Fun Fact: The Martian Was Originally Self-Published

Posted April 24, 2020 by Amber in Bookish Things / 2 Comments


While it’s not as prominent as it used to be, self-publishing still has a bit of a stigma about it for many readers and writers.  For many readers, these books are a greater risk as they are not often as thoroughly edited and proofread.  For writers, there are ups and downs to self-publishing.  But for many, self-published books aren’t considered with the same weight as traditionally published book.

And while that isn’t necessarily fair, it’s important to remember that sometimes you can find a diamond in the rough.  The Martian is such a story.  But it is also important to remember that with success comes a lot of work.  Particularly when it comes to self-publishing, where your whole support team is… you.

The Martian was first published on Andy Weir’s website.  It was one of a couple different serial projects he had running at the time.  Per Weir’s own admission, his website was a bit difficult to navigate and just sort of generally unpleasant to deal with, so when readers of The Martian asked him to put it up on Amazon just so they could read it more easily, he complied.

By the time he wrote The Martian, Andy Weir had tried the whole “author” thing – taking three years off his job as a software engineer to try to make the career work – and he hadn’t made it, so he went back to software engineering.  His serials like The Martian were projects of love, and the positive response of readers is what inspired him to keep writing.  Without the enthusiasm of readers, he would never have released it on Amazon.

When The Martian was listed on Amazon, it was listed for $0.99.  And, even then, it was only listed for a cost because at the time, that was the minimum.

In Andy Weir’s case, he went into self-publishing with a fanbase already intact.  Many self-published authors don’t have that luxury.  His marketing was done and done well prior to listed publication, and as such, people bought the Kindle edition.  Additionally, the self-publishing market was less saturated then.

And you guys know where it went from there – Crown Publishing saw The Martian on the bestsellers list and made an offer.  In the same week, Weir sold the film rights.  His story is rare… but… it’s not impossible.  There are amazing books out there on the self-published markets.  Maybe that next amazing book can be yours.

There’s hard work behind it, but dream can come true in all sorts of ways.


Were you familiar with The Martian in its early days?  I wasn’t – I only learned in the last couple years that this book was a serial, then self-published.  But it give me hope. Tell me all about your hopes for publication in the comments!

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2 responses to “Fun Fact: The Martian Was Originally Self-Published

    • Amber

      I think stepping into a self-published novel can be scary because of the number that have been poorly edited… but that’s not always the case! I love hollering about really well-written books that have been self-published, because the marketing is so much less on them. We’re pretty quick to judge based on publishing house, if unconsciously, so it’s always cool to find super successful books that started that way. 🙂