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Self-Publishing Hall of Fame
Featuring Famous Self-Publishers

John Kremer's Self-Publishing Hall of Fame — This book features the stories of hundreds of famous self-publishers who have gone on to great success. It also features tips from many of the hall of famers on how to do what they did. I publish this book as an ebook because I’m continually adding new heroes to it. June, 2011. 237-page ebook download. $20.00.

Self-Publishing Hall of Fame Listings

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James D. Macdonald self-published a songbook in 1975 in an edition of 150 copies — as he puts it, “just me, a Xerox machine, and a saddle-stapler.” He went on to become a bestselling novelist and short story writer. He wants people to know, though, that “the latter did not depend in any way on the former.”

Gloria Mallette self-published and sold 10,000 copies of her novel, Shades of Jade, within the first eight months. The book was then sold to Random House's Strivers Row imprint for reprint as a trade paperback. The book went on to become #2 on Essence magazine's paperback fiction bestseller list.

Since 1979, Carole Marsh has self-published hundreds of titles under her Carole Marsh Books imprint as well as Gallopade International. Her publishing company has 12,000 titles in print, with her contributing to or writing many of those titles. Among her titles are The Mystery on the California Mission Trail, The Big California Activity Book, The Coolest California Coloring Book, and California History Projects.

In 1948, Bill Martin Jr. and his brother Bernard Martin self-published children's picture books via their Tell-Well Press. To promote the books, they arranged their own author tours with lots of advance work, including working with bookstores to create effective posters, window displays, ads, and more. In a single day in Milwaukee, they sold more than 1,500 books.

James Conroyd Martin started his novel Push Not the River in 1976. Martin self-published via POD in 2001 to wonderful reviews and great sales based on self-promotion and word-of-mouth. In April, 2002, St. Martin's bought the rights to publish the book in October of 2003.

Jane M. Martin, author of Breathe Better, Live in Wellness: Winning Your Battle Over Shortness of Breath, is the first self-published author selected for Infinity Publishing's Authors Who Make A Difference program. This program “provides ongoing publishing support for chosen Infinity authors of meritorious books that have the proven ability to make a positive difference in improving the quality of life for a major segment of the population.”

In 1976, Nancy J. Martin and her husband Dan founded That Patchwork Place to publish her quilting books. To date, the company—renamed Martingale & Company in 1997—has published over 400 titles and sold 12 million books worldwide. Martin herself has written more than 40 books on the art of quiltmaking. Her titles, including Make Room for Quilts, 101 Fabulous Rotary-Cut Quilts (with Judy Hopkins), and 365 Quilt Blocks a Year Perpetual Calendar have topped Martingale's bestseller lists.

Mike Martineau self-published his own novel, The Strokers, about the rise to stardom of a British rock musician. He started out by distributing the novel only to bookstores in the Virgin Islands where he lived. Hallmark Press, a Miami publisher, then took over the publication of the book. Meanwhile, Martineau sold movie rights to Joseph E. Levine Presents for a $25,000 option against a final pickup price of $250,000.

Sandra Haldeman Martz self-published When I Am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple, which went on to sell more than 4 million copies.

In 2003, after being turned down by a half-dozen publishers, Jeffery Marx self-published Season of Life. Marx sold 14,000 copies of the book out of his car and his living room before he could convince his previous publisher, Simon & Schuster, to take on his new book. When the S&S edition came out, the book hit the New York Times bestseller list at #10.

Brandon Massey, author of the supernatural thriller Thunderland, made the jump from self-publishing via iUniverse to self-publishing his own edition to being published by a major publisher (Kensington).

Antoinette Matlins and her husband Stuart began Gemstone Press by publishing Jewelry & Gems, which has since sold more than 250,000 copies.

Frances Mayes, author of the wildly popular Under the Tuscan Sun, self-published all of her early books of poetry under the name of Seven Woods Press. To avoid an undercurrent of criticism in the literary community, she began soliciting poet friends such as C.D. Wright to publish her collections. Wright's Lost Roads Press released Mayes's Ex Voto collection in 2000.

Celebrity numerologist Glynis McCants sold 75,000 copies of her self-published book, Glynis Has Your Number. She then sold reprint rights to Hyperion for a major fee.

When Nan McCarthy self-published her first romance novel Chat, she sold out the 2,500 copies she had printed and signed on with a computer book publisher to print another 20,000 copies. In October 1998, Pocket Books heavily promoted her series of three novels, Chat, Connect, and Crash.

Character actor Ron McClarty, best known as Sgt. Frank Belson on Spenser for Hire, had written 10 unpublished novels and 44 unproduced plays before he finally gave up on trying to interest the major publishers in his novels. He decided to take his work straight to the people via the Internet. Since he had also narrated more than 50 novels, he asked his editor at Recorded Books, Claudia Howard, if she would be interested in doing an audio edition of his third novel, The Memory of Running (written first in 1988). With the help of a review of the audiobook by Stephen King, McClarty was able to sell rights to two novels to Viking for $2 million, sell movie rights, and sell foreign language rights in many countries.

Canadian author Peggy McColl, the Diva of Destiny, made $25,000 in 48 hours following her own advice. McColl, self-publisher of On Being...The Creator of Your Destiny, teamed up with Marketability to take a slow-selling title and make it an instant bestseller.

Todd McFarlane formed Image Comics with six fellow artists and proceeded to self-publish the Spawn comic book in 1992. The first issue sold 1.7 million copies!

Linda Watanabe McFerrin and her travel writer friends from the Wild Writing Women group self-published a collection of their wilder stories — about voodoo and buss accidents and pants lost while climbing. The collection, Wild Writing Women: Stories of World Travel, sold out before the book was even printed.

After originally self-publishing her first novel The Expected One, Kathleen McGowan sold rights to that book as well as two others in The Magdalene Line series to Touchstone Fireside for around $1.5 million.

In 1966, poet and songwriter Rod McKuen self-published his first major book, Stanyon Street and Other Sorrows, via his company, Stanyan Music. He sold 40,000 copies before Random House picked it up.

Mike McMillan has self-published more than 50 nonfiction how-to booklets and sold thousands and thousands of them through the biggest mail order catalogs in America as well as through many schools and libraries. Check out his website:

Terry McMillan, bestselling author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, self-published her first novel, Mama. Many of her novels have been made into movies as well.

Peter McWilliams self-published many of his New York Times bestselling books, including Life 101, Do It, Wealth 101, The Personal Computer Book, The Personal Computer in Business Book, and others.

Herman Melville, author of the classic novel Moby Dick, considered by many as the greatest novel ever written by an American, self-published his epic poem Clarel in 1876 as a limited edition of 350 copies. He self-published several other volumes of poetry before he died. None sold well, but then Moby Dick never sold out its original printing during Melville's lifetime.

In the summer of 2003, singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant abandoned the big record labels to begin producing and selling her own albums.

Carolyn Michael self-published Enchanted Companions: Stories of Dolls in Our Lives and then entered and won the Writer's Digest National Self-Published Book Award for nonfiction. She sold reprint rights to Andrews McMeel.

Gordon Miller, a Denver salesman who claims to have quadrupled his $40,000 salary by changing jobs four times in five years, self-published Quit Your Job Often and Get Big Raises and then went on to sell thousands of copies in his local area. He then sold rights to Doubleday in a two-book deal for a solid six-figure sale.

John G. Miller sold more than 250,000 copies of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question. He then worked with agent Barret Neville to sell the rights to that book plus one other to Putnam/Perigee for a mid-six figure advance.

Karen Quinones Miller set up Oshun Publishing to publish her first novel, Satin Doll. She sold 3,000 copies in six weeks and 24,000 in eight months. As a result, several major publishers bid in an auction for hardcover rights. Simon & Schuster made a winning low six-figure bid for the rights.

In 1972, John Mitzel began publishing his own stories as well as other writers' work under the Manifest Destiny Press imprint. He later ran the New England-based gay books distributor Stonewall Distributors. In 2001, he founded a new small press, Calamus Books, to publish books by gay authors.

Some years ago, British novelist Timothy Mo became so disaffected with his publishers, whom he regarded as little better than upper-class thieves, that he severed connections with his agent and publisher to launch his recent novels himself through his own imprint, the Paddleless Press.

Marlo Morgan self-published Mutant Message Down Under, sold 370,000 copies, and, once it began to take off, sold the rights to HarperCollins for $1.7 million.

Beginning her book career by self-publishing her first book of poetry, Justice: Just Us, Just Me, on August 23, 1999, Mary B. Morrison had been writing poetry since 1983. In 2000, after self-publishing and selling 10,000 copies of her novel, Soul Mates Dissipate, Mary B. Morrison sold rights to Kensington for a six-figure advance.

Viggo Mortensen is not just an actor who starred in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but he is also a publishing entrepreneur with a direct-mail operation, Perceval Press, that he launched in 2002. He's been retailing his 20-title list both online (several of the books are by Mortensen) and via direct mail.

John Muir founded the company that bears his name in order to self-publish his multi-million copy bestseller, How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive. The book still sells thousands of copies each year.

Peter J. Murray, a former assistant headmaster in England, self-published his first children's book, Mokee Joe Is Coming. The book, inspired by stories he told his children, was published in autumn, 2003, and sold 12,000 copies after he promoted it in local book-shops and schools. Hodder Children's Books acquired the rights to Mokee Joe early in 2004 for £25,000 — following an auction that included two publishers that initially turned the book down. His agent, Curtis Brown, is now seeking a film deal.

Victoria Christopher Murray, author of the novel Temptation, made the jump from self-publishing to being published by a major publisher.

Bill Myers self-published many videos as well as several books and a newsletter on how to make and sell videos. He later sold the rights to many of these products, retired to New Zealand, and then returned to the U.S. to self-publish and market a line of software to make it easier to sell videos and other products via the Internet.

Visit for more detailed listings of selected honorees. Or read the book above for the most detailed and complete listings.

John Kremer's Self-Publishing Hall of Fame — This book features the stories of hundreds of self-publishers who have gone on to great success. It also features tips from many of the hall of famers on how to do what they did. I publish this book as an ebook because I’m continually adding new heroes to it. A great motivational and educational tool! June 2011. 237-page ebook download. $20.00.

Inspired? Then do it. But first read 1001 Ways to Market Your Books.

Copyright © 2016 by self-publishing expert John Kremer

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