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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The Shell Collector Ebook Cover For Nook copy

The Shell Collector

He ruined her world. Now she's out to destroy his.

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Another question I get a lot is how to edit our existing ebooks in order to correct small mistakes. (Another reason you might want to download an already-published ebook is to update the back matter with links to new releases.)

While I enjoy paginating my own print editions, I prefer to have someone else create my ebooks. There are little things that can go wrong with ebook creation that causes issues for readers on older devices. I swear by the folks at Polgarus Studio. You get perfect .epub and .mobi files without paying an arm and a leg.

But sometimes you just need to make a small fix to an existing file. For this tutorial, I started with an email from Amazon notifying me of errors in one of my ebooks. I then show you how to download that ebook file, convert it to an .epub with Calibre (download here), and then edit it with Sigil (download here).

Both programs are free. Donate to the developers if you can!

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I’ve had a few requests for details about how I paginate my print books, so here goes. Below you’ll find a 50-minute video of me walking through my pagination routine. It’s not quite everything, but I show 95% of what’s involved for a few sample chapters. From there, it’s just a matter of repeating the steps throughout the book. Once you do a few of these, it comes very naturally. You’ll also find that the process speeds up with practice.

First, download the CS 6 templates (I use the 5×8 template in the video, but you can use either one):

The 5 x 8 Template for CreateSpace

The 6 x 9 Template for CreateSpace

For older versions of InDesign, use these IDML Templates:

The 5 x 8 Template for CreateSpace

The 6 x 9 Template for CreateSpace

To watch the video, you might want to make it bigger by expanding it or going to YouTube:

My favorite place to upload the finished PDF is CreateSpace. Check them out here. The service is completely free to use. You can even “proof” your work online without having to order a copy, though I highly recommend ordering a physical proof and going through every page one more time. A proof copy will cost you around $7, shipped, for a standard 300-page book.

I hope this is useful. If so, let me know. And if you want to make improvements to the template files and share them with others, feel free.

Also, if you want to see the results in person, you can snag a paperback copy of The Shell Collector right here. You’ll notice that I use the cream interior and the matte cover options, which I think look a lot more professional than white page interiors or glossy covers.

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 UPDATE: The print edition just went up for preorder! 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00023]

Two weeks from release, and I just got the proof copies of the print edition in my grubby little paws. This might be the prettiest book I’ve ever assembled. The M.S. Corley cover is gorgeous, and I put a lot of time and care into the interior design. The book just looks amazing. No need to read it, you can just display it around your home!

The ebook is up for pre-order at several outlets already:

The Shell Collector on Amazon.com
The Shell Collector on iBooks
The Shell Collector on Kobo.com

I’ll put a Nook link up here as soon as the work is available there. It’s a measly $4.99 at all outlets. Fancy coffees cost more. The print edition (which is now up for pre-order) is $15.00.

So what’s the book about? It takes place in a very near future where sea levels have risen and the oceans have grown warmer. Mass extinctions have left seashells incredibly rare and extremely valuable. Hunting them down is the newest Dutch Tulip Craze.

As an avid collector and contributor for the Times, Maya Walsh frequently writes about shelling and the state of the seas. She is working on a four-part expose on Ness Wilde, the world’s foremost shell collector, and an oil company CEO. Maya blames people like Ness for what’s become of our world, and she has watched him profit mightily from the warmed and rising seas. As far as she’s concerned, Ness Wilde helped destroy her world. Now she’s out to wreck his.

The Shell Collector a mix of post-apocalyptic, suspense, romance, and environmental fiction. Mary Alice Monroe, the bestselling author of  The Summer’s End had this to say:

Green fiction at its finest! With science, romance and mystery, The Shell Collector will appeal to both men and women. I’ve been waiting for a hard hitting novel about the state of our oceans–and this is it!

I hope you all enjoy! And now for that unboxing:

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Often, when you aren’t happy with what you’re writing, it’s because you’re writing about your character from a distance. You’re seeing your scene as a bird might. Swoop down. Sit right behind the eyes of your protagonist. Is she sitting in a field? What does the sun feel like on her skin? Is he walking down a city street? Does the grass grow up through cracks in the sidewalk?

Another thing to remember is that your character is not your plot. They aren’t a vehicle for driving the reader through your story. They have their own history; their heart has been broken; they lie in bed at night and dream of being something else. They have siblings and cousins they’ve played games with, games only they know the rules to. They are scared. Confused. Confident. On the verge of being in love. There was that one time they danced in public, and they didn’t care how goofy they looked.

The only way to convince your readers that this world is real, that these characters are real, is to believe it first yourself. To do that, you need to zoom in. See the world as your characters do. Describe it through all 8 or 10 of their senses.* Know them as well as you know a dear friend. And then write to do them justice. Continue Reading →

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How cute are these guys? A Boston startup invented them. Supposedly, Amazon has adapted several of their distribution centers to use these puppies. Pretty soon, the complaints will go from working conditions at warehouses to lack of jobs at warehouses.

Another video and more over at The Passive Voice.

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The annual DBW Writers’ Survey is up!

Please consider participating and sharing. The more respondents, the more meaningful the results.

Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how those results are analyzed. In the past, the outcome of publishing paths has been the main focus of this survey, which does not help authors make decisions with their manuscripts. There is an implied assumption in those past results that authors can simply choose whether to traditionally publish or self-publish. And so aspiring authors who have not yet managed to get traditionally published do not have their $0 income factored in, while all self-published authors are counted.

Compounding the problem, hybrid authors (those who have published both ways) have been treated as a special case in the past. This is odd considering that the vast majority of hybrids have either been picked up because of success with self-publishing, or found success self-publishing a backlist that did poorly enough with a traditional publisher for the rights to revert. In both cases, it was the decision to self-publish that was heavily rewarded.

These issues can be handled in the analysis. One way would be to compare hybrids with those who have been traditionally published, as both groups represent the top fraction of two different freely made decisions: the decision to either query an agent/publisher or to self-publish. These two groups also have in common the ability to draw the interest of a publishing house, whether out of a slush pile or out of the pool of self-published titles. Continue Reading →

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There are people to both sides of you. Everyone is in the middle. We’re all part of a continuum.

This is the theme of the book I’m working on right now, a sequel to SAND. The idea is that while we are all looking in one direction —  whether with envy or judgement or longing or disgust — there is someone on the other side of us looking our way with the exact same emotion and with just as much cause.

I played with this theme in HALF WAY HOME, where I pointed out that today’s moral progress will seem slow and obvious to future generations, and at the same time some “modern” behavior of ours will one day appear barbaric. It might be the eating of meat. It could be allowing people to drive cars well past the day the technology existed to revamp our fleets and save hundreds of thousands of lives.

A glance at history suggests that it will be many things. All generations crow about how much better, more inclusive, more enlightened they are than previous generations, and then some facet of their culture seems outlandish just a generation or two hence. Slave-owning American Founders who preached equality and freedom come to mind. The institutional racism and sexism of “The Greatest Generation” does as well. Continue Reading →

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She’s here! She’s almost here!

Misty copy

Sometime tomorrow, swirling winds and UPS drivers will blow MISTY onto a front porch near you. Tuesday is release day, and I haven’t been this excited since my very first novel came out. A picture book is just a completely different animal. For me, it meant collaborating with an artist who has skills I’ll never possess. It meant being creative together. And it means coming up with a story that is as much visual as textual. Plus, this is a story for an audience I’ve never been able to reach before.

All-in-all, a completely different experience. One I’ve learned a lot from.

Before I get into how it came together, I should mention that there are a limited number of the signed hardbacks still available. These will be gone soon, so if you want one, now is the time. These are signed by me, and they are reasonably priced. Amazon has them discounted to $13.49 as of this writing.

With both the purchase of the hardback and the paperback, you can download the ebook for free. The paperback is only $6.99. Fancy coffees cost more than this. The ebook for your tablet or computer is just $3.99. I promise you, we priced these as cheaply as humanly possible. Why? We want as many people as possible to meet Misty. I think you’re going to really like her.

Continue Reading →

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We need a German word for “thinking you had an original idea and then realizing many other people not only already had that idea but are well on their way toward implementation.” I hope someone can get on this. I bet someone already has.

A while back, I blogged about the possibility that one day my job will be taken over by machines. I think it’s important for all of us to consider this possibility, whatever it is that we do, and however outlandish the idea seems by current technology standards. How else will we see it coming? There’s a reason no one does. They all think their status is wholly unique until about three weeks after it isn’t.

Will machines ever write novels? That is, will novels ever write themselves? I believe if humans can stick around for another thousand years, it is inevitable. I’m also open to the chance (though skeptical) that some unforeseen advance in computing power or technology makes this possible in fifty years. Perhaps an actual quantum computer is constructed. Maybe in 50 years, a program like Watson gets more refined and has access to enough data and processing power that an emergent quality arises from what previously seemed wholly mechanical. That is, consciousness might flip on like a switch. Continue Reading →

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I think we can now confirm that the reason for the delays for Hachette titles was that Amazon wasn’t stocking the books in their warehouses. It has been said over and over again that the delays during this dispute were due to Hachette’s inefficiencies, which I saw firsthand as a bookseller. Direct orders placed with a major publisher took 2-3 weeks to arrive. I can’t remember them ever arriving as fast as in a week.

I’ve seen two news outlets express confusion over why some of Hachette’s titles still show a delay of 2-3 weeks. Well, it’s because Amazon just created those orders yesterday when the deal was reached. It’ll now take 2-3 weeks to get those books to Amazon’s distribution center. Only then will the efficiencies of those distribution centers allow 1-2 day delivery. (Hachette might choose to “rush” these orders, which costs bookstores a pretty penny and probably involves unpleasant warehouse conditions.)

The way this has been portrayed in the anti-Amazon media and by Hachette authors made it sound like Amazon set Hachette books aside and said “Don’t ship those for another week!” and then rubbed their hands together and cackled. Which is ludicrous. The truth is far more banal and speaks more to publishers’ weak infrastructure and customer service, something they should work on if they don’t want to be beholden to retailers like Amazon. Continue Reading →

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Finally. Hachette has put an end to their nightmare of a standoff and has agreed to terms with Amazon. This is great news for book buyers and Hachette authors and the industry in general. It comes right on the heels of Simon & Schuster signing a multi-year deal with Amazon for both print and ebooks, and the wording of that announcement was practically identical to the wording of the Hachette announcement today. What does that tell us?

It suggests to me that Amazon offered Hachette and Simon & Schuster the same deal. But what took Hachette most of 2014 to agree to took S&S a single offer / counteroffer. It must be said, though, that Hachette was at a serious disadvantage by being forced to negotiate first. The settlement with the Department of Justice forced the major publishers to negotiate with Amazon in 6-month windows. This was to prevent them from colluding with one another the way they did in 2009.

I don’t know how the order was picked, but Hachette drew the short straw. This meant two things: They had to negotiate with Amazon without knowing if their fellow publishers would fall in line and help pressure the retailer as they did in 2009, and it also meant that Hachette had six months less sales data to go on to judge the fairness of what Amazon was offering.

A year ago, jacking up ebook prices to protect print seemed like standard operating procedure. Over the course of this year, publishers have watched operating margins go up due to the rise in ebook sales, and many titles have moved a lot of units by employing sane pricing. In a way, Amazon was offering a deal based on what they saw coming, while Hachette was rejecting that deal based on what they saw in their rearview mirror. Simon & Schuster had six months extra of road to study. I hope this helps portray Hachette in a less harsh light. Again, they had a lot of disadvantages.  Continue Reading →

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Why wait for the WOOL film to get made when you can go live it?

Only costs $1.5 million dollars for a ticket. Comes with wallscreens (seriously), farms, and pumps to keep it all dry. Check out the WSJ article for more details.

I’m thinking every bedside table in this joint needs a free copy of WOOL.

Also: It’s obvious to me that Jules is the sheriff of this puppy. Check out where she moved Mechanical. :)

Silo Layout

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