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


Book 1 of the New York Times blockbuster Silo Saga.

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St. Francis 50 – Guinevere

I just spent a week aboard the sister ship to my future catamaran. This was hull #18 of the St. Francis 50 line. I helped sail the boat to the Miami Boat Show a few weeks ago, where I put a deposit down on hull #19. The next day, a lovely couple purchased Guinevere, the boat I helped deliver. The owner then invited me back to the Bahamas to spend a week on the boat, discussing its systems and plans.

I will take delivery of hull #19, Wayfinder, in July. We will sail it from South Africa to the U.S., and I’ll live permanently aboard. I’ll have a separate blog to detail the build process and travels. There will be some changes to this website to aid in navigation and to reflect a near future of far more writing, less blogging about books, and more blogging about life. It’s amazing that I have found something even less exciting to write about than the book trade, but I have.



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We spent one week every summer at a family beach house in North Carolina. All I could think about on the interminable drive to the sea was the small SunFish sailboat sitting in the garage of that house. Kicking off my shirt and shoes as soon as we arrived, I would drag the small boat to the sound at the back of the house and spend the next week tacking and gybing. If there was no wind, I worked the tiller back and forth to barely make way. As a very young boy, sailing made me feel free in a way nothing else could.

I read about Joshua Slocum’s adventures sailing around the world alone. I read about Sir Francis Chichester, Robin Knox Johnston, and Bernard Moitessier. I read about an amazing teenager named Tania Aebi who sailed around the world by herself on a dare from her father. When I moved to Charleston, I readily took any offer to get out on the water. Several of my friends had boats. When I met people who lived on small sailboats, I started looking into costs. It turned out that I could buy a boat for $10,000 — not much more than a decent car — and make it my home. So I did.

My best friend and I nearly killed ourselves bringing the boat down from Baltimore in January of 1996. I lived on the boat for the next five years. Three of these were while attending classes at the College of Charleston. One year was spent in the Bahamas, where I cruised off to after dropping out of school (why get a degree and slave away for 40 years to one day retire on a boat when I was already on one?) When my funds ran out, I realized the error of my calculations, so I started working odd jobs on other people’s boats to get by. This led to a career as a yacht captain, which kept me on the sea for the better part of the next decade.

I left the water years ago to follow my better half inland. Since then, I haven’t stopped planning and dreaming of getting back on a boat and sailing around the world. Or just sailing up and down the coast. The destination was never the thing, only the lifestyle. Meeting new people. Shifting horizons. Adjusting latitudes and attitudes, as Jimmy Buffett would say.

I am currently in Miami for the Sail Only Boat Show. It’s my third boat show in the last two years, as I’ve narrowed down on the make and model of my future home. But this is the week. In the next couple of days, I’ll put down a deposit, and by this summer, I’ll be living aboard again. If you see a catamaran named “Wayfinder” bobbing at anchor, that will probably be me. It’s a name with deep significance for me, something I’ll be writing about at length.

And that’s the miracle of working as a writer: I can do it from anywhere and everywhere. The past few years, I’ve done a lot of writing from airplanes and airports while on business trips abroad. SAND was entirely written overseas while traveling through seven different countries; I think it’s a better story because of those inspirations. In upcoming years, I may be writing near your home port.

In addition to my usual mix of fiction genres, I’m also working on a series of pieces about my past sailing adventures, my random thoughts about life and what-not, and a bit of a travelogue of my new journey and the people I meet along the way. Right about the time I make this transition, I’ll be turning 40. Age has always been a number to me, but this will be a birthday to truly celebrate. It marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. And you know me, I’m a fan of cliffhangers. I can’t wait to see what happens next.



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Our fifth Author Earnings report marks the first anniversary of this website. We now have a year of quarterly snapshots to analyze, and the results have been consistent while also revealing gradual trends.

This time around, we look at ebooks and ISBNs. There is an entire “shadow industry” of ebook sales uncounted by industry pundits. A year ago, we gave you the first look at a shadow industry of indie ebooks. This year, we get a first glance at the works that no one is tracking or counting.

Which raises the question: Do we need ISBNs? Probably something like them, but not at their current cost to benefit ratio. ISBN-less ebooks outsell those with ISBNs, which proves nothing except that ISBNs aren’t needed for sales success. If the industry or retailers want to track ebooks, let them offer a standardized and low-cost means to do so.

Another point is that ebooks change over time as authors update them and their backmatter. There may even be different editions for each retailer, so links point to sequels at that website. Expecting a different ISBN for each of these editions is not realistic. These numbers are simply a relic of the print days, which are on their way out. But that’s looking ahead to our next report.

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The Shell Collector is now up for pre-order on Audible!

Really excited about the voice acting for this novel. Samara Naeymi absolutely nails Maya Walsh. Give the sample a listen if you like.

And here’s the SoundCloud link as well.

In related news, my short story Glitch was given the audiobook treatment. It’s dynamite, if you ask me. Check it out on SoundCloud. And check out this blog review of the audio edition of Glitch here.

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I am currently somewhere off the coast of Cuba with intermittent internet access, so I’d like to thank Michael for taking over my blog today. Michael’s story is the real story of self-publishing. Yes, the vast majority of self-published works never sell in great numbers — just as the vast majority of queried works never sell a single copy (they never get the chance).

But there is a middle range of self-publishing success that gets almost no press. Michael’s story is one I could have written several years ago to describe what happened to me. I find these stories inspiring. And I understand that success is not a given, that it isn’t easy, that it requires a healthy dose of luck or the benevolent forces of the Great Algorithmic Unknown, but for me it helps to know that you don’t have to be the one in a million to make the hard work worthwhile. And it helps to know that writers with no prior following are still seeing results if they tell great stories.

Now I turn it over to Mr. Banner.

Best-Selling AND Unknown
by M.L. Banner

Nine months ago, I self-published my first book on Amazon. I won’t lie to you; this exercise was purely a flight of fancy for me. I really wasn’t planning a career in writing; only later did I find out I love to write. Then, something remarkable happened, an epochal event that changed everything for me: my book sold really well. Okay, maybe not Hugh-Howey-well, but still pretty darn good: over 2000 the first 30 days and over 6000 in 60 days. Just so there is no confusion, I had no following (maybe 15 people I know personally bought my book), and I had never written anything longer than an article (I’ve written many of these) before this. I certainly never expected to have a #1 bestseller in my two genres. However, I can’t take the credit for this any more than I can attribute it to luck. I know I had to write a good enough book, with a professional cover, a captivating blurb and all that. Yet, there was something else at work here.

Continue Reading →

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They slide through the harbor on a catamaran, this future we. He, at the helm, hair touched blond by the sun and set in a permanent muss of salt spray. She, coiling a line with the practiced ease of a thousand miles.

Paddle boards are strapped along the rails, and towels are clipped out to dry. The sail is lashed to the boom in rough folds, not put away in the neat flakes of the largely unused. No, the sail is rumpled with joy, like clothes tossed to a bedroom floor.

Fenders adorn the side of the hull like ornament beads, promises of a night in port. But the ship will strain against her dock lines, halyards snap against spear-straight spars, a tan-brown beard seen on the bows, brought on by lapping waves.

This is a ship for the sea, a thousand miles left to go, another harbor to slide into — she at the helm this time, he coiling a line with the same care that he braids her hair.

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You may have heard the sky is falling. You may have heard that the self-publishing gold rush is over. There have been a number of forum threads, blogs, and articles about this lately. I’ve been mulling over whether there’s truth to the claims that everything is getting worse for indies. And naturally I have few thoughts:

My first thought is that self-publishing is maturing, which means it’s beginning to share some of the cynicism seen among many traditional writers. There’s a big difference in the subject of this cynicism, however. Forums for authors with traditional publishing aspirations have long been peppered with threads about the query grind, the rejection letters and emails that pile up from agents and publishers, and the desire to quit and give up on the hopes of ever making it as a writer.

For self-published authors, the situation is in some ways better and in some ways worse. It’s better in that their works have made it out to market where they had a chance of being purchased by readers. It’s better in that they probably spent more time writing the next work and less time writing query letters, pitching the last work, or doing endless rewrites according to the whims of some half-interested agent. Continue Reading →

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I recently posted a video describing my new digital reading lifestyle and why what I’ve learned signals a very strong future for digital books. I’m very curious about people’s reading habits, as a book lover, a book seller, and a writer. This week, two other avid readers chimed in. I’m loving these accounts.

The first I’ll share is from Joanna Penn, whose blog is amazing, and who is one of the nicest and smartest people in all of publishing. You should definitely read what she has to say. There’s so much overlap with my habits that it leads me to think that the natural advantages of digital reading are going to continue to win over converts.

The other response I saw was from Rachel Eliason, who dubs herself a “Digital Expat.” Like Joanna, Rachel had the same storage issues many voracious readers experience. Like myself, she enjoys being able to fit her entire library of books inside her purse. Her reading habits and experiences with going digital are super informative.

I hope to see more of these. And it would be great to hear from the people who tried digital but gave it up, or who read print and say they’ll never go digital. My suspicion for a long time has been that the heaviest of readers are the ones who will end up going digital, as cost and physical space are major constraints. Not to mention the instant access to a near-complete list of what’s been published.

This transition may end up looking a lot like the music transition to digital downloads. It took a while for music studios to focus on their digital products ahead of their physical CDs. What changed was the money flow. When most of their profits came from digital, that became their focus. This was driven by customer behavior and new products and online retail spaces. iTunes and the iPod led to the closing of the previously ubiquitous music stores, which changed the focus of music producers. It also helped to partially democratize the music publishing scene.

The same is happening with books. The iPod and iTunes equivalent are the Kindle and Amazon. The effect on the physical product is going to be the same, as will the effects on the publishing industry. I think this transition will be slower, however. And there will be more resistance. For a few reasons: Continue Reading →

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A common refrain in this new age of self-publishing is that there are too many books. The outflow of new material has been likened to all sorts of natural disasters spewing forth and flooding the land. Not only are there too many books, these books are way too cheap! Many of them are even — egads — free. From down here in Florida, one can hear the chant of Glut! Glut! Glut! emanating from the glass canyons of New York City.

Everyone must be referring to Project Gutenberg, right? If you head over to www.gutenberg.org, you’ll find 46,000 free ebooks, ready to download in multiple formats, or readable in your browsers. Check out their top 100 downloads; it includes many of the greatest works of fiction ever written. Half of this list could keep most readers busy for the rest of the year, and no one could hope to read all 46,000 titles in their lifetime. These are free books, arguably many of the best, so no more books need to be written or read, right?

If you followed the logic of the most paranoid and hysterical among the Glut-Chanters, you’d have to reach this conclusion. Bookselling is dead. There are enough fantastic and free books to last us all for the rest of our lives. And yet, book-buying continues to be a $30 billion dollar industry. What gives?

How can people spend $30 billion dollars on books when there are libraries full of books that just sit there, un-checked-out and without waiting lists? How can people spend $30 billion dollars a year on books when I’ve seen piles of free physical books on the streets of New York, abandoned and left for passersby after someone moved out of their apartment? Why are people spending this much money when library overstock sales get rid of hardbacks for a buck and paperbacks cost 50 cents? Literature is being devalued everywhere, and yet it still brings in $30 billion a year? What gives?

Continue Reading →

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The Amazon Fire Phone has been hammered by the media as a colossal failure. There’s at least a story a week about the device’s disappointing launch — and Amazon has been running promotions and fire sales (sorry) for months now. When the phone came out, it was tied to AT&T (which took it out of consideration for me without needing to look at a single feature or review). Since then, the phone has also been sold unlocked for use with any carrier, occasionally for less than most smartphones cost with a carrier’s subsidy (you can get one right now for $449, unlocked. But that price has occasionally dipped below $200).

Amazon took a write-off on its unsold stock of Fire phones last quarter to the tune of $170 million. That’s a lot of money. Or as one commentator pointed out, it’s basically a Hollywood flop for a film studio. Which they suffer all the time. Some are calling this an existential crisis. Others are more cautious with their criticism, remembering the reviews and doubts about the original Kindle. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently said that Amazon would be doubling down on its investment in the Fire phone and iterating until they get it right. And they need to. Pundits who say Amazon is making a mistake to develop a phone don’t seem to understand what’s at stake. Shopping began moving online two decades ago. Now it’s moving mobile.

Online shopping is still a fraction of total consumer shopping, and mobile is a fraction of that fraction, but both are gaining steam and present massive opportunities for whoever gets it right. My money is on Google for the interface and market share of eyeballs. My money is on Amazon for the distribution network and shipping speed. Google needs to solve the latter, and Amazon needs to solve the former.

Amazon already has the best and most popular online shopping interface, but Google is making major strides in that department. Search for a product on Google, and you’ll often find a better price from a non-Amazon vendor (I did recently, and the product is shipping from Italy for less than I could buy it here). The shipping might be slower this way, so it’s a matter of how quickly you need the thing. Google search dominates lives in a way that only Facebook can match. A staggering number of people interface with the internet by starting with Google. They go where Google’s algorithms take them. By offering the Android operating system for free, Google has crushed all competitors for mobile OS market share. So more mobile searches start with a Google search, which is great for Google shopping.

Continue Reading →

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The most important things to understand about the digital transition aren’t going to come from writers, publishers, or pundits. They’re going to come from readers. How are ebooks and digital reading devices affecting their habits, their purchasing decisions, their intake?

I’ve asked hundreds of people over the years. I bug strangers in airports and restaurants to find out what they’re reading, how they do most of their reading, and why. I was curious as an avid reader, then as a bookseller, and now as an author.

So I thought it might be useful to come clean about my reading habits. I’ve made the transition to all-digital reading. That might be hard to admit, but I’ve never been happier as a reader. I read a lot more, and it costs me quite a bit less.

What follows is an incredibly boring video. It’s me talking about my reading habits. But I wish, as an author and book lover, that I had access to hundreds of videos like this. It would help me understand the data on digital adoption, and it would help me plan for the future of publishing.

This is my confession as a digital immigrant.

One of the things I left out that I should have mentioned: Kindle Unlimited gets a lot of press on the writing side, but how does it affect my reading? When I finish a book and get several recommendations from Amazon, if one of those books is in KU (and one often is), I end up reading that book next. All else being equal, the free book wins out. (Not really free, because I pay a monthly subscription, but you know what I mean.) I read a lot of non-fiction, and I’m always surprised at how many quality books from major publishers are in KU. One of my current reads, The Joy of X, was picked up for this reason. It definitely influences my “purchasing” decisions.

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Yeah, I don’t do toy reviews. But you’ve got to try this thing. It was the thing everyone wanted to get their hands on this Christmas. Inexpensive, with hours of entertainment, and just as much fun to watch someone else play with it as it is to get your turn.

Here’s the link to grab one at Amazon. You’ll curse me and thank me.

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