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The Martian Inspires Self-Publish Authors

Updated on February 20, 2014

Any Weir just proves that anyone can, with luck and skill, write a book, self-publish it and if lady luck agrees, brings in the cash.

The Martian is a sci-fi novel about an astronaut who wakes up on the planet Mars to find he is the sole survivor and uses his ingenuity to survive until a relief mission arrives in another four years. The astronaut has only enough food for about a year. Using ingenious methods, he is able to grow food and obtain water from underground ice, but will he survive?

The book was written by an unemployed programmer that never graduated from college and seems to be a book you cannot put down or you don't like. If you love reading a "how to survival" guide-type book filled with physics and chemistry, you'll rave about it. The book is not one with martian creatures or finding life, it is not The Martian Chronicles! For instance, he had to figure out how to make 600 gallons of water from hydrazine and carbon dioxide. He calculated how many calories the astronaut would need for four years and how many potatoes needed to be grown.

The Red Planet is not a great place to be stranded, the author loved sci-fi, so after being laid-off from AOL in 2009, he began to write. Between looking for real work and writing his book, three years went by for the 41 yr-old. When the book was completed, he naturally tried to find a "real" publisher and was ignored or got an occasional rejection letter. The only next natural step was to create a website for it and offered it free. By now, it is 2012. As readers got the book and read it, his "fans" told him to put it on Amazon so it could be downloaded to e-readers. So, in Sept. 2012, Amazon was offering it for $1. Andy, like most other authors, was elated to make some extra money from his three years of hard work creating it. It was not a ton a money and he still would rather to have a full-time programming jon paying 80K a year! As time continued, the book amazingly caught on like wildfire and in three months sold 35,000 copies!

Thirty-five thousand copies seems to be the wake up call for literary agents to take notice of online authors. Of course, the book has received 1200 five star reviews, so it is clearly word of mouth online. In 2013, Crown Publishing offered him a six figure amount to the rights of the book (that is, over $100,000). Andy was elated and truly shocked-actually, he still is. But it does not end there, it was not more than a week after the book deal that 20th Century Fox studios optioned for the film rights to the book after several other studios had approached Andy. The movie studio has already assigned a screenwriter who wrote the sci-fi movie, Cloverfield, to adapt the book. Options are iffy, the studio may or may not actually produce the movie, but Andy did receive at least another five-figure amount for it.

Andy continues to think it has all been amazing. He continues to think it is a scam of sorts, the success is so far beyond what he imagined it would ever be. Meanwhile, he did find another job. Go figure.


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