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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Howey_SAND_OMNIBUS_EbookEdition 100

Sand

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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There’s been quite a few pie charts tossed around the past week. With their colored wedges and little labels, it’s easy to see these pies as something to fight over. I see something else. I see all that white space outside the pie charts where the non-readers lie. I see people beyond the crust playing video games and watching TV. I see them on Facebook and on crappy-looking author blogs. I see them bored, antsy, and wishing they could be whisked off on some exciting adventure or to some exotic locale. I see places where we need more pie.

I am not in competition with any other author. My competition is with all the things non-readers are doing. I want more readers. I’m selfish like that. I justify it by telling myself that so many people would be happier if they had a book with them at all times. They can read while waiting in lines. While at the airport. While at the beach. Over meals. In bed. Less time staring at our phones and jabbing candy, more time reading.

It’s too late for many people. They’ve already learned that they hate to read. Breaking that mentality is difficult; I know from years of wearing down friends and family. Getting a first mate on one yacht to read a book about blackjack was a huge life accomplishment for me. A young man who said he hated books devoured one in a single sitting. We just need to get the right books to the right people. And we need to do it earlier.

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Some would call it cheating. My dad would call it “just a joke.” Either way, the crowds grew incredulous as my dad and I backed another long pace away from one another. Most of the contestants had fallen out. There was egg everywhere: yolk and splintered shells in the grass, remnants on the fronts of t-shirts, even in people’s hair.

A few of us were still in it. For many, the annual egg toss at our week-long Campmeeting retreat is the climax of Big Saturday’s games. Two lines of contestants and dozens and dozens of eggs. More than a hundred people participating and even more gawking. My dad had just caught our egg. With another two paces between us, he reared back and let fly with an underhand zing. Our white egg soared through the air, tumbling end over end, as I made ready to catch it over a hundred and fifty feet away.

The trick is to extend that catch as long as you can, to meet it high over your head and zip your hands back as quickly as you can, so that you slow the egg rather than catch it. A proper snag occurs over a very long distance. These are techniques honed over decades of Campmeetings.

Another solution, of course, is to simply hard-boil your egg. Some call this cheating. My dad found it funny. If the goal is to keep the egg intact, many might call it prudent.

Speaking of prudent, I’ve seen authors caution against putting all of our eggs in a single basket. This can refer to Amazon, where some authors opt for KDP Select and Amazon exclusivity. It can also refer to self-publishing, which people warn of doing exclusively; many think authors should go hybrid and diversify their publications. I see a huge problem with both of these eggs-in-the-same-basket arguments: Our eggs don’t break. Continue Reading →

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A reader came up to me at the Savannah Book Festival and asked when the next Molly book would be out. I honestly don’t know. I have two versions of this book in draft, one of which is long and complex; the other dives right into her next adventure. It might be a month of playing around with these before I decide which direction to take it. I can tell that I was writing the first of these for myself and the other draft for the reader. After the break, you can read the opening bits of the former.

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The first thing I ever wrote that I was truly proud of was a letter to my father. I wrote it to him on Father’s Day. I can’t remember how old I was, maybe 17? It’s all so nebulous, that period of my life. What I remember is how moved I was writing my thanks to him and how he responded to that letter. He came to me, tears in his eyes, letter in his hand, and gave me a big hug and thanked me.

I remember him looking at me a little incredulously that day, like he couldn’t believe what I’d written. Not the content, which I think he already knew, but the way I expressed it. Hell, it surprised even me. He let my stepmom read the letter, and she came to me with tears in her eyes. I already knew that words were powerful conduits through which we can convey meaning and emotion — I just never knew I had that ability.

I give my mom most of the credit for my love of literature, but my dad was always encouraging me and appreciating my stories. I shared an account of a near-death experience on my sailboat with him, and he raved for weeks and months and years about how much he loved my telling of that adventure. He has encouraged me from the beginning. I look up to my father — have always thought of him as a real-life superhero — and so writing became a way to make him proud.

My dad was my best friend for most of my childhood. I knew this early on and celebrated it and bragged about it. How many other kids considered their father their best friend? I didn’t know many. But I would get up at the crack of dawn during the summer months to go farming with him. I would sit on his lap and steer his pickup truck. I would dip into his tobacco when he wasn’t looking. I would lean out the truck window and throw up soon after. I slept on the floor of the bathroom while he showered, back when I was five or six years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. He would hold his jeans by the waist, jump up in the air, and shove both feet through at the same time, all before he hit the ground. My dad could fly. Continue Reading →

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This is a guest post by Tim Grahl, founder of Out:think, where he helps authors connect with readers and sell more books. Tim is also the author of Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book.

By most standards, I’m still new to the publishing industry. It’s been just five years since I worked on my first book launch campaign, but since that time I’ve worked with over 100 authors in just about every marketing capacity you can imagine. I’ve played the role of publicist, community organizer, web developer, social media expert and on and on.

In various roles I’ve bumped into the  New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller lists many times. I’ve helped launch two #1 New York Times best sellers, several top five best sellers and, at one point last spring, had 5 clients with books on the NYT list at the same time. While I haven’t tracked the Wall Street Journal list as closely, I’ve had quite a few hit that list as well.

I also have my hands in a few launches right now – some finishing up and some just getting prepped for later this year – and more and more I’ve become incredulous at the complete disaster that is the major best seller lists.

As I’ve prepped to write this article, I’ve had trouble organizing all of my thoughts, data, stories and sources into one cohesive narrative, so instead I’ve decided to list point-by-point in no particular order, the things that I’ve either personally witnessed or directly experienced with one of my clients or colleagues in the publishing industry.

My goal is to shed some light on what really goes on with the two top best seller lists – Wall Street Journal and New York Times – and give some information for authors that are hoping to hit it one day.

Here goes. Continue Reading →

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I received a private message from a writer whom I greatly admire (and consider a friend) who is concerned about my rallying cry for people to self-publish. I understand how that message shines brighter than my caveats and warnings, so I want to devote an entire blog post to something you’ll see in practically every one of my advice and how-to and rah-rah posts. These caveats are even there in that big report that everyone’s talking about. Here we go:

Self-publishing is not a gold rush.

Success at writing requires, in addition to long hours and hard work, a lot of luck.

Check out my advice to aspiring writers, there on the left hand side of the front page. Check every interview I’ve ever given and any blog post where I mention what authors should expect. I’ve beaten this drum louder and longer than any other drum, including my love of self-publishing. I say it all the time. You have to write because you love it. You can’t expect to make a living at this. Luck is involved. Most won’t make it.

Do I have to keep saying it? It’s right there in the survey. Anyone with an advanced degree should be able to find it. Continue Reading →

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It hit me in the summer of 2012. That’s when I realized print was on the way out and digital was here to stay. And it was major publishers who taught me this.

At the time, I was doing very well with Wool. It had hit the NYT list a couple times, had sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and the Ridley Scott film deal was in place. I live a simple life, so I had more money than I needed. It put me in a generous mood. To my agent’s dismay, I told her that I would give my print rights to a publisher for a song. As long as they only got the print rights.

No dice. Nobody wanted the print rights. But they would give me $1,500,000 for the print PLUS the digital.

So, Print = $0

Print + Digital = $1,500,000

As has been soundly demonstrated by industry veterans in recent days, I’m a college dropout and a dumb hick, but I could see some sort of truth in these offers I was getting. Digital was worth something. Print wasn’t worth much.

Holly Ward, who is very likely the #1 indie author in the world right now, concurs. She says:

Someone asked about paper only deals – NO ONE IS INTERESTED. I thought that was insane, but it’s not. It lines up with Hugh’s report. Paper is not where the money is at- ebooks are… I’m thinking there is a reason why the trad pubs are backing off of paper sales. It’s not arbitrary, despite their other actions I think they’re right about paper.

If Indies stopped chasing paper, if they stopped thinking that paper would be the difference, well, that would be major.”

There’s a great thread here about Holly turning down major deals from publishers and why. Fantastic read.

Today on AuthorEarnings.com, we posted some charts and thoughts on self-published authors giving up print sales. Turns out that traditionally published authors are giving up even more.

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5 o’clock in the morning. Been up for two hours, jetlagged like mad. Uploading SAND to Nook, B&N, and iTunes. While files are uploading, I’m firing off Tweets, making an update to AuthorEarnings.com, handling e-mail, and daydreaming about the next writing project.

How do you get a bunch of stuff done? You do a bunch of stuff. The last two weeks have been spent working on that earnings report, traveling to Taiwan and promoting two novels there, finalizing a children’s book deal, discussing film rights for SAND, and wrapping up this apocalyptic anthology, which releases in three weeks.

No social life helps. Being batshit crazy is practically a necessity. Now it’s back to iTunes to get this SAND pre-order page up. (Is it sick that I feel like I haven’t released a title in practically forever? I think it’s sick.)

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So, the reason my site just crashed is because of a little project I’ve been working on with a friend of mine. We broke street date a day early, as my co-founder and I cracked beers over Skype to celebrate the launch of AuthorEarnings.com and the publication of our first report, and down went all the pretty toys.

This project started a little less than two weeks ago, when a programmer emailed me to share some data he’d pulled from Amazon’s bestseller lists. It painted a picture of indie publishing even more optimistic than my rainbow-and-unicorn fantasies. He asked if I wanted to help him present the data. I told him I was underqualified, but I’d give it a go.

I’ve been working on this while on book tour in Taiwan, jetlagged all to hell, but several people gave wonderful suggestions, and my partner and I are extremely proud of the result. We approached some media outlets to run this, as it’s too big a deal for my blog, and we heard that it was too long for their site, that it wouldn’t interest their readers, and so on. Which was perfect, because my hope all along was to create a site dedicated to this data and this report. Which is what we did. We just didn’t rent a big enough server.

Should be coming back online as we speak. I’ll have more to say about the data as the storm settles. Peace.

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In twelve hours, I begin the 25-hour series of flights that will return me to my timezone. Taiwan, you will be missed. I’ve never felt so sad to leave a book tour stop. I feel like I’m supposed to stay here for a month or two and write a novel. I hope to be back soon.

At one of my book events, a member of the audience asked what the Taiwanese reader meant to me. My answer came without hesitation: For all the success I’ve had in so many markets, the readers of Taiwan made my book #1 in theirs. Now they are #1 to me. The warm reception and the many gifts will not be forgotten. Thank you.

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There’s this one scene in The Matrix that gives me goosebumps every time. It isn’t Neo learning Kung Fu from a compact flash chip. It isn’t the woman in the red dress or the rooftop chase. It’s not even the spectacular lobby scene, which has probably killed countless home theater speaker cones. No, it’s the very short scene where Switch (the woman in white) is about to be unplugged. Once she realizes this, the surety and the finality of it, she shakes her head and mutters: “Not like this. Not like this.”

Switch

I get weepy every time I see that scene. It’s not that she’s afraid to die, it’s that she  doesn’t want it to be in some chickenshit at-a-distance manner. She wants to go out fighting. She wants to see Fate take her. She wants to be present for her death, not logged in to some lie.

But that’s not what this blog post is about. I want talk about my second-favorite scene in The Matrix (and I knew you’d want to know what my first one was, so I went ahead and answered). Again, it’s not any of the aforementioned ones; it’s the scene where Agent Smith tells Morpheus that humans are a virus, a cancer. It’s when he wipes Morpheus’s sweaty head and complains of the stench of our race. That scene makes me angry. It twists my emotions up. It’s the scene that later allows the climax of the film to satisfyingly unknot those emotions. When Smith is blown to bits by Neo at the end, I pump my fists and yell because of what Smith said to Morpheus.

^^ **Retro-Active Spoiler Alert!** ^^

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