It should go without saying that I never expected even a tiny fraction of the readership I’ve been blessed with. I always assumed it would be my wife, my mom, and my sister reading my books. For a long while, it was like pulling teeth to get close friends and family to read my stories. The general assumption, I suppose, was that my books must suck because they weren’t in bookstores. There’s such a mystique around authors and books (they can’t be normal people!), and this made it difficult to convince anyone to take my work seriously.
I’ll never forget the day I told my former coworkers at Audio Video Headquarters that I was going to write a novel. They laughed. A few months later, I gave my old boss a copy of the first Molly Fyde book. I don’t think he’s read it yet. The guy I worked beside at my old bookstore, who watched me disappear into the conference room every lunch break to work on WOOL still hasn’t read anything of mine. Both are voracious readers and great friends. It just goes to show what a pariah a newly minted author can be.
Not long ago, it occurred to me that complete strangers were reading my books. I have to tell you, this will make a man’s insides turn to water. It’s scary enough having my wife read my scribbles, but a bunch of people I don’t know? Terrifying. And surreal.
Not planning on this sort of success has led to a few regrets. I wish I’d named and numbered the books in a more sensible manner. It’s hard for readers to know what to read next. I tell myself that this is part of the allure of the series; you have to do some digging and investigating; but that’s just me rationalizing. Another regret is that I didn’t account for the popularity of the print books! I had no idea they’d be this popular or that offering signed copies from my website would keep me this busy. First editions of the WOOL OMNIBUS have sold on eBay for $250, $350, and $550. That’s the one with the ugly yellow cover. I get emails all the time asking where people can get these. I should have printed a few for myself before I changed the artwork!
Which brings me to today’s announcement. The order pages for THIRD SHIFT and the SHIFT OMNIBUS are both up (check the left hand side of the front page). I’m going to be traveling quite a bit over the next few months, so the only batch I’ll be getting out between now and the end of April will probably be the orders placed this week. I’ll get to later orders when I can. I should have these books in 10 business days, and then they’ll go out to you before I leave for the UK.
There’s a chance these books have to be taken down the way WOOL was, so don’t be surprised if they’re only available for a little while. That’s not to entice you to buy copies, of course. Just a fair warning. It isn’t like I pay the bills with these physical sales (I price them as cheaply as I can), so making them available is a service more than anything else. I sell the signed copies for list price plus less in shipping than the envelope and postage cost. I’m more than happy to devote some time in getting these books out to you all. I think it’s pretty cool (if strange) that complete strangers are reading my drivel. Maybe some of my friends and colleagues will eventually give the works a chance! :D
44 replies to “Book-Books”
Well, your are a great writer… what do you expect? Also, update WP already…
Also, along with the link being strange, you need to change the tool tip from Shift 2 to Shift Omnibus
What does that mean? :)
Funny man is funny XP
Right now, the Shift Omnibus link isn’t working.
https://hughhowey.com/shift-omnibus/ < the link till he fixes it…
I ordered the Omnibus for myself and Third Shift for my dad (I got him First and Second for Christmas).
Your friends and colleagues have no idea what they’re missing out on :-)
Done and Done. Thanks for offering these signed prints for us, Hugh. I know it’s a lot of work for you and you are much busier than you used to be. A lesser author would just have them autopenned or charge exorbitant fees for it. It is very much appreciated by those of us especially that have been reading from the early days…you know, last year.
I think the links are fixed now.
I know EXACTLY what you mean. When I decided to write music and record a few covers a couple of years ago, over 40,000 Myspace users had listened to and loved the songs before any of my relatives gave it a chance. Once I had a Facebook fanpage and several thousand ‘Likes,’ most of my close friends ignored it all together. All of that, and it’s alternative, not death metal or something, ha. Anyway, I guess they’ll have to come around for ya eventually, when they see a move trailer for Hugh Howey’s Wool, woot!
My husband was not fond of reading fiction. He said he was too slow a reader (learning disabilities and a terrible 2nd grade teacher really ruined his outlook on reading), and it took too much effort. He’d rather put that time and energy toward non-fiction.
A couple of years ago, he happened to pick up The Mote in God’s Eye one day, and that did it. He went on to get other Niven and Pournelle books. He moved on to the Mars trilogy (Kim Stanley Robinson). While he was reading that trilogy, I started reading Wool and wouldn’t stop jibber-jabbering about it. We picked up a Nook for him. He devoured the Omnibus.
While he loves the e-reader, he bemoans the lack of a physical trophy on the bookshelf- he still reads slowly (I tell him he just reads more *carefully* than I do, which is true), and each finished book is an accomplishment he’s proud of.
So, for our anniversary last year, I ordered a signed copy of the Omnibus for him. When I gave it to him, still in its envelope, I told him he now has a trophy of a well-loved novel for our bookshelf, signed by an author we admire. It brought tears to his eyes, and it really is a treasure.
While I expect your success will outpace your ability to deliver printed, signed copies on demand to your hungry and ever-clamoring fans (and am surprised you can still do this), I must tell you how special it is that you offer this. And how appreciative we are for all the great things you do for your fans.
And, thank you for PACT. It was such a wonderful read. As with all other Wool books, it affected my dreams, and made me worry about people who don’t even exist. I love that.
Great story, thanks for sharing.
Hi Hugh – I missed the bus with the Wool Omnibus signed copies. I’m not partial to which cover, but will you be offering them again? I just ordered the Shift Omnibus along with my Kindle copy, and would love to have a set. Thanks for releasing #8!!
Gee, that post by Michelle brought tears to my eyes… well,.. almost.
Regarding your acquaintances not yet reading your stuff; I’ve noticed that many people are kinda stuck in opinions of others, and don’t want to disrupt their perception with the reality that, yes, some of the people they know actually are able to live their dreams. Read into that what you want. It may be envy or, worse, jealousy,.. but it seems common. That’s human.
My order for the Omnibus is on the way.
Just picked up the Shift Omnibus, thanks to this post! Question – is it still possible to get a copy of the Wool Omnibus signed, or should I get a copy and find you at a convention sometime?
When you say you are heading to the UK, are these book signings / meet ups? Are there any specific dates yet?
Hugh, I can’t get through PayPal’s cookie and tracking scripts here so…
I sent a email from my business address.
I’d really love to meet you and get a signed hard copy after March. Do you know if Boston is on the list?
When will the Third Shift ebook be available outside the US? I haven’t read the second one yet – I was waiting for it to be finished.
Can’t wait to see it appear on amazon UK
It might be March for the Shift books outside the US.
That’s a shame. Luckily it was easy enough to switch to an amazon.com account temporarily and buy it from there.
This post was great! You ARE an awesome writer and it makes me think of how easy it can be to get a book out there, whether it be good or not. I have contacted you before, but I don’t expect you to remember… I am a Junior in High School and published my book about a month ago. So far more and more people are wanting to read my book and those who have already were surprised that I could write something as good as it. Evidently, I don’t claim to be a good writer nor bad one, but I enjoy it when people begin talking about my book to me and others around school. To me, the books I write or just pieces of pie that I have to finish in a pie eating contest. It is neither for fame or money…I just enjoy writing. In all, I enjoyed reading your post and it reminded me of my start in a writing career. Thank you.
Your first two paragraphs sound like my life right now. :-D
Thanks for offering signed print books. I collect 1st printing books and yours are among my most prized possessions. I placed my order!! Guaranteed collector’s items.
It’s actually a scientifically proven fact that, if you have a friend or acquaintance who is constantly asking for favours and annoying you, the fastest way to get rid of them is to tell them that you’ve written a novel and would really appreciate their feedback :)
That’s not true, but that’s funny. Then again, maybe it is true and it’s not funny.
I have just finished read Wool and felt compelled to say how brilliant I thought it was. The opening sequence resulting in the Sheriff’s cleaning was absolutely stunning.
Can I ask where you will be visiting when you come to the Uk as I would love to hear you speak and to get you to sign this wonderful book!
London and Wales thus far. Don’t have my schedule yet. I’ll post it here when I do.
Please come to Liverpool or Manchester!
I just ordered a signed copy… Thanks Hugh!
…and I received my UK copy of Wool last week. The cover is beautiful. I will never-ever give up my Kindle, but hard copy is great for “Show N Tell”.
Third Shift is not showing on the Amazon.co.uk website, any ideas on when a UK resident will be able to download it on Kindle?
If not I may have to get one of these signed copies ;-)
It might be a while. Random House is releasing the full set in March. Probably won’t be that long for the e-book, but it’ll be weeks.
Go to amazon.co.uk, under ‘Manage your Kindle’ Choose ‘country settings’
Invent a US address, you only need a valid zip code which you can google..
Then you can buy it and switch back to your UK address.. I tried it this morning, and I’m 50% through already :)
Thank you, Mark! This worked a treat. I don’t think I could have waited weeks.
Now it’s time to make a cup of tea and start Third Shift…
ordered third shift! can’t wait! Go Hugh go! I wrote my first novel (it’s never been accepted for publication) back in 1998. I still haven’t gotten any of my friends to read any of my now long-list of 30+ novels. Even when I gave them signed dedicated books as gifts. Ah well – nature of the beast.
Yup. Nature of the beast. Just keep writing, Louise! :)
Wait… are you telling me Molly Fyde Land of Light > Second Shift > Wool Omnibus > Molly Fyde Parsona Rescue > First Shift > Third Shift is not the preferred reading order? That would explain my confusion about Walter.
“I’ll never forget the day I told my former coworkers at Audio Video Headquarters that I was going to write a novel. They laughed. ”
Forgive me for leaping on a single point, but this is so weird, and something I’ve been researching lately. I’ve just written my first couple of short stories and uploaded them to Amazon KDP. Getting feedback from random people is awesome, especially if it is positive, and luckily it has been mostly.
BUT…for some reason, some, admittedly not many but a noticeable amount of my friends and family hate the idea of me writing. They mock me covertly. They say things like “Ohhh let’s see the famous author!” and other very subtle put-downs and passive aggressive crap. They make me feel awkward and ashamed for writing as if I’m doing it for attention or something other than what it is – I want to write. I want a creative outlet.
I have been thinking hard as to why this might be. One of the comments I keep hearing it is very telling. “As I read your story I kept thinking you spend too much time on your computer…but well done for actually doing it…” I’ve heard this a few times, and when I analyse it, I realise that people put other people in boxes. My box is a computer (I build websites for a living).
When you break out of that box, in their minds, it displaces them in the big social pecking order. Everyone thinks they can write (technically, most people can), and it seems everyone thinks they will write a book one day. There is nothing stopping them, and I hope they do. I feel they know it won’t happen deep down inside so they don’t like it when someone proudly proclaims “I’m going to write a book”. some how, it offends a minority of people that know me as the “computer guy”. These friends of mine are more talented than I and would surely write a far superior tale if only they had the time…and a plethora of other excuses.
Maybe I’m wrong with all this, I don’t know. what I do know is I am going to use my writing to further analyse and explore these ideas and thoughts. Little do they know, these negative criticisers, that they are actually helping me, not hindering.
Knowing that you, Hugh, have made a success of writing from your humble beginnings is an inspiration to others. Thank you!
I got quite a bit of this from people. Especially people I worked with at my bookstore. And even some of my best friends. And I agree: it can be a powerful motivator to see things through. :)
I guess with your bookstore job they had you nicely figured out as the friendly, low paid book guy, but not the author. It seems some people don’t like others to achieve outside of their perceived boundaries. (My theory is this is because we measure ourselves relative to others).
Would you mind telling me when it stopped? Was it about the time your name started to get about and sales really took off? Sorry if this question seems lame but it is something that fascinates me at the moment.
I still get funny looks from strangers. People ask me what I do. I’m a bit shy about saying that I’m a writer. “What do you write?” they ask. “Novels,” I say. They look skeptical. “Got any of them published?” “Oh, yes,” I say. “All of them. I just publish them myself.” They nod as if that makes perfect sense.
Just finished Wool … great read, truly enjoyed the story, loved and believed the entire world you created. Came here immy to find more of your work. Keep it up. I see great things for and from you.