Some writers go the self-publishing route because of their disappointment over the constant rejection letters from the major publishing houses and agents. Others may not like the practices and policies of traditional publishers, opting to have a great control over royalties, promotion and marketing. Some may hope to be noticed by the large publishers after proving themselves as heavy weights when doing things on their own.
Some self-published authors have been “discovered” by the large publishers, but their experience has shown mixed results. As reported in Publishers Weekly of April 2, 2012, John Locke was the first self-published author to sell one million Kindle e-books. His strategy is now a staple for many authors: price your work at 99 cents and see the readership grow. However, after Mr. Locke’s earlier work, Wish List, was released in the mainstream print market in late January, it has sold just over 6,000 copies so far.
Perhaps the market for this work was saturated. Perhaps ebook sales do not automatically translate into print book sales. Perhaps $4.99 for a paperback is way too much compared to 99 cents for the ebook version. Maybe there was something wrong with the marketing or the promotion. Maybe it is too early for conclusive results. Who knows.
Amanda Hocking is a different story. Her first title in the Trylle trilogy, Switched, has gone to press four times and has 200,000 copies in print. St. Martin’s Press reports that they have been “very aggressive” in promoting Ms. Hocking’s work. Maybe that is the key.
In any case, these two examples show that there are cases, albeit not always successful, of self-published authors making it into the traditional publishing. If your work is really good, sooner or later someone will take notice.