Sunday, November 1, 2015

An Independent Martian?

Due to my current living situation, I'm unable to see the movie The Martian.  It looks like smart science fiction that I might enjoy(but, damn, from The Martian to Saving Private Ryan to Interstellar, we sure spend a lot of time trying to retrieve Matt Damon).  I was even more excited to learn it was based on a book, so I've decided that I need to make that novel something to read over the upcoming Christmas holidays.

At first, I gave no thought to where it came from.  It simply looked like an interesting book to read.  Then I heard something that gave me pause - The Martian began as an indie novel!  Surely this couldn't be true, I thought.  Then I did some research, and it turns out to absolutely be true.

We've all heard about indie success stories, from JA Konrath to Hugh Howey to Amanda Hocking, the tales of indie authors who've made it big(by our standards) are part of what keeps us going.  However, so rarely does someone like Andy Weir just pop out of nowhere.  Originally published in 2011, his novel was picked up by Crown publishing and re-released in 2014.  Then it was noticed by Ridley Scott.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

This is another example, to me, of how the old canard of "well, if you couldn't get a real publishing contract, you went indie" is total bullshit.  Granted, Weir struck gold quite by accident, but that doesn't negate the fact that he first offered it on his own website as a free story until others begged him to put it on Amazon, which he did...for 99 cents(it's now $9 at Amazon; it looks like a blockbuster movie increases the price).  Weir never imagined it would go this big, but something in the story resonated, and he's the latest example of indie success(albeit one of the brightest).

Some will point to him, or a few of the others I mentioned, and say that they're rare, they won the lottery, you shouldn't count on that, blah blah blah; but they say the same thing about traditional publishing success.  Doesn't Weir provide inspiration that you can make it in the indie market?  Shouldn't we use that as motivation rather than writing it off?  I think Weir shows that it takes the right story at the right moment - why not try to find that moment yourself?

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