Chuck Palahniuk: ‘Fight Club was a huge failure’

By Jason Boog 

Do you feel like you have failed to reach readers with your writing? Never give up.

Fight Club and Choke novelist Chuck Palahniuk answered reader questions on Reddit this week. When one reader wrote “It’s rare for a writer’s first book to be as successful as Fight Club was,” Palahniuk clarified and shared some inspiring insight into his career:

Please let me address a misperception. ‘Fight Club’ was a huge failure. Most of the hardcovers were going to be pulped. They were unsold when the movie opened… and then the movie was a flop. It has taken years ( decades ) for the story to build an audience. What’s amazing is that it still resonates for young readers; it’s never become dated. ( he shakes his head in disbelief )

One reader asked about the future of journalism:

I was in a similar boat, as part of the generation who watched “All the President’s Men” and decided to become journalists. ( stupid, stoopid, stoopid ) We glutted the field. Likewise, my friend and fellow writer, Chelsea Cain, was a journalism major ( and got her post-grad degree ). The good news is that journalism trains you to be observant and to communicate clearly ( if not spell accurately ). Those are the skills that will save you.

The novelist also talked about his unorthodox promotion strategy, sharing boxes of strange materials with his readers:

The boxes! I’m always looking for clever, novel things to send but my favorites are boxes of chocolates. They seem like such a luxury. The oddest thing ( thing? ) was some of the cremated remains of the writer Shirley Jackson, who wrote “The Haunting of Hill House.” Her daughter sent me the ashes, and I sent them ( in a carved antique box ) to my editor, Gerry Howard. I wish I had more of the same to send my editor at Byliner, Amy Grace Lloyd. She deserves some baked writer ashes … Sometimes I takes me days to compile a box. Usually — and I’m getting more careful about this — I look for clever, useful, beautifully packaged things. My theory is that if I vary them it’s more likely at least one thing will occur as a delight for you.
( secret? I try to send smells, sounds, flavors, and i avoid sending more words. gosh i hate to type. )