About the Author

img-hugh Hugh Howey is the author of the award-winning Molly Fyde Saga and the New York Times and USA Today bestselling WOOL series.
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Wool Omnibus

Wool

Book 1 of the New York Times blockbuster Silo Saga.

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A new short story just went live.

Funny how I feel bad charging 99 cents for something that took a little over a week to put together. Is it worth a dollar from the reader for the 10 minutes it takes to get through the story? I don’t know. I can only leave the guitar case open and keep strumming.

There have been a lot of stories about AI coming to life. But once we get past the initial event, and all the political and economic ramifications, what about all the little AIs that come after? How many strange and wonderful scenarios are there?

Asimov did this with robots. He went past the gee-wow creation and looked at the breakdown of the utilitarian machines. Anyway, here it is. Steal it somewhere if you can’t afford the cover price.

The Box CoverAbove is the full cover art for the story. Yeah, it’s simple. But if you read the story, you might appreciate the design. There is nothing outside the box. But there’s a straining inside; the box is overly full; it’s set to explode. I wasn’t sure if it would work on the Amazon store or not, but the effect is pretty cool. You can’t see the edges of the book, just like on my website, directly above. So the cover looks like a small square. And of course there’s no name on it. If you read the story, you’ll understand why. Labels are like colors, and they say just as much.

 

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I couldn’t wait to own my first house. I mean, I literally couldn’t wait.

The closing date was still a week away, but I was already over at my future home on Taft St. in Hollywood, leveling a plot of soil in the back yard, spreading sand, and installing pavers. There was a covered arbor back there, and I wanted to create a patio where before there was just a patchwork of grass, soil, and loose rock. In the middle of the yard there was also a huge tangle of vines covering an old fish pond. Soon, I would have this up and running as well.

The owner of the house didn’t mind my enthusiasm. In fact, he very much didn’t mind. A lovely gay man, he spent the week sipping lemonade on the new patio and offering suggestions and advice as I worked on what would soon be my yard. I was learning not only how much I would love my first home, but how much I would love improving it and working on it.

I’d had the same experience with my first sailboat, Xerxes. I would stay up past midnight at times with a miner’s light on my forehead doing odd projects around the deck. Owning something is to want to care for it. Especially if you worked hard for the money used to acquire that thing. When something is given to you, or when you’re just renting, it’s hard to put the same effort in for its upkeep and improvement. Not to say it doesn’t happen, just that there’s something primal about sweeping out our caves and putting up some bison art.

There’s a myth out there about self-publishing related to this. Because of the big publishing houses’ eroding market share and growing irrelevance, there’s a concerted effort going on to promote traditional publishing as at least a viable alternative to going it on one’s own. The industry has moved quickly from besmirching self-publishing to attempting to sell the middleman-enriching route. Which is understandable; they want to lure in clients and continue making most of the profits off our art. But there is something abysmally wrong with many of their arguments, and we owe it to aspiring authors to point those fallacies out. Continue Reading →

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This is a weird one, and it seems that it’s been going on a long time. I’ve gotten messages via Facebook and email to let me know that people are stealing my identity and then asking people for money, saying their daughter is sick. One scam artist is using pictures of my niece on their Facebook profile. I’ve also had people come on Facebook accusing me of being the one doing this, as if that makes more sense than some con artist downloading my pics and starting up their own account.

If you are reading this, you know who I am, and you know if I ask you for money to tell me to “Fuck off.” But that doesn’t help the people who are being scammed who don’t read my blog. Look, no one is stealing my identity because I’m an author. They are stealing my identity because my pictures are freely available, and because I wear soothing blue colored t-shirts, and everyone knows to trust a guy with a winning smile and a blue t-shirt.

I’m not the only person they take pictures of. The only reason these people get busted, and I even hear about the scams, is because they nabbed pics from someone who has tens of thousands of Facebook followers. That increases the chance of some overlap. Again, they aren’t taking my pics because I’m quasi-well-known. They are morons for taking pics from someone with so many followers. The rest of the con artists are invisible, because they are wiser.

If you see this shit happening, report it. Telling me about it won’t solve anything. I can’t stop these people. And no, I’m not going to wall myself off from the rest of the world because there are bad people who take advantage. There will always be bad people who take advantage. My general advice is this: If someone you don’t know is asking for money, assume the worst. Most people in dire need have at least a friend or a family member to turn to. And if they don’t, there are political and religious institutions who will help an honest person in need.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Even if the dude is wearing a blue shirt and looks a lot like me. In fact, if you see anything like that, run like hell.

 

 

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Just spent a month in St. Francis Bay looking over the build of Wayfinder. Here’s the video I shot on the last day:

I’m now in Cape Town, and won’t be back to St. Francis Bay until early August. At that point, the boat should be close to going into the water. It still doesn’t feel real. I remember this feeling when I bought my first sailboat in Baltimore back in 1995. My friend Scott and I crawled through the boat, filled it with supplies and sailed down to Charleston with all kinds of crazy adventures along the way.

There’s something about living at sea that just feels right to me. I could have spent the same amount of money on a house, a car, property taxes, power bills, water bills, cable, internet, etc., and I wouldn’t be nearly as happy. With a boat, you are self-sufficient. You make your own water and power. You catch as much of your food as possible. And when you move from place to place, you take everything with you.

I look forward to taking you all with me on this trip, whoever wants to follow along. A lot of writing to do. A lot of reading. A lot of learning.

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I have a Christian friend wrestling with the fact that his son is gay. He reached out to me on Facebook, remembering two posts of mine that dealt with this topic in the past, a topic I’m very passionate about. In speaking with him, another thought occurred, a frame of reference for those trying to square their faith with the fact that not all people are born the same. Before I got to that frame of reference, I recapped my earlier posts.

First, I pointed out that some people are born with both sets of genitalia. Not only is gender on a continuum (gender being whether we feel male or female), our physical sex is not even black and white (sex being a measure of our plumbing). People are also born incapable of having children, both men and women. Those of us who see the world through the lens of evolution and genetics have little trouble with nature’s grand menagerie. Those who see the world through a religious lens have a bit more mental calisthenics to perform.

The first of my earlier posts looked at homosexuality from a religious historical perspective. The gist is this: The Bible has different sets of rules in it. There are the rules of ethics, and the rules of survival. The rules of ethics deal with not killing, stealing, and lying. The rules of survival are there because life was tenuous in the past, and populations wavered on viability. This is why Leviticus is full of advice on how to care for dung shovels, what foods to not mix, and other questions of hygiene. And yes, violating these rules was punishable by damnation and death. Little distinction was made regarding punishment. Continue Reading →

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If you miss a chance to see Mad Max on the big screen in 3D, your life will be just a little bit emptier.

It’s an hour and a half since the credits rolled, and I still can’t believe what I experienced. I don’t want to hype it to the point of disappointment, but I will say that I don’t think a film like this has ever been made before, and nothing has blown my mind like this since THE MATRIX.

This is, in my opinion, the greatest action film made to date. And they really don’t need to make a WOOL film or a SAND film anymore. Themes from both books, along with settings and characters (even preferred actors) are all in here. I’m satisfied. Thank you, George Miller and everyone involved with this masterpiece. Wow.

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Erin Latimer: My audience is mainly teens…okay, it’s pretty much all teens. And the thing is, most of them don’t have credit cards. They’re not allowed buying stuff on the internet. So…how do I sell them books? I’m a little nervous I’m going to get to my launch date in September and my book is going to crash and burn because none of my teen readers will be able to purchase it.

 

Erin’s email was much longer than this, and she listed a bunch of things she’s doing right, but my response was ballooning, so I figured I’d do a YA-specific blog post. Before I get to the YA part, I want to address Erin’s fear of her book crashing and burning. This only happens in traditional publishing, where first-week sales are crucial for a work’s success. This isn’t true with self-publishing. My YA works written six years ago sell great today, with zero marketing and with a quiet launch. Your works are forever. Your hopes for them shouldn’t be so brief.

As for the YA market, it can be a different beast in some ways, but probably not as great as some claim. We hear that print books are still coveted by younger readers, but one survey (in the link below) showed roughly half of teens prefer print books, and the other half had no preference or prefer ebooks. And we’re seeing shopping habits adjust to reflect this shift in attitudes.

This PW article has a lot of information and some great graphs. Keep in mind that these numbers are from Nielsen, so they greatly exaggerate the print component. These are numbers from works with ISBNs, which miss at least a third of the ebook market. Nielsen’s data gives us an idea of what’s going on in the Big 5, but not the market as a whole. And even here, we can see that the number of YA books purchased in physical retailers is on the decline, and online book shopping and ebook purchases are on the rise. That means indies are gaining a wider potential audience for their work, and this audience is only growing.

The preference for print books with many young readers might never go away, and there’s a good reason for this. Young adults enjoy being seen with their hobbies, as it helps define them, and helps them find like-minded peers. We adorn ourselves throughout life in order to define ourselves to others, but this is strongest, I think, as we are becoming our own people. I know that it was important for me to define myself as a reader. It was something I was proud of as a kid. I wanted to be around other readers. I “wore” my books the way another kid might wear a Nirvana t-shirt, to advertise our tastes, strike up conversations, and form bonds with others.

I used the word “might” there, because there is one way I see this changing. These days, I see a dedicated e-reader as the greatest sign that one is an avid reader. One idea an indie author or publisher might play with is creating a “deluxe ebook edition.” This would come with a “skin” for the back of their e-reader, which would show off their favorite work even as they move on and read other books. It could also come with a wall vinyl of the spine of the book, which could go on the readers’ “bookshelf,” growing into a collection of spines across their bedroom walls. Understanding the need to advertise our interests can direct promotional efforts, rather than giving up on ebooks. Continue Reading →

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Dear Mother,

How are you?

Wish you could see this place.

I’m at the tip of Africa, this mother continent from which we came, and I’m thinking of you.

The sea here is rough, the coastline a jumble of rock and stone. The waves pound and pound without ever giving up, and you marvel that there’s any rock left. That it hasn’t all been turned to sand.

There’s one rock apart here. Alone. It sits out further than the rest, like it’s itching to get somewhere. Impatient. Headstrong. Eager. Or like it refuses to fit in. And I think of you.

I think of you in college, studying math, programming computers with punch cards, doing your own thing, standing apart.

I see you beside your brother, in the hospital, supporting him.

I see you with three kids, alone, working job after job.

I see you reading to us. I see you fishing in your purse for the money you didn’t have, and finding it anyway.

I see you falling in and out of love.

The waves here are cruel. Relentless. And I don’t know whether by some fate, some hidden feature, the lay of the land or some bar of rock or sand, but they funnel and meet and crash just on this one rock.

Nothing deserves this. And yet look how stoic. That proud rock under a cloud of spray. Rainbows are thrown across the sky. How is it still standing?

There’s all the world for the waves to go, but they land on her one by one, merge and converge. They come for you, mate after mate, as if some hand of fate, but it’s just the lay of the land, those bars of rock and sand, until all that’s left are walls of foam and rainbows.

She’s still there. The tip of this mother continent. I expect her to drown, to not emerge, but the sea subsides, and she lifts her proud granite chin, and I can almost hear her laughter amid the gulls.

I wish better for you, Mom.

But then my eye falls to the cliff before me, where calm seas lie behind that great rock, and there are pools here full of life, and shell, and wonderful, beautiful things, all in the happy shelter beneath rainbows and gentle foam.

There is calm all around that rock. And life’s not fair, but you kept me from drowning there.

I sit upon your curved and craggy spine, Mother Rock, and all the seas take aim. But the rock remains. How is it still standing?

How are you?

-Hugh

 

 

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One of my best friends here in South Africa took me kite surfing today. He warned me it would take a few lessons to get the hang of it. The first place we went, the winds were too choppy. The kite was backing and then filling with air and lifting him off the sand. So we packed up and drove to the cape, where the seas were rougher but the winds steadier.

The winds were STRONG. We pumped up the kite, and Mauro took it aloft. I flew large kites for years in Charleston, but this is a different beast. You could drag ten people across the sand with one of these. The wind was 25 or so mph. Mauro landed the kite, and I stepped into the harness.

We sent it up, and immediately I felt the power of the thing. It was a 9 meter kite, one he’d never flown before. Took a few minutes to feel in control of it, and then Mauro had me power the kite down and drag myself across the sand, my feet leaving twin ruts in a large zigzag.

It was a rush. Depowering the kite (sending it straight up overhead), I would run and skip and whoop back to where he was, then do it all over again. After a few rounds, I took a break and Mauro went out into the surf. The walls of foam were over 3 feet high, and he just jumped them, carving the waves and zipping back to shallow water before heading back out.

When he came back, he showed me how to jump on the sand. I put the harness back on and powered up the kite, took a few tentative leaps, and by the fifth or sixth one, I was going about six or eight feet off the ground and a distance of twenty feet or so. I could do just this, no board, no water. My cheeks started hurting from the permagrin. Mauro warned me it was addictive, and I could feel it. I asked him if I could try the board. He said “No way.” I begged. He finally relented. Continue Reading →

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The Cape Town Meet-Up is happening! It’ll be on Thursday, May 21st, at 5:30pm at Book Lounge. They’re at 71 Roeland St. Here’s their website.

hugh howey invite

Refreshments for half an hour, a meet-and-greet, and then a discussion with a local author, followed by a book signing.

Hope to see you there!

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This question comes from Tom, over on Facebook. I started typing a reply, and as is my wont, a quick reply turned into a blog post.

Tom: As a voracious ebook reader, Hugh, I’m curious about author income per sale across different vendors.

For example if an imaginary author’s ebook is available from Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and an author’s own site (for example), all for the same price, is there a difference in what the author makes depending on which vendor I purchase from?

The reason I ask is that as a reader, wanting to encourage authors whose work I enjoy, I would prefer to have the largest percentage possible go to the author rather than someone else.

This seems like a simple question, but there’s a lot to consider. First, a look at the payout percentage.  Continue Reading →

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may-2015-combined-titlecount

Three years ago, I was faced with a decision. A very difficult decision. The WOOL OMNIBUS was selling well enough for me to quit my day job and make a go of it as a full-time author, while at the same time, major publishers were making incredible offers for the rights to my book. Six-figure offers became seven-figure offers. In the end, I turned those offers down.

The retelling of that decision often makes it sound like I knew what I was doing, or that I was confident in my position. I wasn’t. All I had were educated guesses. I had years of working as a bookseller, of watching ebooks gain ground, and seeing how readers reacted to having ebooks delayed, and how they reacted when the price of an ebook was higher than the paperback. I watched 1-star reviews pile up on my favorite authors’ works, and I saw that publishers often reacted out of fear of change rather than out of a desire to please their customers.

Their customers — I learned from working at that bookstore — was in fact us, the retailer. Not the reader. The checks to publishers came from us. We were the ones — as booksellers — who worked to please the readers.

This realization helped guide my decision. I knew if I made a deal, that the price of my ebooks would shoot up. And so during negotiations, I pushed for guarantees on price caps. Numbers were bandied about. Those numbers were very far apart. At the same time, I saw from foreign publishers that as soon as I signed overseas deals, emails would trickle in through my agent asking if I could raise the price on the English editions in their countries. Continue Reading →

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