Tag Archives: The Martian

Thinking About Self-Publishing? Here’s A Quick Reality Check.

Self-publishing seems to be all the hype right now. Whether you first try to get an agent or go straight to publishers and are unable to get their attention, or decide to skip attempting the traditional route altogether, you’re looking into self-publishing.

It seems like a good deal. You don’t have to mess with any of the middle men, who take the majority of the money your novel makes. You have the freedom to choose how you want to represent your work. You even get to select what you want your book cover to look like.3407402643_7d11d2717f_z

You’ve heard the success stories:

  • Andy Weir’s The Martian was originally self-published in 2011. It’s now been re-released through Crown Publishing, a subsidiary of Random House, and was made into a movie directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James was not only first self-published, but also was based on fan fiction. The rights for this novel were obtained by Vintage Books, a subdivision of Random House, in 2012. Selling over 125 million copies, this book was made into a movie that earned over $571 million worldwide.
  • Mark Dawson’s self-published John Milton series has sold over 300,000 copies. And while that in itself is impressive, Amazon pays for Mark to speak at seminars and workshops, sort of like their poster boy for the self-publishing world. To learn more about Mark’s success story, click here: “Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer.” 
  • Amanda Hocking self-published out of a need to make some desperately needed money. Over a period of about 20 months, Amanda sold 1.5 million books and made more than $2 million. To learn more about her story, click here: “Amanda Hocking, the writer who made millions by self-publishing online.” 

What you don’t hear so often are the hundreds of thousands of people who self-publish in the hopes of making enough money to quit their day jobs and end up not finding success.

Talking Writing’s article “Three Money Lessons For Starry-Eyed Authors” discusses the truth of self-publishing.

In this article, three lessons are addressed:

  1. “There’s Way Too Much Competition”
    1. It’s really easy to self-publish. Therefore, everyone and their grandma feel like giving it a try. On one hand, it’s great that people have the freedom to see their work published. On the other hand, most times the work wasn’t ready to be published, or in some cases, should have never seen the light of day. (I’ve seen multiple self-published novels that have misspelled titles.) It’s this other hand that causes a lot of problems because (1) your work gets lost in the noise and (2) a stigma forms about self-publishing.
  2. “Literary Fiction Is Still the Ugly Cousin”
    1. Literary fiction, as opposed to genre fiction, has never been all that great at selling books in the traditional publishing world. Literary fiction sells even worse in self-publishing.
  3. “You Can Drive Yourself Insane Tracking Sales”
    1. Having the ability to check real-time sales is both a blessing and a curse. When your book is selling well, you get a positive boost every time you check your sales statistics. However, when your book isn’t selling, the real-time sales can become a black hole that takes over your life.

These three challenges aren’t meant to deter you, if you’re interested in self-published. They’re here to show you that you most likely won’t get rich quick with self-publishing and that self-publishing involves a lot of work (potentially more work than traditional publishing because you are responsible for doing and paying for everything). But, like with everything, self-publishing presents opportunity, and with opportunity, there’s always a chance of phenomenal success.

Have you ever self-published or been interested in self-publishing?

(Photo courtesy of khrawlings.)

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THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir Book Review

13643683595_fb282dfbf6_zWhat a phenomenal book. The Martian is so well written, realistic, and has such a fantastic voice that I was endeared to the story and, especially, to Mark Watney.

With the movie out, I told myself I wouldn’t see the movie until I read the book. So, I bought the novel and turned to the first page. Two days later, I’ve finished the novel and am processing the roller coaster of emotions I experienced, while being entertained by Watney’s sarcasm, humor, and MacGyver-esque abilities. (Let’s just say I was a bit more tired for work than usual.)

The biggest strength of this novel is Mark Watney. No matter how hard the Martian environment tries to kill him, Watney manages to be humorous. One of the my favorite pieces from the novel follows (don’t worry these few lines don’t spoil the story):

“What must it be like?” he pondered. “He’s [Mark Watney] stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61

How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.

Mark Watney’s voice makes the story. Without it, this novel wouldn’t have been nearly as popular.

Why? (Besides missing Mark Watney.)

Because of how technical it is.

Which isn’t necessarily a negative. It wasn’t for me. Not because I understood everything. I’m not an astrophysicist. Nor have I studied orbital mechanics or relativistic physics (two of Weir’s hobbies), and I am far from any sort of engineer (Weir is a software engineer). But because Watney’s wisecrack comments after longer technical bits often clarified what he was doing, I was able to enjoy fundamental parts of the novel. Let’s face it, like how this book wouldn’t be the same without Watney, it wouldn’t work without being so realistic.

However, after reading multiple reviews of this novel on Goodreads, I noticed a pattern forming. Of those who didn’t enjoy the book as much (thus giving the novel three or less stars out of five stars), the major complaint seemed to be that this book had too much math. And because there was so much technical stuff, the tension slowed and people got bored.

I admit that there was a few times I skimmed over some of the more science heavy bits, but Watney is an astronaut. Science and math are necessaries for him. This book wouldn’t have been believable if Weir didn’t include all the science and math.

Watney’s strong narration and the Martian environment trying to kill him at every turn (not to intentionally personify Mars, but you get the point) balanced out the more science heavy sections.

When all is said and done, The Martian is a science fiction novel. It just happens to be one of the most realistic modern sci-fi books on the market.

Read the book. You’ll find yourself laughing at Watney’s dark humor and rooting for the astronaut who refuses to let a hostile, barren world kill him.

Human ingenuity, survival, and collaboration at its finest.

(Photo courtesy of Joel Tonyan.)