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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Harper Collins is employing a new watermarking DRM scheme, so they can tell where their pirated e-books are being sourced from. There are so many levels of dumb and brilliant here that it’s impossible to make a judgement, not without knowing the motivations of those involved.

If the idea is to actually stop piracy, the program is dumb as a bag of rocks with chains wrapped around it held fast by a bevy of padlocks. This won’t stop piracy. And it isn’t like piracy is even a concern. The music industry learned this (mostly and eventually). It takes a few clicks to stirp an ebook of its DRM. It’ll probably take an extra click or two to get rid of the watermark. Really, the only way to make a tamper-proof watermark would be to alter the formatting or content slightly for every outlet you upload to.

So how could this program be brilliant? Well, if it’s a scheme by the DRM manufacturer to make millions of dollars by selling snake oil to fearful publishers, it’s ingenious. I would think the engineers behind this are savvy enough to know it won’t stop the piracy, and they are probably savvy enough to know that piracy has almost no effect on ebook sales (in fact, our July AE report suggests that removing DRM might increase ebook sales. Studies in the music industry have shown the same effect And in traditional publishing, Tor has seen no detriment to going DRM-free). Continue Reading →

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I gave a talk at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory last week, and one of the questions that came up during the Q&A was whether I’m a pessimist or an optimist. The second part of the question was if I thought the world I depict in WOOL has any chance of coming to fruition.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard a variant of this question. Often it’s as blunt as: “Why do you write such depressing stories? You seem like such a happy guy!”

I believe there’s a fine balance between begging for a better future and also being thankful for the progress of the past. If you ask me, the world is getting measurably better for the vast majority of people year after year. I think Steven Pinker’s work on this topic covers it best, especially his excellent Better Angels of our Nature. What’s important, in my view, is to pause in our protestations now and then and give homage to the progress others have made, to recognize the change happening around us before we dust ourselves off and demand one more concession.

This is true of social, ethical, and political progress. But it applies to less important things as well, like book publishing. Continue Reading →

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David Streitfeld of the New York Times has now cemented himself as the blabbering mouthpiece for the New York publishing cartel, and while he is making a fool of himself for those in the know, he is a dangerous man for the impression he makes on his unsuspecting readers.

(I should point out here that I’m a 7-day-a-week home delivery subscriber to the New York Times. I start every day by reading the physical paper. I love it. But they do make occasional hiring mistakes.)

A dishonest man with access to a pulpit is like a poisoner with access to a well. David Streitfeld is a dishonest man. He is a reporter with an agenda. A good case in point is this head-scratcher: Just one summer ago, David made reference to Orwell’s well-known disdain for cheap paperbacks to draw a comparison to Amazon’s fight for lower ebook prices. A year later, the same David Streitfeld claimed that Orwell was a fan of cheap paperbacks. What changed? Continue Reading →

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You know you’ve had a rough time when flatlining is a sign of good health. That’s the news from B&N as same-store sales decreased a mere 0.4% when investors were expecting a 2% decline. Shares rose on the news. The loss of only $30 million this quarter was mostly made possible by slashing the investment in Nook, which B&N plans to divest itself of by next year. The latest Nook tablet is a modified Samsung device, in fact, as B&N has veered from heavily investing in ebooks, swearing them off, heavily investing again, and most recently . . . swearing them off.

I worked in a B&N while in college, and have spent many an hour in their stores as a customer. I’ve also watched them closely as a publisher, hoping they would help grow reading and the adoption of ebooks. In my view, they haven’t done much right in over a decade. Let’s set aside for the moment the fact that B&N used to be the bad boy who knocked the indie bookstores out of business (or the fact that indie bookstores have been on an amazing comeback over the past six or seven years). What could B&N do better? How can they turn this around without becoming a gift shop that has a few racks of books in yonder corner?

The first thing I’d do is bring back the comfy armchairs. Remember those? A big part of my job at B&N was gathering the piles of books left around the armchairs and reshelving them (this task fell just ahead of collecting the subscription insert confetti around the periodicals). Continue Reading →

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Book 2 of the APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH went live today! I daresay, it’s even better than the amazing first book in this trilogy. We’ve got an all-star cast of authors involved, and now the stakes are higher as the apocalypse is in full-effect.

Feel free to read the sample on Amazon to check out the first story for free. And wait until you read the last story, which is one of my favorites. Also, the second part of my 3-part story in the WOOL universe is in here. You won’t believe where this one is leading. It’s the mother of all curveballs.

Also, we lowered the price of Part 1 to $4.99. Over 20 stories from some of the best writers in the game. A crazy deal. Hours and hours of gripping reads in bite-sized chunks.


Howey_TRIPTYCH_Book2_EbookEdition (Copy)

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**UPDATE (At the end of this post)**

It’s been a huge honor and thrill to be a part of a competition sponsored by Booktrack.com. The finalists were announced today, and I’d like to congratulate them and everyone who submitted a piece of fan fiction or an audio Booktrack. I’ve had a blast going through and reading your stories and listening to the atmospheric treatment you’ve provided for Half Way Home.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Booktrack, you should be. Augmented e-books have been slow to catch on, but that’s because few companies have nailed the balance of adding to the reading experience without distracting from it. Booktracks work best when they provide mood, just like a heavy rain or the sound of the nearby sea can make reading a book even more enjoyable. When the sound effects and music are done right, you’ll read a story like never before. For creators, the interface is a joy. You have to play around on the website to appreciate how slick it all is.

This competition also cemented my love of fan fiction. Reading through stories based on my world of Half Way Home, the special power of fan fiction hit me: You get the quick romp and tightness of a short story but with the deep texture of epic fiction. Since the world and its rules are already established—as are the relationships between characters—fan fiction can jump right to the middle of the action, orbit a climactic event, but with all the complexity of a larger story. For readers familiar with the world, it’s a chance to reunite with old friends and see them through another adventure. If you enjoyed Half Way Home, you simply must read the stories from these five finalists. In no particular order: Continue Reading →

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UPDATE: The Juke Joint is open today, so ignore their website. Opens at noon. See you there!

Heading to Atlanta tomorrow for my first-ever Dragon*Con. Anyone else going? Any Atlanta natives out there?

A few readers have emailed about a possible Meet-Up, so it’s now officially on. The Meet-Up will be Saturday at noon. The venue is Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint: 200 Peachtree Street, Suite #L05 Atlanta, Georgia (404) 230-5853.

We have a table reserved for 30. Chime in below if you are for sure coming. If we need to get more room we will.

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If you feel paralyzed while working on a rough draft, think of your work like a maze. Sometimes you have to write down a dead end to discover that this is NOT where the story needs to go. Writing and deleting is better than not writing at all.

Imagine tracing your finger down a maze and coming to the first forking path. If you can glance ahead and see it’s a dead end, no problem. But sometimes the dead end is too long or there are too many branches ahead to know which way to go.

The important thing is to choose and keep moving. Find out what works and doesn’t. You can always go back. What you can never do is finish a maze if you stop at a decision point and wait for the entire solution to come to you.

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Okay, this would be a very long list if I didn’t give it some focus. For instance, I want to know stuff as banal as why in the movie LOOPER they didn’t just send those people back in time about a mile up above those corn fields. Be simpler and scarier. But I’m going to stick with stuff I would love to know from Amazon, since they are sitting on a pile of data that would help me reach more readers. Many of these things go for all my digital distributors, but I’m going to focus on Amazon because some of them are Kindle Worlds and Createspace related.

1) I would love to know how many readers borrow a book and then go on to buy a copy of the same book. I’ve done this before, and I tend to doubt my uniqueness. For Prime members especially, who only get one borrow a month, do they ever love an ebook so much that they decide to own a copy for good?

The reason I ask is because authors tend to view a borrow as a lost sale. If you could show me how many duplicate transactions there were like this, it would be super useful in understanding reading and purchasing habits.

2) I would love to know how far into my books readers get. Do they finish the work? Do most who drop out do so around the same chapter? What about from those who return the ebook? When I return a physical product to Amazon, I am asked to select a reason. Does that information get passed along to the supplier? If so, do the same for us. If you hate sharing even anonymous data without permission, allow the reader to adjust a slider when they leave a review to show how much they read. If they don’t adjust it, we see nothing and they share nothing. I think readers who complete works would love to participate in this. Continue Reading →

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It’s day two of the Sao Paulo Book Fair here in Brazil. This is everything book festivals should be in the US. It runs until 10pm at night, so people can come after work (and so cocktail parties can break out in the convention hall). Kids are brought in by the busload and run around with book highs. It’s a consumer-oriented show, but plenty of business is conducted amid the throngs. Just a ton of literary excitement. For those bemoaning the slide of BEA toward a more reader-centric show, I say go get a boardroom. This rocks.

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