Self-Publishing Success Stories

June 24, 2016 | Winona

Comments (6)

Have you ever thought about writing and publishing a book? Did you know you can self-publish your book at the library?

AQToronto Public Library's Asquith Press is a book printing service you can use to print high quality paperback books at a low price. Asquith Press is located in the Digital Innovation Hub at the Toronto Reference Library. Check the library website for upcoming information sessions or contact us at 416-393-7007 or

Novels, cookbooks, self-help books - these are just some of the different types of books that can be printed at the library. For inspiration, here are a few success stories that started out as self-published books.


Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini's epic fantasy novel Eragon was self-published in 2001 when the author was just 18 years old. The book tells the story of 15-year-old Eragon and his dragon companion who together set out to avenge the murder of Ergaon's uncle. Carl Hiassen's stepson picked up a copy and loved it, prompting Hiassen to show it to his own publisher Alfred A. Knopf, who bought and re-published the book in 2003. Eragon was followed by smash hit sequels Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance, and a film adaptation was released in 2006.

print book | audiobook | eaudiobook | ebook


The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian is a debut science fiction novel written by Andy Weir and self-published in 2011. The story follow an astronaut with limited supplies who must figure out a way to survive and communicate with Earth after he is stranded on Mars. The book was bought by Crown Publishing in 2013 for a six-figure sum and, that same week, film rights were sold to Twentieth Century Fox. The film adaptation was released in October 2015 and went on to win dozens of awards.

print book | audiobook | ebook | large print | talking book (restricted to print disabled patrons)



The third novel on this list is another self-published debut that also made it big in Hollywood. Still Alice tells the story of a linguistics professor who begins losing her words, thoughts, and memories, and is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Lisa Genova self-published the book in 2007, Simon & Schuster acquired and re-published it in 2009, and in 2014 it was adapted into a critically-acclaimed independent film.

print book | audiobook | eaudiobook | ebook | large print | talking book (restricted to print disabled patrons)


Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Bombauer

Joy of Cooking (2006 edition) | Joy of Cooking (1997 edition)

"A St. Louis widow named Irma Rombauer took her life savings and self-published a book called the Joy of Cooking in 1931. Her daughter Marion tested recipes and made the illustrations, and they sold their mother-daughter project from Irma's apartment. Today, nine revisions later, the Joy of Cooking -- selected by The New York Public Library as one of the 150 most important and influential books of the twentieth century -- has taught tens of millions of people to cook, helped feed and delight millions beyond that, answered countless kitchen and food questions, and averted many a cooking crisis." (Publisher's description.)


Looneyspoons by Janet and Greta Podleski

Sisters Janet and Greta Podleski self-published their low-fat cookbook Looneyspoons in 1996, with a little help in the form of a $2000 cheque from self-publishing legend David Chilton (see below). The cookbook was a huge hit, spending 85 consecutive weeks on the Globe and Mail bestseller list, selling 850,000 copies, and launching the Podleski sisters into the U.S. market and onto television, where they currently host a show on Food Network named after their most recent cookbook, Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry.

Looneyspoons | The Loonyspoons Collection


The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton
David Chilton is not just a cookbook champion (see above); he is a veritable self-publishing legend whose 1989 financial planning book The Wealthy Barber has sold two million copies and made him very wealthy indeed. The book is structured around the story of three fictional people, in three different financial circumstances, who receive advice about their personal finances from their barber. It is considered a classic in its field, and the author has recently published a sequel, The Wealthy Barber Returns.

The Wealthy Barber (3rd edition) | previous editions


What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles

What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles was born in 1970 as a self-published manual, 115 pages long, on how to find a job when the usual methods -- job agencies and ads -- don't work. It was acquired by Ten Speed Press in 1972 and is still going strong, with updated editions published every year, and several related books now published too.

What Color is Your Parachute? (2016 edition) | What Color is Your Parachute? For Teens | What Color is Your Parachute? For Retirement


Related blog post: