Being Indie: A Discouraging Observation

Alec Merta Novels, Science Fiction, Writing Leave a Comment

I am a huge fan of Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar. In fact, during a time in my life wherein I get to the theater about once a year, I saw it twice. You won’t be very surprised, then, to learn that I have been visiting Amazon.com once a day for some time trying to pre-order the film.  

For day after day, I performed a text search with that one word: Interstellar. The results included many things, but none of them were the movie. Soon, I began to scroll down the list to see what items were presented to me by Amazon. Mostly these were links to the soundtrack and various tie-ins produced in conjunction with the film.  

One item stood out.

Presented on the first page of the search results was an item titled Interstellar 2: What happens after Nolan’s Interstellar Movie? The item was a book, and you can see it here. Its cover art features the text “Interstellar 2” (no explanatory text as appears on the full description) and a still from the movie. The still is a rather poignant image showing Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway at a weak and vulnerable moment.

The author of this putative sequel? Why, none other than Chris Nolan. (He is, for some reason, listed as an editor on the Amazon description).

Pay attention here. The author is not Christopher Nolan. It’s some bloke named Chris. Or it isn’t.

So what we have is a book that is doing its level best to appear like a sequel to a major Hollywood motion picture. It uses art from the movie and it is written under a (possibly pseudonymous) name very close to that of the film’s director. Shocked yet? It gets worse.

The book is priced at $9.99, which is a damn site higher than most indie books I know of. And what do you get for your nearly ten bucks? 

Fourteen pages.

Now, I am not a bitter person (on late weekdays and some weekends), but this really sits poorly with me. I know legions of independent authors who invest their hearts and souls into novels that are original, interesting, and worth being bought. Nearly every single one of those books languishes in obscurity. Most have Amazon sales ranks worse than 300,000. Many have sales ranks worse than one millionth place.  

This, though, has a sales rank (at last check) of 136,680. That may not sound very impressive, but it is staggering when one considers that the Kindle Store contains well over one million items. How much money is the book making? I have no clue, but it must be considerable as it is out-selling at least 900,000 other titles.

And where is Amazon in all of this? What about the copyright issues at play? What does the studio think?

Again, I have no clue. But it is very, very depressing.

Alec Merta is an author, blogger, and producer of audio programs. His novel “From Here to Nearly There” is available on Amazon. The unabridged audiobook is available on Audible.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alecmerta