Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

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

PO’d at the PDF PDQ

I wasn’t really PO’d at the PDF–it looked great. I was just pissed off at myself. Sick to my stomach. Literally. A cold layer of sweat oozed through my pores as the room spun.

My publisher had just emailed me a PDF of my “final” book. I glanced at it again and nearly threw up on my keyboard.

“Honey?! Can you come help me?” I yelled to my wife. I said it with the same tone and inflection I would’ve used if a rattler had chewed its way into my office and latched on to my neck. She ran in the room asking if I was okay.

“No. I’m not okay. My book is awful.”

She put a hand on my neck to comfort me. “Ew,” she said. “You’re covered in sweat.”

Now, my wife is a clinical psychologist, so I assume she knows what she’s doing. Maybe I need to get worse before I can get better? She reads along with me.

“The book is great,” she says. “And baby, everyone that reads your novel loves it. Even the people that hate you seem to enjoy it.”

“Well, I hate it. I hate myself and I hate writing.” I looked up at her, completely sincere. “You know, I’ve always wanted to bag groceries. It’s an old dream of mine. You think they’ll have me?”

“Baby,” she says. “It’s just nerves. I wouldn’t let you put out something bad, and neither would your editor or your publisher.” She alternates between rubbing my head and wiping her hands on her pants. “It’ll be fine. You’re just in shock. This feeling will go away, just like it always does.”

As usual, she was right. And later, my editor explained that this was “normal” for writers. But I have a hard time believing that. Why would an entire profession put themselves through this for such meager pay?

And why won’t my wife prescribe me something so this never happens again?!

7 replies to “PO’d at the PDF PDQ”

Well I liked even reading about how nervous and sick you got, so I know that I am going to enjoy your book when it comes out!! Personally, I hope I can get that same feeling you got one day!! :) Congrats!!

What a wonderful little antidote about pre-publishing flop sweat! Thanks for sharing. (ewww) Am following your journey!

Hugh – congrats on getting the final copy! I hope the nerves have gone away enough for you to enjoy it! :)

I completely understand! I thought my book was perfect for a while – sent it out to agents and everything, and now that I have to send it to an editor I am going crazy with editing it first, thinking how bad it is, and how much it needs to be changed before anyone can read it – and figuring it will never be good enough because I’m just not a good enough writer.

And I have a hard time believing there are people who hate you! :)

I did the same thing, Heidi. I had a perfect draft, sent it off to the editor, then immediately started editing ahead of her a chapter at a time, trying to fix all the stuff I knew she was going to grab.

Then, after all that, we had the “final” manuscript. I went through looking for typos and made AS MANY edits as I had in the last round.

That’s where it sits right now. And I could do it all over again, ad infinitum, if I wished.

*sigh*

The book is SOLID!! It is engaging and everyone who has read it REALLY likes it. We can’t be that biased of a sample that we are all wrong. I’d be scared to death too – but that is just part of the process. It doesn’t reflect on the book in any way. Can’t wait for sales records to prove your fears all wrong!

We’ll take turns holding your hand while you urp, Hugh, and in the long run, you’ll see we were right all along. And then you’ll owe us, because really, who likes being in the same room with someone in that condition?

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