So there was the guy named Rob Kroese and he wrote a book. The book was about angels, the apocalypse and bad restaurants in Southern California. Rob submitted the book to a bunch of agents and the response he got was "are there any vampires in this?" Vampires were pretty big at the time (I guess it's zombies now). So without the requisite vampires, he decided to try the self-publishing route.
Rob used his blog to get a few hundred people to commit to ordering the book. Once he had enough interested people, he printed the book using Amazon's self-printing service which gave him access to the Kindle store. He sent free copies of the book to lots of top reviewers on Amazon and secured lots of high ratings (well deserved) and also put his book on sale for $0.99. So he sold a lot of books and got a lot of good reviews.
The short answer is that you can be successful on your own when other people label you a failure, but you have to work hard at it. Rob busted his butt marketing his own book to get to the point where Amazon took notice if his work. Not too shabby.
How have you been labeled a failure? What hard work can you do to change that?
(Note links to the books earn me a small commission and earn Rob some royalties)