From Free to Published
The Creative Journey of Andy Weir, Author of The Martian
Andy Weir has officially hopped on the Tapas train! His collection of short stories, Principles of Uncertainty, will be available in a few weeks with an exclusive, never-before-seen story about Yuri Gagarin, first man in space. You can bookmark it now on Tapas to be the first to read it!
Who is Andy Weir, you ask? Why, only the bestselling author of The Martian, a sci-fi novel about Mark Watney, a man marooned on Mars with nothing but his limited supplies and wit to rely on. The novel was later turned into a film in 2015 directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon as Watney. Though The Martian was the novel that brought him fame, it wasn’t popular overnight, and it certainly wasn’t his first creative venture. Andy Weir’s journey as a writer started roughly 13 years before his story hit the big screen, back when he was just a computer programmer with a dream.
You know Andy Weir is a talented writer, but did you know he got his start by making online webcomics? And that was only after failing to meet his 3-year goal of getting published.
At the 2016 Silicon Valley Comic-Con, Weir sat on a panel called “Master of Webcomics.” Inspired by Stephen Motley’s free webcomic, Bob the Angry Flower, Weir posted Casey and Andy, a comic strip about two mad scientists. In a 2008 interview with The Agony Booth, Weir explained that it let him “be creative, and gives [him] an audience,” whereas with Theft of Pride, the first book he attempted to get published, he lost interest 60 pages into the sequel because he felt no one would read it.
In 2006, he posted Cheshire Crossing, a crossover comic starring Alice (Alice in Wonderland), Dorothy (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), and Wendy (Peter Pan). Readers of these comics became readers of The Martian 1.0, which he also posted online as a free serial in 2009. These readers were also the same people who encouraged him to sell his work, and he obliged, releasing it to Amazon Kindle for $0.99. Four months later, The Martian had sold 35,000 copies, according to EW. In March 2013, he landed a publishing and film deal. And in April 2016, he agreed to work with us to release a collection of short stories, an enhanced Sherlock fanfic, and a revamped Cheshire Crossing (but more on that later.)
PRACTICE MAKES IMPROVEMENT
When people ask, “How do you get discovered?” or “How do you become a professional writer/artist?”, the main focus is never the fame nor fortune. In fact, when Andy actively pursued a publishing agent, it didn’t pan out at all. When he temporarily set aside the publishing dream and focused on other creative efforts, it led to his gradual recognition. Then, when he wasn’t looking, the right person finally did. That person was Producer Simon Kinberg, producer of Fantastic Four (2015), Deadpool (2016), and several films in the X-Men franchise.
Andy Weir didn’t get where he is today without honing his craft. Before The Martian was Theft of Pride, and even before Theft of Pride (and the Internet), was a lost story called The Observer. His storytelling improved with Casey and Andy and Cheshire Crossing, and it improved with the help of his growing audience. This is what Tapas Media wants to provide for aspiring storytellers — a supportive and fun environment that allows creators to share, learn, and grow. An accessible avenue into the publishing world.
On Tapas Media’s webcomic platform, Tapastic, new creators can build their audience by posting their comics for free, just as Andy Weir did on his personal website. Unfortunately, many people believe this type of creative content should be free and remain free forever. That having legions of fans, exposure, and the ability to draw or write — the luxury of doing what they love — for an audience should be enough. But if creators are good enough to monetize their talents and make a living doing what they do best, why shouldn’t they make the leap from free to commercial? When creators gets noticed by the right person, that is when their efforts truly begin to pay off. That is when creators can start supporting themselves.
Few people can predict what the next big thing will be. Who knows? Your favorite online artist or writer might just be the next Andy Weir.
Written by Gabrielle Luu