I am hoping that Hugh Howey sells millions of copies of his book Wool. In fact, millions may not be enough. I’d like to see him get into the Harry Potter-sphere of selling books. I say all this having only read three chapters of the book. I can happily report that so far he demonstrates a lot of talent, and I’m enjoying the story. But, that’s not why I want him to succeed. I want him to succeed because it will be good for me. It will be good for every indie author out there.
Howey first self-published Wool as a short story on Kindle in 2011. Very quickly his fan base grew, and people started demanding more. He complied and turned the short story into a full length post-apocalyptic novel. In two years, he’s made foreign rights deals, sold the film rights, and signed an unprecedented publishing partnership with Simon & Schuster.
Other indie authors have come close to this type of success, but unlike the others, Howey has chosen to merge the world of the indie author with that of the traditional publishing industry. He will hold onto his digital rights, both foreign and domestic, and Simon & Schuster will share in the domestic print rights. In other words, he’s changed the way a traditional publisher does business, and they did it to accommodate a self-published author with an established brand.
I may be rooting for this particular book because like my Oz Chronicles it is a post-apocalyptic story, but there is more to it, as well. Unlike those other authors who have gotten huge deals, Howey’s appeal appears to be centered on his writing talent. Without naming those other titles that have reached pop culture status, I can comfortably say they were poorly written. Fans of those books have even told me the writing was abhorrent. When pressed on why they enjoyed the books, they didn’t really know why. They just did. These books seemed to become popular because someone decided they should be popular. Still, their success was important to me, too. It’s just that I’m of the mind that eventually someone will notice that the emperor is naked, and time will not be kind to these books. Howey fans, on the other hand, readily say they enjoy Wool because the writing is exceptional. In fact, they may get angry if anyone would suggest otherwise. Good writing is a formula for lasting success, and that is truly the kind of success we indie authors should be supporting.
I’d be lying if I denied being just a wee-bit jealous of Howey’s success. He went from my ranks to Stephen King’s contemporary in two years (contract-wise). My lead balloon rise is now eight years in the making. Not only have I been turned down by dozens of publishers via my agent, I believe I’ve been turned down by Simon & Schuster three times (It all becomes a blur of ego-stomping rejection at some point, so it may have been another publisher of equal status). It seems every time a new editor spots my manuscript in a trashcan they give us a call. It’s exciting every time we get a request for information and feedback, and it sucks even more when they pass. I feel worse for my agent than me. The poor guy has never made a dime off of me, yet he’s still hanging in there.
But, my sad story is exactly why I need Hugh Howey to succeed in a big, big way. If he does well enough, the next time Simon & Schuster calls they may do so with a greater willingness to take a chance on the Oz Chronicles. And if not Simon & Schuster, one of the other publishing houses may rethink their risk assessment and take a chance on Oz.
So, for the most selfish of reasons, I’m asking you to support Hugh Howey. Buy Wool. Read it. Spread the word. You’re more than welcome to throw in a word or two about the Oz Chronicles as well. After all, my agent needs to eat.