One year ago today, I worked my last day at the bookstore. I can’t begin to describe the mix of terror and excitement I felt. This was only a week or two after the Wool Omnibus came out. I had yet to hit any bestseller lists; I hadn’t yet signed with an agent; there was no film deal, no foreign deals. Just a handful of 99 cent and $1.99 titles selling well enough to replace what I was making shelving books.
The demands on my time were starting to grow, which was why I put in my notice. I decided to give this career a shot. For the three years prior, I’d been writing and publishing at a furious pace but working a day job on the side to pay my meager bills. Working in a university bookstore meant interacting with a lot of authors; a good portion of the faculty wrote. We had a visiting writers program, and I worked most of those events. Everyone I knew who wrote had a day job. There just isn’t much hope of paying the bills by the pen alone.
I saw a comment on Twitter today remarking on how many reviews Wool had garnered in the UK considering the hardback just came out last week. What they don’t know is that the e-book has been available for a year! Plus, the paperback edition hit bookstores in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa over a month ago.
This isn’t how it normally works. Publishers have caught a lot of flack from readers for a process called “Windowing.” That’s where they release the hardback and wait a while before releasing any other version. As a bookseller, this drove me nuts. Bill (my manager at ASU’s bookstore) and I would watch great works of fiction come in and sit on the shelves. Very few people want to pay for a hardback work of fiction, even with a 20% or 30% discount. A lot of readers prefer paperback because it’s lighter and they can fold it back on itself while they read.
Just got word from my editor in the UK that Wool went to #8 on the Sunday Times bestseller list! This is on its first full week of being on sale. I’m so thankful for all of the readers who picked up a copy, so thankful for Random House/Century and all the amazing promotional work they put into this release. But most of all, I’m thankful for all of the incredible authors who decided to release their books some other time. Lucky break, that!
It should go without saying that I never expected even a tiny fraction of the readership I’ve been blessed with. I always assumed it would be my wife, my mom, and my sister reading my books. For a long while, it was like pulling teeth to get close friends and family to read my stories. The general assumption, I suppose, was that my books must suck because they weren’t in bookstores. There’s such a mystique around authors and books (they can’t be normal people!), and this made it difficult to convince anyone to take my work seriously.
I’ll never forget the day I told my former coworkers at Audio Video Headquarters that I was going to write a novel. They laughed. A few months later, I gave my old boss a copy of the first Molly Fyde book. I don’t think he’s read it yet. The guy I worked beside at my old bookstore, who watched me disappear into the conference room every lunch break to work on WOOL still hasn’t read anything of mine. Both are voracious readers and great friends. It just goes to show what a pariah a newly minted author can be.
I haven’t been great about posting interviews and reviews to my blog, mostly because I already spam Facebook and Twitter with those links, but I’m going to try and get better. Just in case any of you are interested in these things. Maybe I’ll add a separate page just for links to major reviews and interviews.
Here’s an interview that just went up with SFX Magazine. They recently reviewed WOOL and loved it. (Here’s the review)
Colleen Hoover, a fantastic author you should check out, just announced a print-only deal with Simon and Schuster. This is an even bigger development than my agreement, because it signals a trend rather than an anecdote. How long before other publishers realize they need to offer similar concessions to successful indies or miss out on ready profits? How long before established authors ask to retain digital rights for new books in popular series?
Interesting times. Feel free to pop by Colleen’s blog and leave your congrats. I did!
4 out of 5 beta readers can’t be wrong, can they?
Well, maybe. Feedback from one of my beta readers has highlighted room for improvement. This is plot-level work, not grammar and typo stuff, which means getting up tomorrow morning and hammering away at major sections of the book. The release date, tentatively set for the end of January, may get moved back a week or so. All of this comes while I’m on the road for movie-related stuff, so bear with me. I really want this series to wrap up satisfactorily for all. I hope you agree!
An amazing story was just self-published on Amazon. It takes place in a buried silo where population control is critical, the Down Deep is flooding, and loved ones are being put to death. It is suspenseful and gut-wrenching. It is based on Wool. And I didn’t write it.
This isn’t the first piece of fan fiction from the Wooliverse. Lacuna author David Adams brought us Shear Terror, a frightening and brilliant satire of Wool fandom-gone-wild. It took place within our world while referencing Wool, and rumor has it that David is now wrapping up another story from within the Wooliverse. Meanwhile, WJ Davies has just released one of his own.
And honestly, this is in spite of my name being on the thing. George R.R. Martin, Ursula K. LeGuin, Terry Brooks, Ernie Cline, William Gibson. All in different colors. How badass is this?
My question is this: Name the two authors (that’s all that will fit thanks to Georgie!) whose names you’d like to see squeezed on there.
Also: How much would you bid on this thing if it were up for auction (not that it ever will be; I think the owner knows it’s priceless to him.)
I’ve been looking forward to this day for a very long time. Random House UK picked up Wool back in April or May, what has felt a lifetime ago. All of the editorial work, media mentions, pre-release decisions, have led up to this. It’s half past ten in London right now, and copies of Wool are probably sitting out for the first time. I feel an incredible mix of excitement and nerves. This is another step in what has been a lifelong dream and has come to fruition in the most surreal manner possible. Thanks again to all the readers who helped spread the word about these books. It wouldn’t have happened without you!
A shot of Wool in the London Tube:
This is totally not fair. I haven’t had my first Saskatchewan meet-up, and here I am having my third in the Big Apple. I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to do this, as my week has gone from Brittany Spears insane to Lindsey Lohan insane, a considerable bump on the Cruise-a-Meter. But I posted on FB that I’m here, and readers are threatening to leave me for Sue Grafton if I don’t complete the NYC Meet-Up Trilogy.
The only way I can make this work is to do it right here in the hotel. I’m in room number