Hugh Howey is an author and he’s a fantastic writer. But he’s not your typical author. Hugh Howey is on the forefront of the future of publishing. His website gives a status report of the progress he’s making on his current projects. And he engages directly with is fans (I’ve actually emailed him a few times to report typos I’ve seen and he’s responded each time).
But those are just niceties that any author could be doing. What sets Howey apart is his understanding that technology has changed the game. eReaders, on-demand printing, and the Internet overall with easy access to self-run websites and easy-to-use payment systems have changed everything (Amazon is a big player in this new ecosystem). And not just his understanding about this changing world but his embracing it and pushing it forward. He’s showing everyone else how to be an author in the 21st century.
I’m a big fan of Howey’s. The first reason is that he’s just a fantastic writer. When I read his work my eyes just glide over the words. His writing isn’t necessarily simple, but it has fantastic flow (his blog post about vocabulary, rhythm, and plot elucidates the point). It’s rare that I stumble over a sentence and have to back up and try again when reading his work. It’s incredible and it makes you want to just keep reading because you barely notice that you are, in fact, reading.
I started with Howey by reading The Wool Omnibus based off a recommendation from the GeekDad blog. I was hooked. I needed more. I quickly devoured the Shift stories that act as a prequel to Wool. And then I anxiously waited for the conclusion, Dust. Since then I’ve breezed through Half Way Home and was just in time to catch the release of the Sand Omnibus. And I still want more. (Word of warning: Howey’s characters due use expletives on a not-irregular basis, in case that bothers you.)
But he’s more than just a fantastic author. As I said, he sees where publishing is going.
Howey refuses to cripple his eBook works with DRM. He understands how DRM hurts the very people that support him. I really appreciate this.
He refuses to sell his soul to a publishing company. While he now has made deals with publishing companies it’s always on his terms (something they told him repeatedly was never going to happen, until it did; they caved, he won).
He refuses to gouge his customers, because to him we’re not customers, were fans. And you need to treat your fans right. His works are always made available at reasonable prices right out of the gate. The cost of seeing if you like Howey’s writing is so small that you don’t even have to think about it. No one likes dropping $20 on a book and not liking it. Libraries are great for mitigating this issue, but $0.99 for the first slice of a story is great too. In fact, right now, you can pick up Wool Part 1 for FREE, that’s right, $0.00 for the eBook. Even if you don’t have an eReader you can read it on your computer, or your phone, or your tablet to see if you like it. Then you can buy the physical book if you want or pick up the rest of the parts in eBook form.
He refuses to restrict other authors’ creativity and interests. He has given his blessing to other authors to explore the worlds he has created. This is why if you look on Amazon you will find dozens of fan-fiction stories set in his worlds. He understands that not only does this not hurt him or his work in any way; it helps his fans build a robust and excited community. A community that will eagerly fall over itself to buy his next story and see where they can take those worlds.
I anxiously await more stories from Howey.