I’m told my high-octane thriller might not be the usual Read It Forward fare. Bah! A good read is a good read is a good read. It’s like Gertrude Stein’s rose in that manner, only flatter, and in black and white. The bedrock of any good read is a good story. And as a side-stepping segue, I’ll share my personal publishing story, the one that took me from giving my books away for free to New York Times best-selling novelist.
My whole life I’ve been a big reader. Both of my parents are teachers. Growing up, my mom never cared what I was reading as long as my nose was buried in a book (usually Stephen King and other spooky tales). My dad took me to see King Kong in the theater in 1976. When that big gorilla started roaring and knocking in the bamboo fortress door, I cried and tried to run out of the theater. My dad thought that was hysterical – we paid good money, so dangit, we were staying! The second we walked out of the theater, I asked him when we could go see it again. From that moment, I knew I wanted to write stories that would thrill people the way that movie thrilled me.
So how long have I been trying to become an author? Since the third grade. I followed the usual routes, spent years finding an agent, then spent years with the agent working hard to land me a deal, but with no results. In 2005, I’d had enough of the gatekeepers and decided to start giving my stories away online as free, serialized audiobooks.
What We're Reading This WeekGet recommendations for the greatest books around straight to your inbox every week.
That is how Ancestor began— as an audio serialization running from September, 2005 to February, 2006. Ancestor reared its head again as a small-press novel, published on April 1, 2007. With no marketing budget, no advertising and no media coverage, the print version of Ancestor was the #2 novel on Amazon, second only to Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows. That success was due to my fan base (who call themselves “Junkies”) and word of mouth — a good story, as I mentioned, is a good story — even if it’s not on Oprah. Ancestor only held that high rank for a couple of days, mind you, but it was there, and that made all the difference.
I owe a lot to those Junkies. Back in the early days of podcasting my fiction, they would wait (impatiently) for their weekly “fix” of new chapters, and the name was born. These fiction addicts are a huge part of the enjoyment I get out of the business of writing books, and an even bigger part of my success. On my website, we interact to make better books (I ask for technical help often, as I’m not a scientist or a weapons expert, or even a cow expert). This community supports me (giving my stories away and letting the fans decide if my work was worth their money helped me land my publishing deal with Crown) and the members support each other. Real-life friendships are always a happy side effect of sharing your favorite books, and it’s been no different with the Junkies. Even though we are a largely virtual community, there was no lack of celebrating when my last book, Contagious, hit the New York Times bestseller list.
So now, Ancestor is back again, re-written with Crown’s fantastic editors, re-shaped as a summer blockbuster movie in book form. This novel represents all phases of my path as an author: from free, online audiobooks to surprise small-press success to bestselling hardcover novelist. Ancestor is the living metaphor for my dream to become an author, my hard work to reach that goal, my final success in getting an honest shot at the big time — and most importantly, at entertaining you and proving my worth as a storyteller.
Because this book means so much to me, I’ve been especially touched by the advance reviews it’s been generating. Mega bestselling author Steve Berry thinks it’s “a top-notch, action-packed adventure.” Publishers Weekly says it’s “a timely tale of science run amok that compels reading until the final page,” and Booklist calls it “a tremendously entertaining horror thriller.”
I’m excited to finally be bringing the story that started it all to a wider audience, and I hope you enjoy it.
Visit Scott and his “Junkies” online and learn about his newest video contest at www.scottsigler.com.