Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

Facebook Chat

Random House UK put on a Facebook Chat today, and the questions were awesome. The answers a little less so. Here’s a link to the entire chat, but I thought I’d toss in a couple questions and answers here for the curious. I picked one with writers in mind and one with readers in mind. The latter contains spoilers, so don’t go past the break if you haven’t read the entire series!

FB Chat

FB Chat 2

22 replies to “Facebook Chat”

Funny how your self-publishing advice so often differs from all the websites written by the those-who-can’t-do-teach crowd. For instance: The conventional wisdom is to start promoting your book three years in advance and don’t quit until you are everywhere in social media. Also, never genre jump or you are simply diluting your brand. You regularly preach violating both of these rules.

To be fair, you do a phenomenal amount of reader engagement–actually more than you recommend others do– but you really seem to enjoy it.

Well, how do you engage readers before you have them? The readers came first. What people call my “promotional stuff” came after. I don’t think any of this drives sales. It just rewards those who already bought something.

That’s how I see it, anyway.

“Discover your own truths.” <—- Yes! Great advice. Listen, take what you can from others who have learned, but mostly listen to your own experience and your own instincts. Wonderful chat, Hugh!

it’s been a really really long time since i’ve read something that haunts me like wool does. there’s this heartbroken feeling that it’s over. there’s still so much to the story left to be told! i hear that you’re done with it, but my heart and mind don’t want that to be true :)

Metarule: If you can be flexible, try all kinds of things to see what you like to do and what you can finish. Rules? Try ’em all – buy the ones you can use.

But if, for any reason, you are, like Tolkien or Margaret Mitchell, only able to walk forward along the narrow ridge high in the mountains that follows one story for years until it is done – then you already know your path. And hope to heck someone brings you supplies.

Being rigid is not a sin. Sometimes it just is.

Alicia

What a great relief to see your comment about not expending all your energy on marketing. I know it has to be done, but how are we supposed to find time to write the next one? I love the new paradigm, with books living for years–decades is my goal!

Great pointers! I like how you said that we should focus on writing quality short stories that are easy to understand.

One problem I’m having with my book about growing up mixed, is that even if I cover only people of part-Asian descent, I still have enough to write 4-5 books. Thus, as I work on the book proposal, I’ve had trouble making it not sound overwhelming.

Basically, I took away that I should provide the reader with more bang for their buck. Help them think a bit more about the topic in ways they may not have thought about, and leave more for the second book.

Thank you!

Great list, Hugh. I like number 6 in particular. So many people think that what’s said on the internet needs to be followed. It’s simply not true, as everything’s guidelines/advice.

And yep, definitely second the luck point, as well as the one about publishing more work.

Great chat, and thank you, Hugh, for your insight about the current self-publishing world. I appreciate the third point because patience is important whenever you invest time and energy into something. You have to work hard, regardless if you get rewarded, and you push on to the next project–which is daunting! Thanks for the advice.

And, I have to add, I’m a huge fan of your work. I’m nuts about the Silo Saga, and also just got done with I, Zombie– it gave me shivers. Now working me way through Molly Fyde #2. Looking forward to reading more!

So Hugh, since I am one of your Twitter followers, I can’t wait to read as you rise to your own challenge. Maybe something nice and scary for Halloween! ;-)

Great advice, especially about getting readers before you publish, if possible. That’s something I’m working on, and I’ve got nearly 500 on my “I promise to buy one” list. If even half pan out, it’ll be a good start.

Of course, luck doesn’t hurt either. :-D

Thank you, Hugh–some of the best advice I’ve seen online, and I try my best to be a sponge for all of the indie info out there.

I recently went through a bit of a rough writing patch–my books weren’t selling particularly well, and the new titles (most of them short) weren’t bringing new readers in.

I realize I’ve been writing a lot in “niche” genres–my top-selling (if not best-selling) novel and one of my novellas is in sci-fi. I have another set of baseball novellas and a novelette that is, of all things, modern mythology.

With each one, I expect to see increasing sales, yet it seems like I’m lucky to keep hitting the same marks with the old titles each month.

I guess my question is, given points 3, 4, & 5 (“Be patient,” “Take risks,” & “More short works are better than one long work,”), should I keep on plugging away at the sequel to my semi-successful novel? Or should I write a bunch of novellas and see if any one of them gets some legs? Sadly, my risks seem thus far to be somewhat misplaced, and my next “risk” would likely be to separate my first attempt at a novel (still unpublished–160,000 words) into three shorter novels. Did I mention it’s an ongoing mystery about reincarnation centered around guessing which characters are which from lifetime to lifetime?

It’s tough to fight through the frustration at times, though I’m back up and writing again, but how did you deal with the rough patches?

Thank you so much for this blog, Hugh, and your wonderful books–I love them, you’ve been a huge inspiration, and I really appreciate everything you do for the indie community!

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