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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A novel of desolation and of family, of lawless lands that the gods have turned their backs on. Not a part of the WOOL series.

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No, the Liliana Nirvana is not a secret massage chakra technique. But it may be the secret to launching a successful self-publishing career.

The effectiveness of this technique hit me at RWA. I attended a panel entitled “Self-Publishing Q&A.” It was two jam-packed hours of tossing out questions to mega bestselling authors Barbara Freethy, Bella Andre, Courtney Milan, and Liliana Hart. Of the four, only Liliana entered self-publishing without first having had a career with a traditional publisher. This anomalous beginning stood out during their introductions, but the uniqueness of Liliana’s success disappeared during the Q&A. Why? Because Liliana published as if she had a traditional publishing history.

She calls it her “5 down and 1 in the hole” technique. (No, this is not a page from the Kama Sutra. It’s far more important than that.)

Now, I should start by saying that there is no guarantee for success with any publishing path. My good friend and publishing genius Bella Andre disagrees with the ideas I’m about to set forth. And if you give me enough time and contradictory case studies, I might come to disagree with it as well. But right now, I lean toward thinking Liliana’s technique is absolutely brilliant. I think she discovered something that a lot of us lucked into. I think my own success owes something to the “5 down and 1 in the hole” publishing strategy.

So what exactly is it? Continue Reading →

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We have entered a new and very bizarre phase of the Amazon / Hachette negotiations. Now that Amazon has come out and stated its ideal terms, which turn out to be entirely reasonable, the tactics from those who hate Amazon, no matter what they do, have gone from misguided to just plain crazy.

Amazon says it is fighting for reasonable ebook pricing. This matches a long history of actions from Amazon. Their focus on ebooks at $9.99 or below is why publishers had to break the law and collude with one another in order to artificially raise prices on readers. So we have an established pattern of behavior here of Amazon fighting for reasonable ebook pricing and publishers working together to screw readers.

Now that Amazon’s book team has come out and flatly stated their intentions, the response from some has been to assume that Amazon is lying. The response from others has been to say that Amazon is a corporation. And the mantra repeated to anyone who appreciates Amazon as a business partner is that “Amazon is not your friend.”

So, no one has anything to say about the actual arguments and positions from either side? Is that what I’m hearing? To equivocate between Amazon and Hachette by saying both are corporations is absolutely absurd. Monsanto and Whole Foods are both corporations. So they’re the same, right? No need to look any further?

I’d rather dig deeper than that, if nobody minds.
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Temporary SAND tattoos might soon be a thing. If you were getting a SAND tattoo, what would it say? Is there a line from the book you’d enjoy? Or maybe slogans from various dive clans? Something like: Go Deep or Go Home. Or: Don’t bother, I’ll bury myself.

Leave your ideas or favorite lines in the comments. If we use your suggestions, I’ll send you something cool. Some really awesome SAND stuff in the works that we’ll be able to announce soon.

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For the longest time, getting a word out of Amazon required rubber gloves, lube, a stick of gum, and a length of string. During the ongoing negotiations with Hachette, that has changed. I mean, Amazon practically won’t shut up these days. Their latest blog post is particularly dense with revelations, and it should serve as a wake up call for authors and readers.

Here’s a link to their post. You should read it. Seriously.

As many have been predicting, Amazon is fighting for lower prices for their customers. It has also been posited over and over that lower ebook prices would generate more revenue for all involved, and now Amazon backs this up by revealing calculations pulled from their industry-best sales data. So who is Hachette fighting for, if they are resisting terms like these? The only people I can think of are those who sell millions of physical books at bookstores. You know, the Prestons, Pattersons, and Colberts. The top 1%.

Just as immense here is Amazon’s call for higher pay for authors, which is neatly tucked within the folds of their post. Amazon comes right out and states that they are asking for 30% on the sale of ebooks, which is what they currently get from most self-published titles. It is an entirely reasonable percentage for a retailer (bookstores get 40% – 50%). What I love, though, is that Amazon then suggests that the remaining 70% should be split evenly between the author and the publisher. Continue Reading →

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Some analysts appear to be confused about how so many authors can possibly be making more money while overall spending on reading is flat. Let’s see if we can’t figure this contradiction out.

The analyst linked to above gave a presentation at RWA (Romance Writers of America) last weekend. In both the blog post and the RWA presentation, we are shown this graph:


If reading dollars are flat, then author earnings should be flat, right? Not necessarily.

Let’s start with the fact that the above graph includes newspapers and magazines, which are down. Here are the trends for magazines. And here are the trends for newspapers. You would think, at a conference for novelists, that this would be taken into account. Now, if the spending on total reading is flat, and two of the three reading types are down, that probably means the revenue for trade fiction is up. We can only guess here, because the wrong data is being used for the wrong purposes.

Continue Reading →

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Issue #5 of the WOOL comic book series hit Comixology today. The cover art for this issue is from my favorite scene in the novel, when Jules dives down to restore the pumps. Also, tomorrow is when the first issue hits physical comic book shops, so I’m looking forward to going out and sourcing a copy.

Just one more issue left before the story is wrapped up. And if you think you know how it ends . . . you probably don’t. :)

The comic series is available at Comixology and also at Amazon. Another huge thanks to Palmiotti, Gray, and Brox for the job they did with the adaptation.

WOOL 5 (Copy)


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Another gorgeous cover by M.S. Corley, this time for my short story, GLITCH. If you need artwork, hit him up for a quote.

Glitch_ebook_final (1)


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A great exchange over at The Passive Voice. William Ockham, one of the great thinkers on all things publishing, put forward two of the criticisms he’s seen of the AE data. Data Guy chimes in with a third problem, and explains how all three criticisms do not alter the conclusions drawn from our reports. When people point to the vapid and non-existent but supposed “refutations” of our data, this might be a good link to rebut with.

I do apologize to those whom this information proves troubling, but it is a fair view of what is happening in the world of ebooks today. And all the trends we’ve seen point in the same direction.

I have seen a couple of interesting criticisms of the AE reports. The first is that Big 5 authors get substantially more in advances than the standard royalty rates would suggest (40% of gross was one figure mentioned). Assume for a minute that contention is true. Now take a look at the data from AE on the percentage of Big 5 earnings from titles originally published before 2011. Those are books that have definitely earned out. Create a model from the AE data that makes that 40% figure work. Publishing looks like a very strange business indeed. Spoiler alert! I suspect that that 40% of gross comes from looking at the first year income of a publishers’ titles. The Big 5 has always had what KKR calls the “produce model” of selling books.

The other criticism of the AE data is that the Big 5 is getting more than the Amazon retail price for many of their best sellers (i.e. Amazon is selling at a loss). This could skew the numbers somewhat. If this is indeed a big issue, there is a simple way for those publisher insiders (looking at you Jeremy Greenfield) to prove this. Replicate the AE approach, but pull the amount you believe the publisher is receiving. If that is beyond your technical ability, I would be happy to do it for you. For my standard overtime rates, $250/hour.

Continue Reading →

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I open a mountain of mail on no sleep after a full day of travel.

 Part 1: Ben Adams

In this first part, I go through my Ben Adams mail. If you want to get in on the awesomeness that is Ben’s art, support him on Patreon. It’ll be the best thing you do with your monthly dollar (besides donuts [and bacon]).

 Part 2: The Small Pile

 Part 3: The Big Boxes

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Check out this awesome cover from M.S. Corley. The short story is SECOND SUICIDE, and it just went live on Amazon. 99 cents (or free on Kindle Unlimited).

With Jason Gurley retiring from cover art (he dropped the mic and walked off the stage, because he’s a badass like that), Corley is stepping in to work his own magic. I added him to the Indie Toolbox on the sidebar, in case you want to contact him. Just don’t bumrush him and make it impossible for me to get my covers!

secondsuicide_ebook_FINAL copy

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Sitting at the airport in Charlotte, working on a romance novel, on my way to the Romance Writers of America’s writing conference in San Antonio.

The Friday night meet-up is going to be an informal, ad-hoc affair. Probably one of the Marriott lobby bars. Whoever is there will just be part of the meet-up, even if they don’t wanna be. Tough luck. We’re going to force people to have fun.

My panel is at 2pm on Friday, in Salon 1 of the Rivercenter Marriott Hotel. The panel is entitled: THE DOWN AND DIRTY: WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN OUTLIER. But I’m going to try and deflect that nonsense and talk about what it means to do what you love with your every spare moment, and damn the outcomes and the consequences.

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Douglas Preston is doubling down on his pressure for Amazon to capitulate to his publisher, Hachette. He has written a letter proclaiming that his group, known as “Authors United,” is full of “the finest writers in English language,” the sellers of “billions of books,” that their readers “listen when they speak,” and that this “represents power.”

The problem is, Douglas Preston doesn’t seem to understand what Hachette is fighting for. It isn’t a secret; Hachette is fighting for higher prices for readers. They’ve said as much to their investors. We also know from this slide from HarperCollins that publishers are now making better margins on ebooks than on their hardbacks, a fact that agent Brian DeFlore says publishers have been lying to agents about for years.

The collusion and price-fixing case in 2010 was so much about the $9.99 price point, that when Publishers Weekly wrote an ebook about the trial, they entitled the book THE BATTLE OF $9.99. Amazon wants ebooks to cost no more than $9.99. I can see this very clearly in my own self-publishing contracts with them. If I price my ebooks over $9.99, they reduce my royalty from 70% to 35%. The reason Hachette colluded with its competitors a few years ago was to put an end to this price point and force Amazon to sell ebooks at $14.99 or even higher. Part of that reason is simply to retard the growth of ebooks and protect print.

The irony here is that Douglas Preston has been on the wrong side of this maneuvering in the past. In 2010, Hachette delayed the release of Douglas’s ebooks in order to protect their print sales, which angered his readers. They also priced his ebooks at $14.99, and Douglas heard from fifty or so readers who said they’d never read his books again. Preston lashed out at these readers, saying that they were acting entitled:

“The sense of entitlement of the American consumer is absolutely astonishing…. It’s the Wal-Mart mentality, which in my view is very unhealthy for our country. It’s this notion of not wanting to pay the real price of something…. It gives me pause when I get 50 e-mails saying ‘I’m never buying one of your books ever again. I’m moving on, you greedy, greedy author.’”

Continue Reading →

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