahead. However, the author had to buy up copies of the 5,000 print run to sell out of the boot, or trunk, of his own car. The novel though was a massive success. After the modest beginnings, A Time To Kill has since sold 19 million copies worldwide and become a Hollywood movie.

The Joy of Cooking- Irma S. Rombauer


Newly widowed Irma was left with $6000 in savings and instead of just living with that savings, she decided to write a book named, The Joy of Cooking, a collection of recipes. She had her daughter create a mysterious cover illustration and spent all her savings to get the book out. Sales of that first edition carried her along until a reworked version was in 1936. The book ultimately sold over 18 million copies and is one of the most published cook books.

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Under immense financial pressure, the legendary British author Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in just six weeks. Frustrated with his publishers over the poor earnings on his previous novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, Dickens rejected a lump-sum payment for the tale, chose a percentage of the profits in hopes of making more money in this manner, and published the book on his own. Although he expected to make £1,000, he only made £230 and was deeply disappointed.  The novel, however, did really well and still remain popular having been adapted many times to film, stage and opera. The London literary magazine, Athenaeum said, A tale to make the reader laugh and cry to open his hands, and open his heart to charity even toward the uncharitable … a dainty dish to set before a King.”

Leaves Of Grass – Walt Whitman 

Walt Whitman paid to publish the first edition of his poem collection, Leaves of Grass. Apart from publishing it, did much of the typesetting for the first edition himself. The first edition was really small, with only twelve unnamed poems in 95 pages. Over the years, until his death, Whitman revised the book multiple times. This resulted in greatly different editions over four decades.

Self-Publishing industry is seeing tremendous developments, not only world-wide but also in India. It is evident that times are changing, as authors now choose to self-publish than being made to self-publish. Learn how you can self publish a book in India.

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Naveen Valsakumar is one of the founders of Notion Press. He started Notion Press in 2012 as a premium self-publishing platform for Indian writers to create and publish beautiful books.

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