I've seen some references to commercial publishers picking up a self-published novel if it's been selling well.

Can you point me to a few specific examples of this happening?

Fiction only, please. I'm particularly interested in cases where the author had no popular platform independent of his writing (e.g. not Cory Doctrow, or Machine of Death which was published by several popular webcomic artists). Anything within science-fiction or fantasy would be of particular interest to me.


4 Answers 4


Michael Wallace has just signed a five book publishing deal with Thomas & Mercer, the new publishing imprint from Amazon. He writes mystery/suspense and has been solely self-published until now.

Michael Sullivan has signed a five book deal with Orbit Books. He writes fantasy novels and has been solely self-published until now.

J. Carson Black just signed a book publishing deal with Thomas & Mercer. I don't recall how many books were in the deal, but I believe it was three. I believe she had been previously published but got dropped and then went into self-publishing. Now she's back in traditional publishing.

Of course, everyone has no doubt heard about Amanda Hocking's multi-million dollar deal to publish three new contemporary or urban fantasy novels. In addition, a couple of publishers tried to convince John Locke to sign with them, but he declined. Having sold over a million e-books on his own, I guess he didn't really feel the need to change anything.

There are several others that have done this recently, but these were the ones that immediately came to mind. I may add a couple more later.

Update: Scott Nicholson, another indie author, has just signed a two book deal with Thomas & Mercer. Scott writes primarily thrillers, and he does have a background in traditional publishing. However, he went indie and found success with a couple of his self-published books, and now he is back with a publisher.

Louise Voss shot to the top of the Kindle charts by self-publishing her book after being rejected by literary agents. It attracted the attention of publishers HarperFiction, which offered her a six-figure, four-book deal. As a result, her ebook Catch Your Death will also be printed and stocked in bookshops by a traditional publisher.

Jessica Meigs self-published two zombie novellas and was picked up by Permuted Press for a three book deal.

Last edit, I promise! JA Konrath has been an openly outspoken proponent of self-publishing for some time. I knew that he had compiled a list at one time of self-published authors with no previous experience or exposure to traditional publishing. I'll let his list serve as a much better compilation of success stories.


Amanda Hocking's the big name on this one, I'd say. YA supernatural, as I understand it, but I haven't read her work myself.

There's also Eragon, although I recall hearing some debate about just how 'self' published the book was. (I can't remember the details of the debate... anybody?)

  • I was going to mention her too, but I wasn't sure if she qualified, because the question asked for an example of a self-published novel that was picked up. Amanda Hocking was picked up to write a new series, wasn't she, not to have her other books republished? Aug 3, 2011 at 14:48
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    I guess as far as I'm concerned, the distinction I'm intrigued by would be whether she was "picked up" solely on the strength of her self-published work, vs. selling a novel "the usual way" after having self-published previously. If they took her for a new, unwritten series, that sounds on strength of the self-pubbed work, which is basically what I'm aiming for.
    – Standback
    Aug 3, 2011 at 16:24
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    If you click the link I gave for Amanda Hocking, it certainly sounds like the self published books are going to be reissued by the new publisher.
    – Kate S.
    Aug 3, 2011 at 16:34
  • Re: Eragon - From what I've found, author's parents ran a very very small commercial press, and the book was published both through that and an online POD service. So... practically self-publishing for all most purposes, but under the auspices of a regular publisher, and with parents who had an extraordinary amount of industry know-how and put in an extraordinary level of effort. And, fittingly, reached an extraordinary level of success :)
    – Standback
    Aug 4, 2011 at 10:08
  • cf.: here and here; Wikipedia also mentions the POD service, which was apparently in addition to the family publishing.
    – Standback
    Aug 4, 2011 at 10:12

Contest by Matthew Reilly:


Once, long ago, I read that Dan Brown's Digital Fortress was originally self-published... but if this is true it has since been excised from the record...


Depending on what you are meaning by being self-published I believe that Scott Sigler, Mur Lafferty and Nathan Lowell are examples as well.

  • Oooh - podcasting to publishing. Cool. :)
    – Standback
    Aug 4, 2011 at 13:17

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