Best Selling Children Authors that Started by Self-Publishing by Maria Hughes

ChildrensBookstore.comEnjoy this post by guest columnist Maria Hughes, where she shares are several well-known children’s book authors got their start with by self-publishing their books.


The world of publishing is one shrouded in bureaucracy, politics, and money that make it difficult for aspiring writers to get their works published. Of course, this helps to keep the market from being flooded with poor pieces, but it also keeps out titles that could do well.

Thankfully the increasing popularity of e-books has created an influx of self-published authors who can sell their works on this cheaper medium. Not all books do well on e-readers, and children books have not done all that well in the past due to the fact that not many children have e-readers like Kindles or Nooks.

However, the competitive market is driving down costs and more children could be getting e-readers which would certainly lead to an increase of sales. This is promising for children’s book authors looking to get their stories out, and here are some well-known authors who either got their start with self-publishing or are turning to it.

Christopher PaoliniChristopher Paolini

A household name at nineteen, the fantasy author sold his first book, Eragon, to the acclaimed publisher Alfred Knopf after personally hocking copies at schools and bookstores. The Paolini family actually created a self-publishing company around their then teenage son’s book named Paolini International and every member of the family plays a vital role. Mr. Paolini runs the business side, Mrs. Paolini handles the fan mail and PR, and his sister acts as the general assistant and also provided the artwork for Eragon. The entire family also helps to edit Christopher’s work. The family venture has proved successful with the entire four-book Inheritance Cycle selling over 35 million copies.


G.P. TaylorGP Taylor

Best known for his first novel, Shadowmancer, and the subsequent sequels, GP Taylor got his start by self-publishing his book as well. An odd career of music producer turned police officer turned vicar before he started on his first novel made GP Taylor a surprising success. After finding a printer and editor himself, Taylor found local stores to sell his books at and to have book signings. He contacted local papers to write features on him and his book and eventually got traction going for Shadowmancer which led to Taylor to signing a book deal. After selling millions of copies around the world and movie rights Taylor has made millions of dollars, but he has left his publicist and is striking off on his own yet again.

Bill Martin Jr.

Although he wrote over 300 children’s books, his most popular to date are Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. He wrote for over 60 years and his first book, The Little Squeegy Bug, was published in 1945 by Martin Jr. and his brother. The brothers produced all of Bill Martin Jr.’s works which sold millions of copies worldwide, and many titles are now household names.

While a little luck was involved with all of these authors, they still had the support and drive to go out and get their works published. They cut through the thick red tape and procedure that stops so many potential books from ever reaching anyone. Now, authors can get their start much easier by publishing on paperless media like e-books. While this is great news it still has its downsides. Authors are competing with many more works online and self-publishing means authors go without the connections a large publicist might have. The leg work is far greater and the rewards might not be as high, but this can be written off if the end goal is just to have the work published and available.
Maria L Hughes is a children’s book enthusiast and online publisher for She enjoys blogging about reading, researching, parenting, and, her passion, children’s books.

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  • Will be looking into self publishing soon. Going for Kindle?Nook and then then POD and go from there. Thanks for sharing the possibilities.

  • Stella Scott says:

    Coming over from UBC. 🙂

    My mother is a writer. In I’ve been feed on books since I was a child. I love to read and write too. Had I been a child today I just know I would have had a kindle or two.

    I think the possibilities of today are wonderful. Everyone with story deserves to have it published. Even if you only have a few copies distributed, there is a great feeling of accomplishment to it!

    All the best!

  • Eleanor says:

    But it is amazing what dreamers can do when they put their minds to it. After all isn’t that what Author’s are? Dreamers who share their dreams in their written books?

  • Dani G. says:

    I submitted my first children’s book manuscript in 1970 and am amazed at how much publishing has changed since then. So many opportunities for authors today!

  • Beth Barany says:

    Mark, Self publishing is so much easier than it has ever been. If you have questions about it, there are many experts to help you, including myself.

    Eleanor, it is amazing! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Beth Barany says:

    Oh! I just saw more comments!

    Stella, Thanks for stopping by! Yes, it’s a great feeling to publish a story and have it read. (As a award-winning and published novelist, I know what I’m talking about.)

    Dani, Thanks for commenting. Isn’t it great how many opportunities we authors have.

  • Janet says:

    I’m an aspiring writer so its great to hear stories about how others started!

  • Beth Barany says:

    Janet, Good luck with your writing!

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