Matthew Mather is one lucky fellow, and a super nice guy, as well. About a year ago, the indie author contacted me to write a review of his new book Cyberstorm. In the end, I chose not to write it, mostly because I was publishing my own fiction in similar genres, and I didn’t want the conflict of interest.
Not that he needed my help. Mather’s book went on to huge success, selling over 120,000 copies. The book tells the tale of an average New Yorker caught up in the cyber-war which results from escalating tensions between the United States and China. (Twentieth-Century Fox picked up the film rights to the book.) This, of course, doesn’t even count the seventy-thousand copies he has sold of his first novel Atopia.
By his own admission, Mather has averaged an income of over $40,000 per month in the last eighteen months. He has done so without either giving away all his rights to the big five or shunning traditional publishing altogether. Instead, he has forged a path down the middle, selling some rights and retaining others. The path he has followed is very similar to the path pioneered by Hugh Howey, the author of Wool. Mather and his agent are achieving similar results to Howey.
When I first approached Mather about writing an article on his success in the last year, he sent me a photo. A box of books from Harper Collins, Canada, had just arrived, his first from one of the big five publishers. Like Howey, Mather and his agent have been eager to sell his book rights in foreign markets, generating international demand for his work. On the other hand, like Howey, Mather has turned down several six-figure offers from the big five this year for the United States print rights. For now, Mather intends to keep them as his own. It remains to be seen whether or not Matthew Mather will be able to match Hugh Howey’s United States print deal, which allowed him to keep the electronic rights while giving limited print rights to Harper Collins.
Mather has been brilliant in his marketing. He comes across as a genuinely nice guy, even in his emails. I remember reading his impeccably edited and well worded press release last year inviting me to get an advanced copy of Cyberstorm and thinking to myself that a whole lot more people could get their own products reviewed on GeekDad if they just followed Mather’s lead.
He’s also eager to please. That kind of enthusiasm has helped him create a loyal base of fans. He now has a list of over 1,000 beta readers, all of whom he depends upon to help make his work better.
Legions of fans, money in the bank, and all of it done without selling all the rights to his work. For those of us following in their wake, authors like Howey and Matther are leading the way, creating a new path to success in publishing.