The Brave New Worlds of Hugh Howey and Wool
August 14, 2012 by Jane Jonas
Picture an earth beyond the apocalypse, a place where humanity has barely managed to survive. Toxic winds batter the landscape, while the remaining humans have burrowed into the subterranean, creating cities that extend deep into the earth, story after story. Simply going up or down the stairs can make for an epic journey. Within this enviroment, there is one unbreakable rule: Never Say You Want To Go Outside. If you do…. you’ll get what you ask for. This is the backstory of Wool (link leads to author’s page selling autographed copies of the book), penned by Hugh Howey.
Wool is not Howey’s first book, although it is his first bestseller. He has sold his books through the Kindle for several years using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform, which makes it easy for him to sell his e-books. Howey says that the reviews for the first Wool book began to pile up, with readers demanding more. He immediately dropped what he was working on and wrote the next four entries.
The resulting Omnibus (which is a collection of the first five Wool books) has stayed for quite some time in the Amazon top 100 and has been a #1 Bestseller in the Science Fiction category on Amazon. Most staggeringly, it was optioned by Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian for a potential feature film. The story of its success has been mentioned in Entertainment Weekly, Variety, and Deadline Hollywood. Howey has also been signed by Random House in the UK, and was a featured author on Apple’s iBooks. For the time being, he is working exclusively through Amazon due to a very good offer made by the bigwigs at Amazon, although he hopes to be on other platforms again soon.
Howey is the definition of a (successful) indie author. Indie authors do not sign with agents or publishing houses, and they generally self-publish their books. Hugh remarked upon some of the ins and outs of being part of this new genre of writer, “I’ve had to learn how to paginate my physical books, which means learning terms like kerning and leading, widows and orphans. I have to secure my own editing and proofreading. The onus is on me to do eight or nine revisions of every draft so the final work has the same polish readers have come to expect from other books. I had to build my own website, learn to make my own cover art, set up my own signings.”
However, going the solo route has its perks, the primary being ”the relationship with the fans. As I interact with readers, there’s a feeling of camaraderie, like we’re all in this together. They know that I don’t have a PR firm or publicist guiding my responses. I think they understand that my ability to write stems directly from their support, rather than from publishing advances. I don’t know if all writers feel this intimate with their readers, but I suspect being independent adds some kind of special epoxy to this bond.”
Howey says, “The Wool series is about a closed society on the edge of survival. It speaks to how fragile our existence is, how fragile our world can seem, and the struggle to put social systems in place that allow us to hold it all together. I think it really speaks to the hope many of us have that we can improve the human condition, but it also details the dangers this journey is fraught with.”
I read Wool Omnibus and enjoyed it very much. I agree with Howey’s assessment of his novel, and I am pleased to recommend it highly. I would say more about the book itself, but trying to describe it or highlight the plot will spoil it for you, believe me. Read it for yourself!
About The Author:
Jane Jonas is the CEO of Eyeth Studios, LLC (http://www.eyethstudios.com). Jane grew up in the Bay Area, and has always been somewhat obsessed with technology and literature. Her first efforts at entrepreneurship came in elementary school. At age seven, she used her Apple IIc to write up newsletters with stories and jokes, and then peddled them to the neighbors. That early drive for independence and creativity has never faded. Throughout her career, she has been involved with establishing underground newsletters with groundbreaking journalism stories, interviewing, filming and editing videos, designing and producing websites, and administrating employees. This diverse background led to the formation of Eyeth Studios in 2006. In her spare time, Jane enjoys mothering her two rhodesian ridgebacks, cooking gourmet messes, and reading as much as possible. Her personal website and CV may be found at janejonas.com.