By now, most people will have heard of a film called The Martian. They will also know that Matt Damon is the star. They may even know that Ridley Scott directed it. But ask these same people who Andy Weir is, and just as many might scratch their space helmet in confusion.
As it turns out, Andy Weir is the author of the novel The Martian, the basis for the blockbuster that made more money in its opening day than Andy Weir will ever see in his lifetime.
That’s not the interesting part, though. This past weekend I saw an interview with Andy Weir on TV and aside from being a really down-to-earth guy, his story is one that writers like me (and millions of other writers like me) dream of happening one day.
Andy Weir was a computer programmer by day. By night, he’d sit in front of his keyboard and pound away at the keys in a field he was passionate about: science fiction. He started The Martian in 2009. Two years later he was trying to sell his manuscript to literary agents. Weir did not succeed. He was turned down across the board.
However, this didn’t stop him from pursuing his goal. Although he continued going to work to earn an honest day’s paycheque, he didn’t relent with his dream to publish his sacred baby, and decided to publish it for free online, one chapter at a time. Readers became excited. He grew a fan base. In fact, his fans demanded he publish the whole story as an ebook on Kindle when all was said and done. And Weir did exactly that, selling it for 99 cents.
He immediately shot up to No. 1 on Amazon’s science fiction bestseller list.
Only then did publishers start to take note of the same novel which had been turned down by literary agents just two years ago, and in 2013 Weir signed a publishing contract worth a cool $100,000. According to Weir, the movie rights would be optioned four days later.
Then, a year later, on March 2, 2014, the hardcover version of The Martian came out in print form and debuted on the New York Times Best Seller List in the hardcover fiction category at No. 12.
From zero to sci-fi hero in four short years. Not bad.
So for every writer out there slogging away in the trenches of obscurity and a full-time job, let Andy Weir’s story be the inspiration, the rocket fuel, if you will, to keep going until you reach the next plateau.