Hugh Howey

Author of Beacon 23

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 21, 2015

Discussion

Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
Hello! I'm Hugh Howey, author of WOOL, SAND, and just a general fan of four-letter words. I have the best job in the world: I make stuff up for a living. I'm also moving onto a sailboat in two weeks to sail around the world, which is kinda cool. Ask me anything!
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@hughhowey Wow! That hour FLEW by. Man. Thanks for the awesome questions, everyone. Hope it was half as enjoyable for you as it was for me. Really appreciate all the support and kindness you have shown over the years. Many more stories to come, so stay tuned!
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@hughhowey huge thanks to Hugh for joining us!
Ade Olonoh@adeolonoh · Entrepreneur, Angel Investor
You seem to write new books / stories at an amazing rate. What does your daily writing process look like?
Michelle Nickolaisen@_chelleshock · Owner, Bombchelle Industries
@adeolonoh @hughhowey as a tack-on question I'd love to hear about your outlining/pre-writing processes and the editing/rewriting processes too :)
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@adeolonoh I try to write 1,000 words a day. If you can average that, even with revising and editing, that's two novels a year, easily.
Hash_tag_jeff@jeffumbro · Book Marketing and PR - get in touch
I'm a big fan of your work, and really hope that Wool ends up on the big screen. You've been an advocate of a lot of different publishing processes. A few years later, is there anything you wish you'd done differently? What are some examples of really great publishing stories happening today? When/where are you going to open your bookstore?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@jeffumbro Something I wish I'd done differently: I wish I'd convinced my ex-girlfriend to quit her job and be in charge of me for a few years. We could've traveled the world together, worked together, and I think it would've brought us even closer together. I regret that. THE MARTIAN is coming out soon, and that's a fantastic publishing story. Andy Weir is the bomb. I was going to do a bookstore because I had a few years to wait before the sailing trip could begin. Now the bookstore will have to be after the circumnavigation. I'll probably open it in San Francisco, even if it means losing money every month. That would be a great retirement.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Is there a specific book from your childhood that inspired you to write?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@rrhoover A combination of Ender's Game and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. After those two, I started my first novel (and abandoned it five chapters in).
CyberZone@cyberzone334
@hughhowey A follow-up to this, since Ender's Game is on my tops list...were you please with the movie? I had to fight from walking out of the theatre when Bean was introduced in the way he was.
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@cyberzone334 I thought it was okay. I try to leave my love of the original work out of it and tell myself I'm seeing a work of fan fiction. It has to be different. You've got hundreds of creative people involved, from the lighting person, to the CGI person, to the actors.
Hash_tag_jeff@jeffumbro · Book Marketing and PR - get in touch
@hughhowey Think they'll ever make more Ender movies?
Tracy Chou@triketora
What's your sailing itinerary? An around-the-world sailing trip sounds amazing.
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@triketora I'll leave here in about a month and heat to Cape Town. A few weeks in Cape Town, then across to the Caribbean. Up the East Coast, then back down to Bermuda, then to Cuba, Central America, and through the Panama Canal. West Coast or South Pacific next, New Zealand, back to the South Pacific, then Australia, Philippines, Asia, India, Med, back across the Atlantic. I'm thinking 5 years, roughly. Though I could get to the Caribbean and never want to leave.
Hash_tag_jeff@jeffumbro · Book Marketing and PR - get in touch
@hughhowey Were you a sailor prior to your writing career?
Matt McClard@matt_mcclard
Do you still read a lot of Sci-Fi now? Any favorites?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@yankeyhotel Not as much as I'd like to. And when I do, it's usually books sent to me for blurbing. One of my favorite authors right now is Ted Kosmatka. I also love Ken Liu. The best place to discover new SF authors, I think, is any of the anthologies coming from Samuel Peralta or John Joseph Adams.
David Shutter@dvshooter · Writer
@hughhowey Can you give out any insight into Sand 2? Will it consist of more survival stories in the desert towns or will we see conflict with the civilization beyond the wasteland?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@dvshooter Sand 2 starts in Hyllel, the city destroyed at the end of SAND. It begins with a girl name Anya, who's the daughter of Brock from SAND 1. Then the story moves to Conner and company as they try to survive the savagery that follows the collapse of the wall. Plus, people are sick from drinking irradiated water. And the gypsies and cannibals mentioned in the first book come into play. It's a big hot mess. :)
David Shutter@dvshooter · Writer
@hughhowey Sounds great, thank for replying. I have a hundred other Sand questions but I'll just wait for the finished product like everyone else. Safe journey!
Luigi Tejadela@luigitejadela · Business Developer - BDI
Where do you find your inside motivation to keep writing every day?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@luigitejadela I have to write about something that matters to me. Some theme, or some observation about the human condition. Without that, I don't feel engaged with the work, and I don't want to tackle it when I wake up. I ask myself: What does this chapter say about life? And that drives me forward.
Daley Review@daleyreview · Bloggerus Maximus, Daley Review
Your open universe idea for the Wool stories is absolutely the coolest thing I've ever heard of. Letting other authors play and profit from your playground is pretty brave (we got Michael Bunker out of the deal!). Are you at all concerned that someone might tell your story better than you did? (I would be a total chicken)
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@daleyreview I hope they will! Then I can take all the credit for inventing the world that these awesome authors are playing around in. The better they write, the better my original worldbuilding looks.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@hughhowey Hey Hugh! Thank you for joining us today. Few Qs- first, tell us about the sailboat. How did this originate? what's the plan/goal? Are your writing your next book on it?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@eriktorenberg Yeah, I'll be writing while I'm on the boat. This has been a dream since high school. It was something I was always going to do.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@hughhowey What was your path into writing science fiction?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@eriktorenberg It started with a love of reading fantasy. When I ran out of Forgotten Realm and Dragonlance books, I started looking at the Sci-Fi shelved right there. I read Ender's Game, and it blew me away. I read everything I could from the genre. I started dreaming up my own stories.
Leslie Lee Sanders@leslielsanders · Author
@hughhowey You have a massive following. How can a lesser known author build a following too, in addition to writing great books?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@leslielsanders It starts with one fan. For me, it was my cousin Lisa. She loved my first manuscript, and she told others about it. I had 30 Facebook friends. And then 50. And then 75. But to get there, I wrote four novels and a handful of short stories my first year out the gate, back in 2009 / 2010. I wrote obsessively. And I read a ton as well. This was on top of working a full-time job and doing most of the domestic chores around the house. So that's what it took for me. Everyone will have their own results.
Tracy Chou@triketora
What do you think is the future of publishing? What's the role of self-publishing vs. the big publishing companies?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@triketora Self-publishing is going to continue to eat market share from the big houses. The future will see even less of a stigma. I think agents (or other authors) will set up boutique publishing houses that help authors self-pub and take 15%. They'll be able to earn that money, I believe.
Jeff Needles@jsneedles · Data @ Houseparty & Maker of Things
@hughhowey Thoughts on live streaming as a story telling medium? Think you could share some of your process via an app like Meerkat? 😻
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@jsneedles I'm not familiar with Meerkat. I do think there's more room for live storytelling, but I'd want it to be audio/video, rather than text. Let the author clean up the text later.
Daley Review@daleyreview · Bloggerus Maximus, Daley Review
When I read The Shell Collector, it reminded me of Paolo Baccigaluppi's flooded over worlds. Do you read his work?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@daleyreview I've read some of his short stories, but nothing with a flood. He's one of my favorite authors. Dude is brilliant.
Daley Review@daleyreview · Bloggerus Maximus, Daley Review
@hughhowey in his worlds, the world is pretty much past the point of saving. The Shell Collector fit into a continuity I set up in my own brain as a prequel. A small story in the phase of a global flood where it's undeniable that things have changed, but people still can't quite deal with it. Thanks for the reply... Give Windup Girl a read if you have time.
popi chalkidiou@popic · architect
How close are you to writing a sequel for "Halfway Home"? I would love to read it!
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@popic I would say 2-3 years away. A few other books I have to write first. Sorry for the wait! I know it's a fan favorite.
Annie Fanelli@sweethomeannie · Smart Cremation Pre-Planning Consultant
Hello!!! I've read that you posted the first installment of Wool online, and that later (at some point), after massive fan encouragement, you added the rest. When the first part was published, how much of the rest of the story had you written? Did you know the ending/characters/etc already, ala Lost (*chuckle), or was it simply an idea you had to write about?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@sweethomeannie I didn't have anything beyond the first story. I'd never written a serialized story before. All I knew was this was the first thing readers went nuts over, and I had to give them more. So I brainstormed the rest of the novel (the 5 parts), and published as quickly as I could, fearing my five minutes would be up any second.
Annie Fanelli@sweethomeannie · Smart Cremation Pre-Planning Consultant
@hughhowey Thanks for your reply! I was hoping that would be your response :) *Annie pulls out her idea file(s) and gets to it...
Michelle Nickolaisen@_chelleshock · Owner, Bombchelle Industries
@hughhowey Some overlap with Erik's question but, if you had to give a new author one or two tips about getting their work out there and finding an audience for it, what would they be?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@_chelleshock Take the very long view. The VERY LONG view. Tell yourself you're going to write and publish for 10 years before you care how big your audience is or how much money you make. You have to be that dedicated and that patient. The goal should be to write and publish 20 novels. If you write that many words, and publish that many works, you'll make it. Anything less is a gamble.
Eliot Peper@eliotpeper · author
@hughhowey This is the best advice I've ever heard on this front. You wrote something similar on your blog years ago and when I started writing, I took it to heart. Now I'm three books deep and just starting to find my audience. When I started, I committed to publishing 1+ million words over my 10 years. Beyond finding readers, it's payed off again and again in terms of developing craft. There's no better way to learn than to make loads of mistakes and get right back in the saddle :).
Michelle Nickolaisen@_chelleshock · Owner, Bombchelle Industries
@hughhowey Had to go work so I missed responding during AMA time but thank you! That's what I'm trying as I already have a FT living doing writing (albeit business writing) and teaching and I do enjoy it, so my goal is to create as much fiction as I can and just put it out there even if it's not absolutely perfect, starting with the first book in a trilogy next month. :) Thanks for the encouragement and for taking time to do the AMA!
George Smith@smitti77
@hughhowey is there any serious concern for you in regards to pirates while sailing? And what are you doing to protect yourself if so?
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
Manda Meow@mandameow · Housecat
George Smith@smitti77
@hughhowey I meant the literal kind, not the digital!
Hugh Howey@hughhowey · Author
@smitti77 I figured. Just playing with you. I don't worry about pirates in most places. There are a few areas of concern, but I have a few years before I get there. 99.9% of pleasure boats pass through safely. You travel in numbers. You can hire armed escorts. The bigger concern for me is the number of places where crime against boaters has risen. Stolen dinghies. People getting robbed. There are beautiful places I'll have to avoid, and that's a shame. These places could all get more wealthy by being safe for tourism, rather than preying on those who stray too near.