SPP 023 – Interview with “Wool” Author Hugh Howey

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Today we were joined by Hugh Howey, author of the runaway self-publishing success Wool. If you haven’t read Wool, definitely pick it up and check it out. It’s short and it’s free. The best way to get the rest of the series if you like it is in the complete omnibus (Wool 1-5).

Books in the Wool series, just FYI, sell bazillions of copies monthly (an exact figure), and movie rights to the book were recently optioned by Fox and Ridley Scott.

We didn’t dick around nearly as much before getting started this week, which must mean that we were eager to talk to Hugh. Or something.

Hugh Howey: Yes, he’s had a lot of writing success. But nobody in the popular press talks about how he’s a hybrid of Sean and Dave

Wool is the story of a dystopian society that lives in a buried silo after some sort of worldwide cataclysm, but what we didn’t realize was how dystopian Hugh himself is. We were fooled by nice, friendly videos like this one of him opening fan gifts, this one of him surprising a young fan in a bookstore, and this one of him dancing to Soulja Boy while wearing funny slippers and a funny hat. But then he started telling us vintage Dave Wright trademarked thoughts that always ended with people eating other people because that’s how life is and generally non-happy endings.

Oh, and then we almost kind of remembered to ask him about his self-publishing success. Right.

A few key points from our discussion:

* Hugh didn’t promote Wool because he didn’t believe in it as much as his other work and thought it was the most non-commercial, which just goes to show that you never know which of your writing projects might catch fire.

* He seems to have at least four projects going right now and moves between them as the urge and/or dominant direction of his fiction dictates, which I found odd. (But I’m currently writing three things all at once, so who’s actually doing something odd here?)

* Unsurprisingly, one of Hugh’s tips is to write a lot. That’s a dominant theme here, right? You need a large “Amazon footprint” so that you can be found, and any given project has a chance to hit critical mass.

* More of Hugh’s advice: Write a lot of different types of work that interest you rather than staying really narrow in focus, beat writer’s block by writing something else (because if the book doesn’t excite you, it won’t excite a reader), and stop dead in the middle of scenes, paragraphs, or sentences when you’re done for the day to create an open loop you’re dying to close.

* One of the greatest things about Kindle and other e-book formats is the ability to experiment and get real-time fan feedback — something you can’t do with a traditional book and with many other hands on a project.

… and of course a whole, whole lot more.

Oh, and Hugh enjoyed hanging out with us so much and/or secretly hates life enough that he stuck around after this episode and joined us for Better Off Undead episode #9, which we recorded immediately afterward. Check that one out if you’d like an answer to, “Is Hugh actually the vampire version of Dave”?

To view the video version of this episode, go to: Self Publishing Podcast #23 – Interview with “Wool” author Hugh Howey

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  1. I really loved Wool and I only read it recently as an omnibus. I loved Juliet and the silos – awesome work and I’m so glad it took off so we could all discover you. I also love your advice on shorter works (which Sean & Dave also enthuse on) and it’s something I am also playing with now – I’ll be checking out the Plagiarist and Hurricane – and if you’re ever in the UK, let me know as you have lots of fans over here :)
    Thanks, Joanna

  2. I luv wool and the overall story world Hugh created. He’s such a cool guy, and I laugh my face off when watching his Youtube videos.

    I also watched his other interviews.
    It seems really hard to gauge whether you have a potential “bestseller” on your hands or not.
    That’s why his idea of creating many different novellas to see which stick is a kick-ass approach, I’m working on that myself now at the beginning of writing career.

    Lots of bromance here. Gooood laughs. And sweet value.

    Keep it comin’, guys.

    • That’s what I got… keep making good stuff, and something is bound to strike a nerve with SOMEONE.

      • Just like throwing spaghetti on a wall.

  3. I guess I am pretty out of touch because I had never heard of Wool until I listened to this podcast, but now I am cheating on my bookclub book with it and loving every word. I can’t even imagine how frustrating it must have been for those early readers just to read the first novella though. I would have been tearing my hair out waiting for a sequel.

    On a sperate note, you really need a quotable quotes page:

    Some serious: “Comments don’t ay the rent” (Dave)

    Some just plain strange: “I’m different with my mother than I am with my wife” (Sean)

  4. I do not know if it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing problems with your website. It appears as though some of the written text within your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them too? This could be a issue with my internet browser because I’ve had
    this happen previously. Thanks



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