The incredible whininess of being

Image via, illustration by Leah Goren 

Image via, illustration by Leah Goren 

Emily Gould would like you to know that getting a $200,000 advance for her first book has ruined her life. 

That's because her memoir, "And The Heart Says Whatever," failed miserably and that "essentially guarantees that no one will ever pay [her] that kind of money again." 

Contrast Gould's whiny harangue to the story of Andy Weir, a science fiction author and "general science geek," who who released his debut novel, "The Martian," as a self-published ebook. The price: a mere 99 cents. 

Weir's clever and brainy tome, about an astronaut scuffling to survive after being abandoned on Mars, attracted a big fan base and scores of five-star reviews. Random House noticed and released "The Martian" in hardcover and on Kindle on February 11. 

You probably already know the punchline: Ten days later, "The Martian" debuted at No. 12 on The New York Times Bestseller List—an amazing feat for a nerdy science book. 

The world has changed—and not just for authors: If you want to build a fan base, you need to give up something of value to get something of value back. In fact, I'll bet that Weir's 99-cent gamble ends up netting him a multi-million-dollar movie deal. 

In the words of Seth Godin (who has championed this idea for years): "Ideas worth spreading, spread." And he didn't receive a $200,000 advance to publish that.