Just added Portland to the book tour. Saturday the 16th of March, 4PM at Powell's downtown.


I was asked by several people for my writing advice. I've created a blog post to answer all of those questions as best as I can: My advice to aspiring writers

One year ago today, I posted an innocuous AMA entitled: I'm a self-published author, and I just quit my day job. I expected a question or two. I received hundreds. It was an absolute blast for me, and considering all that's happened over the past year, I thought an anniversary AMA would be fun.

I'm flying from Houston to Kansas City today, so I'll be in the air for a couple of hours. I'm on a 12-stop book tour, which means radio and TV demands, but this AMA will be at the top of my priority list for my free time. I'll also try to go through over the next week or two and catch up with the questions.

Ask me Anything!

(I mentioned this AMA on my website today as proof of who I am. I've also messaged the moderators to set this up in advance).

Comments: 716 • Responses: 121  • Date: 

hughhowey45 karma

Stewardess is getting aggressive. Back in two hours!

phill040636 karma

Has writing literature given you a stable financial income?

hughhowey190 karma

Not stable (income varies month to month), but I made over a million dollars last year, which should last me for a while (as long as I cut down on the booze and whores, which I'm going to do tomorrow. Promise).

phill040620 karma

Wow, that's awesome. Congratulations. Follow up question; coming from a liquor snob, what's the nicest bottle you've bought with that money?

hughhowey88 karma

I buy LOTS of cheap shit. It all tastes the same after a while. You just have to suffer through the first two bottles.

lolapops11 karma

You made over a million dollars last year, and still have a "buy me a coffee" button on your website? Wow! That's bold!!

hughhowey12 karma

I never wanted it there in the first place. Readers asked for it. Now it's used for international shipping for signed books.

RockArtNick36 karma


hughhowey43 karma

This is the greatest damn compliment of all time. I'm copying/pasting for when I feel down about my writing. THanks.

hughhowey27 karma

Sitting on the plane, responding to questions. This is some hella dedication.

MichaelJSullivan24 karma

Hey Hugh, No real question...just dropping in to thank you for sticking to your guns and getting "THE" deal. I'm so glad to see you, Bella, Coleen breaking down the walls. My sales are still too low to warrant such a deal but at least I know that it is at least possible...someday...if I can become a real boy.

In any case, I'm returning to self-publishing with "Hollow World." Even though the Riryia Revelations are selling well, Orbit passed on it because they said "Science fiction isn't selling well these days" and all I could think of is, "Tell that to Hugh Howey!" If you get to the Washington DC area, drop me a line and we'll lift a mug and complain about how screwed up publishing is.

hughhowey33 karma

I would LOVE to sit down over some food or drinks with you and your wife. That would be awesome. And I think you'll be better off SP anyway. Thanks for all the ground you broke for me, man.

johnjones8121 karma

Hi Hugh! I literally finished WOOL yesterday and I must say that I loved it. I think I read the whole thing in 2 sittings, I seriously could not put it down. I've already purchased First Shift but decided to have a little break from the silo by reading "I, Zombie" first. Man, I don't think I've ever felt so queasy so quickly from a book before. I guess my question for you is: what book has caused the strongest physical reaction in yourself and why? Travel safe today!

hughhowey58 karma

I, ZOMBIE for sure. It was my catharsis for my 9/11 experiences, my ode to NYC, and my dealing with both PTSD and my loss of belief in Free Will. I packed every horrible thought and emotion into that one book so that I could buy a copy and burn the fuck out of it.

CarRacer21 karma

I work in the printing industry (I know it's dying) and love ebooks. How do you like digital publishing and where do you think it's going? Why don't publishers bundle the ebook into physical copies for another dollar or two?

hughhowey67 karma

Why don't they give the ebook away with the sale of hardbacks? I don't get publishers. There is so much they could be doing creatively to boost sales, but they are acting like the music and film industries. As a reader, it's frustrating.

I think the publishing world is moving to 60% ebooks and 40% physical books. It'll probably take 5 years, but it'll get there and stabilize. There will always be books. And every bit of this is wild guessing based on my time as a bookseller and now as an industry watcher.

Inkthinker30 karma

Don't you reckon it's because the direct customer of the traditional publisher is not the readers, but rather the retailers? Amazon, B&N, Waterstone, Wal*Mart, Target, and the thousands of other outlets for physical books are the ones who actually pay publishers for their product, and then readers then pay the retailers for their copies. If publishers sold directly to readers, then they would work harder to serve the readers' interests.

It's the same problem that the music and film business has. Movie studios don't sell movies to viewers. Music publishers don't sell music to listeners. All of these industries sell directly to other businesses that specialize in distribution to the consumer, meaning those businesses are their customers.

Any action with potentially negative ramifications for their customers is going to be looked upon poorly by any business. Our mistake was in thinking that consumers were the customers.

hughhowey5 karma

Good points.

NinjaDiscoJesus19 karma

Did you meet Sir Ridley?

hughhowey33 karma

Not yet. Probably won't happen unless the film gets released. And maybe not even then (they sit authors up in the cheap seats during premieres).

NinjaDiscoJesus11 karma

if you do meet him tell him I think he is the shit

hughhowey91 karma

If I meet Ridley Scott, the very first thing I'm going to say to him is: "Ninja Disco Jesus thinks you're the shit."

I'll let you know how he reacts.

NinjaDiscoJesus28 karma

Blow cigar smoke in your face and headbutt you probably.

hughhowey36 karma

That would be epic.

Citizen_Kong18 karma

Have you ever played any of the Fallout games? If so, how did they influence you in writing Wool?

hughhowey30 karma

I did, especially the originals. I didn't put the connection together until someone from the BBC brought it up. I'm sure they influenced me.

blunt-e9 karma

Tunnel snakes for life!

team_pizza5 karma

Tunnel snakes rule!

hughhowey6 karma

Yummy tunnel snakes!

iGlitched17 karma

First off, I absolutely loved Wool and The Plagiarist.

Have you ever wrote a chapter or so and decided to scrap it for a different plot/storyline?

Any teasers for Sand?

hughhowey27 karma

First off, THANKS!

I scrap chapters but never really use them anywhere else.

Sand is going to be so much more claustrophobic than Wool. Imagine that.

elcheecho48 karma

Imagine that.

isn't that why we're paying you?

hughhowey13 karma


theCircleK17 karma

Hey Hugh! I know you probably won't see this but my boyfriend and I met you in the dog park in Boone. I had a really timid puppy and your dog Bella played with her - really showed her how to play- for hours over the next couple days. Then you disappeared and my friend recommended your book and we put two and two together, even though i know you told is about it. I just want to wish you all the success. I've been following your adventures on Facebook. If you do read this can you give my love to Bella? You guys did more for us than you will ever know. We wish you continued success.

hughhowey21 karma

YES!! I still think about that day. It was very emotional for me, seeing your puppy come out. How cool.

I moved to Florida. I hope all is well with you. I'll squeeze Bella for you. Do the same for your pup.

waltwalters16 karma

First gear works most of the time. Second gear some of the time. Walt can’t remember if third gear works. He doesn’t need third gear on his farm’s dirt roads.

Rattling and sputtering along in his Chevy C10, Walt makes his way north on Interstate 49. He holds his breathe, well, as much as a man who smokes three packs a day can, and shifts into third gear. Success.

In the low light of dusk, Walt’s eyes searched to find a sign for Route 56. His son had told him not to come. The last time Walt drove past suppertime his truck inadvertently plowed a section of the cornfield.

“Faulty steering link” Oliver said.

Six hours, three gas station stops, and 17 expletives later Walt pulls into the parking lot next to the little brick bookstore. As Walt steps out of the truck and makes his way to the door, he sees a small flyer advertising the book signing.

“Hugh Howey. Yes, that’s the name.”

Walt stormed into Rainy Day Books looking for this Hugh Howey he has heard so much about. The whole room turned to look at Walt - his entrance interrupting Howey’s speech about how much popular culture influenced Wool.

“Mr. Howey. My name is Walter. I was wondering if you could come help me repair my silo.”

hughhowey10 karma

Fucking love this. Please write more.

inmyotherpants7914 karma

I bought WOOL by accident last Christmas and since, I've converted my disabled mother and my husband into fans. I've found you, and DJ Molles (he needs to finish the next Remaining book!!!!), but who are some other self-published author I need to know about?

hughhowey16 karma

Matthew Mather, David Adams, Annie Bellet. Man . . . there are so many. Go to Kindle Boards and the Writers' Cafe. That's where I've found most of the serious indie writers hang out. If you see books in sigs, they are probably worth reading.

hellerbenjamin14 karma

Hi Hugh, I had never heard of you or Wool. I found Wool through Amazon.com's recommendations about 6-8 months ago. I imagine word of mouth and recommendations from Amazon.com really help explosive growth happen and was wondering what initial marketing did you do to get to that point. Do you credit any one or two things with the book taking off? BTW - I loved Wool. So did my wife and friend that I pushed the book to. Thanks and best of luck with all your upcoming projects.

hughhowey33 karma

I didn't market Wool at all in the beginning. It wasn't until the sales started shooting up that I began throwing logs on the fire. I did promotion days where I gave the first book away for free (it's now set to free permanently).

The best promotion, I've found, is to interact with existing readers (which is enjoyable) rather than browbeat new people into reading (which nobody likes). If the work is making people happy, they'll tell others. That's the best promotion.

blade74024 karma

I read that free chapter, got hooked, and bought the rest of the series. You're like that drug dealer my parents warned me about.

hughhowey15 karma

The dangers of reading! Just say NO.

hughhowey13 karma

Room Service. How AMAs get done.

hughhowey12 karma

Not bad. Chicken salad sandwich and some fries.

hughhowey12 karma

I'm sitting at the gate. Boarding in 15 minutes or so. When I land, I'll run through as many questions as I can.

betctru12 karma

Hey, Hugh...

I see you are going to be at the VA Festival of Books. What day or days are you actually going to be there? Is it only Friday, March 22?

hughhowey16 karma

My event is Friday night, but I'll be there Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

betctru10 karma

Great...will you have copies of Wool for purchase and signing? Or should I bring one with me?

(Betsy the Quilter from Kboards)

hughhowey17 karma

BETSY!!!! I'm gonna hug the hell out of you when we meet. And cuss. And see if your filter works in person.

They'll have some there. Hopefully they won't sell out. :)

teriv3 karma

Have you picked a definite day/time/location for a meetup? I know there was some discussion about it on Facebook.

hughhowey4 karma

Not yet. My schedule keeps changing.

the430nstorn11 karma

Absolutely fantastic books! I don't have a question, just wanted to bask in your awesome. Thank you!

hughhowey9 karma

Thank you!

purdinpopo10 karma

I just got Wool for my kindle. My Question is does Amazon compensate you at all for free books? Or do you you put the free ones out there to get people into your books?

hughhowey22 karma

Nope. I give them away like a drug dealer doses out samples. :)

still_dave10 karma

Wool absolutely blew my mind. Having been on a cheap and crappy sci-fi/fantasy kindle binge for a while, when I picked up Wool I wasn't expecting much. Pleasantly surprised would be the understatement of the century.

But seriously though, get the hell off of Reddit and get back to writing the next one!

hughhowey7 karma

Thanks, man! :)

joiles9 karma

After much nagging from my boyfriend (who has been a big fan of yours for sometime now), I'm now a considerable way through Wool, which I'm thoroughly enjoying! I'm an aspiring author and wondered if you set yourself a daily/weekly/monthly word target? If so, what is it and how has this increased since quitting your job a year ago? I'm working full-time and sometimes find I'm slightly over-ambitious with what I can actually churn out.

hughhowey23 karma

I aim for 2,000 words a day. 1,000 is my "I don't hate myself today" minimum. On great days, I can write 5,000. It has gotten harder lately with the book tour.

djcoolguy8 karma

Where and how do you usually get's your great ideas for your books?

hughhowey27 karma

I read the paper every day. I don't know why, but current events inspire stories in me. I also observe the world and daydream.

I think you have to be a little bit crazy to be an author.

bjladams8 karma

a few months back, there were initial sketches for a graphic novel of Wool, is that still being worked on, and is there somewhere to view teasers?

hughhowey21 karma

A different comic adaptation is being worked on. Haven't announced this yet, but it's going to be a big deal. 6 individual comics that'll be combined into a graphic novel. We're in development right now.

Magneon8 karma

No real questions, I just wanted to say that I enjoyed Wool and that you're awesome and an inspiration. Enjoy your success!

hughhowey5 karma


hughhowey8 karma

They're boarding the plane. The next time I check in, it'll be from the back of a car on my way to the hotel.

SeaworthXIII8 karma


:] Any more developments in the world of The Plagiarist!? I want moooore from that fantastic universe. I still find that one of my favorite short stories of all time (seriously). If any of you guys have not read it yet...do it now! It is awesome...!

Also, come back to NYC we miss you!

  • Ser Antthony :D

hughhowey12 karma

Ser Antthony!!! Wassap, man? I definitely want to return to that world. I have big plans for that series.

leroy_sunset7 karma

Alright man, I usually avoid Sci-Fi because it's so poorly written, but I am going to give Wool a chance. Congrats on making a sale.

hughhowey8 karma

Shit. The pressure's on.

Mr_vindictive7 karma

Glad to see you back on Reddit, Hugh!

What has been the most surprising or most unexpected aspect of the newfound stardom?

hughhowey30 karma

The groupies. I had no idea authors got these.

Being recognized in public once or twice has been uber-weird.

lily13466 karma

Dude, I'd totally bang an author I read and respected before I'd bang a moderately famous musician. AND I'm a girl, which, aside from being relevant to this statement, is generally pretty cool.

hughhowey17 karma

We should get together and discuss this sometime! :)

Petalsper7 karma

I just finished Wool Omnibus! This isn't so much a question as a thank you. I'd been searching for a good post-apocolyptic bunker(silo) kind of story for a long time before I stumbled onto Wool.

hughhowey5 karma

Sweet. Thanks!

jzzsxm7 karma

As somebody who typically pirates audiobooks, I'm happy to report that I purchased the WOOL one. I don't know if you had any say in allowing the audiobook to sync with the kindle book while reading/listening but it was wonderful! Thank you!

hughhowey9 karma

My pleasure! Thanks.

wjdavies6 karma

How do you deal with negative criticism? Your book Halfway Home has a gay protagonist, and I see a lot of 1-star reviews which take offense to the very mention of homosexuality in your story. Here's a choice example - "great to find out AFTER you buy something that it's Queer-bait Star Trek...funny, if you think this shit is ok, why don't you put it in the Title????" Are you able to shrug these off?

My Wool fanfiction The Runner also touches on this "controversial" theme, and I've gotten my share of 1 and 2 star reviews on Amazon because of it. At first this bothered me, but then I realized if the reviewers can't be open-minded about these types of social issues, it's more their loss than mine. Would you ever alter a story you're writing in order to avoid this type of negative feedback?

hughhowey6 karma

I don't deal with it well at all. I'm a very sensitive dude. I hope that doesn't change, though. I think it informs my writing.

Drluv6 karma

I met Hugh Howey by chance/luck at the Joint Burger/NYC last May were we shared a table and our mutual interest in photography.

When he told me his story, I told him that I had read his last year's AMA at Reddit.

He was supernice and took me to B&H Photo. We spent the rest of the day there.

Hugh deserves all the praise he gets. I am glad I had the opportunity to meet him in real life. Truly a remarkable man.

It was a great experience for me as a brazilian tourist in NYC to stumble uppon a such a great person and fellow reditor.

Hugh, when you come down to Brazil, let me know!!!

hughhowey5 karma

Ha! That was a great time. We looked at used lenses, and I really wanted that 200mm - 400mm. So cool to hear from you again. Small damn world.

If I come to Brazil, it'll be early next year. We'll get together.

passionlessDrone6 karma

Hi Hugh Howey -

Please stop responding to this reddit thread, your book signings, your SO, your recreational alcohol and/or drug habits, your prostitutes, and anything else that is keeping you from finishing Dust. I feel like I'm sitting in fucking Silo 17 waiting, waiting, watching the days spin while the worthless 'real world' bombards me with non-silo related demands, requests, and then more demands. All the while, I trudge through, thinking, when am I going to read Dust? Rescue me from the real world!

As far as asking a question:

Did you know that you are my hero?


I noted on your website that you thought Dust was going to be even darker. How is this even remotely possible?

Thank you.

hughhowey8 karma

Hey, I wrote 1,200 words on the short plane ride today! It's getting done.

As far as asking a question: Did you know that you are my hero?

Yes. That's why my underwear is on the outside.

Secondarily I noted on your website that you thought Dust was going to be even darker. How is this even remotely possible?

I kill everyone. EVERYONE.

Thank you.


ApocaRUFF6 karma

Is there anything you dislike about writing, or your fame? Have you run into issues with crazy fans (stalkers, threats, etc...)?

hughhowey35 karma

I love my crazy fans, are you kidding?

The only thing I dislike about writing is when people come over and I have to put pants on.

Skaundrel6 karma

All I can say to you is, "God damn, can you fucking write"

hughhowey13 karma

And you can give a fucking compliment.

d0k74_j0n356 karma

I saw on Amazon that you endorsed The Runner, a piece of Silo fanfiction (for lack of a better term). How do you feel about other authors adopting the Silo setting?

hughhowey12 karma

I'm actively encouraging it. I want other writers to be discovered and to make a living from their craft. If I've been put in a position to help, I find that to be the coolest part of this success I'm having.

manoftoomanywords5 karma

I'm a fellow indie writer (we're friends on facebook, actually). This isn't a question so much as a thank you. I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I could remember, but got burned out on trying to query agents and publishers years ago, then burned out on prose altogether, and figured I'd try becoming a screenwriter instead.

Your self-publishing and subsequent career explosion are what pushed me not only to try self-publishing my stuff, but to get back into prose at all. "You're an inspiration" is an understatement; I'm just straight-up chasing after you, like a rabid dog. You know those posts you wrote about George RR Martin? You're my George RR Martin.

Also, be honest: are the silos actually spaceships? I bet they are.

hughhowey3 karma

Wow. Damn. Thanks.

Offensive_Statement5 karma

Have you ever heard of the concept of sequelitis?

hughhowey13 karma

I thought I made that word up! Yeah, it's a problem for writers. Which is why I jump genres and write stories all over the place. It gives you a better chance of success.

It's also why the Wool series will end as three collections. And then I'm off to something else.

Offensive_Statement10 karma

I write this novelty account* both as an exercise in writing and a personal thought experiment, and I always find it endearing when people doing AMAs actually answer it in earnest. As an aspring writer, it's always inspiring to see other people succeed.

*In case you don't know, a novelty account is a single use account where the username defines what the account does. The most well known novelties include Shitty_Watercolour and the late POLITE_ALLCAPS_GUY.

hughhowey6 karma


Granto865 karma

I'm going to the event in Kansas City today! What should I expect? How can I secretly identify myself to you?

hughhowey6 karma

Tell me you're the guy from the AMA!

And we're meeting for BBQ at Oklahoma Joe's beforehand if you want to join. I'll be there around 5:30.

breenon5 karma

My 12 year old daughter used to read teen vampire romance garbage. Got her to read the Molly Fyde series and she has now progressed onto the Wool series and taking an interest in other science fiction books.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

hughhowey8 karma

Yay! We saved one!

sirgregero5 karma

Loved Loved Loved the Silo stories, so thank you for your continued work on them.

Any word on the state of the movie adaptation?

hughhowey10 karma

The screenplay is being written as we speak. J Blakeson is at the helm.

Murphinator50005 karma

Shitchyaeh! Totally coming to meet you at Vroman's LA on Sunday! Getcha singin' pen ready, sucka!

hughhowey8 karma

Get your book ready, sucka!

indeedwatson5 karma

How do you feel about piracy?

It's the first I hear of you and I really want to read Wool now, but I literally have no money :( If you say no, I won't do it :)

hughhowey22 karma

I'm all for piracy. Please steal my book. It's very easy to find.

Travelerdude5 karma

Congrats, again. I'm about 2/3rd through my first book. The whole story looks now to span 2 books and I'll finish the first draft of both before polishing the first book. I'm considering self-publishing it, since it looks to be fairly long even as book one and you previously commented that publishers tend to shy away from long first novels. Any recommendations to which companies I should consider for self-publishing these days? Any to avoid?


hughhowey9 karma

Publishers will grab anything that's selling well. I think the reason first novels have a hard time is because they're first novels! Congrats on getting so much writing done, btw. Please push through to the end. And then revise, revise, revise. :)

LowFuel5 karma

Hi Hugh! Jason M. Hough here. I wanted to say thanks for writing nice things about my book. I'm extremely grateful and humbled!

My question is: what's been your most humbling "I can't believe this is really happening" moment so far during the amazing (and well deserved) success of Wool?

hughhowey11 karma

I have so many of those moments! Last night at the Houston reading, I had people telling me this was the best book they've ever read. Stuff like that is surreal. I feel like this is happening to someone else.

LisaGrace5 karma

Is Sand inspired by the latest sinkhole incident or am I way off base? You mention your loss in belief in "Free Will." Do you believe then that everything is pre-destined? Or were just expressing frustration that free will does not define the outcome of our decisions?

hughhowey9 karma

I thought up Sand about two years ago. And I don't think things are preordained in a mystical sense, only that we are creatures of reflex. We do what we have to do in any situation.

contractor123454 karma

While growing up, what were some of the things that you did that might have influnced your interest in writing.

hughhowey9 karma

Reading a lot. Sailing. Spending a lot of time in quiet places.

FilterOne4 karma

Hi Hugh!

Do you know you have your own subreddit? Stop by /r/wool sometime!

hughhowey3 karma

No way...

StephenMHolak4 karma

Hugh--just saw in the daily DBW newsletter that Random / House-Hydra is caving over the public pressure brought on by the SFWA letter wars.

Care to weigh in on that topic?

hughhowey8 karma

Scalzi is a badass. Those contracts were bullshit. Good to see the power of some internet outrage making a change.

Atreides10104 karma

Hi Hugh! I requested this AMA for you after I finished reading the Wool Omnibus and was twitchy for some answers. I was sure that Reddit would have a lot of your fans and you would give a very interesting AMA. I notice that you're being elusive and not throwing us any bones. Come on, Hugh! Just a little somethin' somethin'? You are a great inspiration to many aspiring writers out there and your encouragement is heartwarming.

hughhowey5 karma

Hey, I think I replied to that request this morning or yesterday to let you know this was coming up. What kind of bone are you looking for? I'm trying to answer all the questions. You expecting full frontal or something?

MJDeebiss4 karma

Just wanted to say I have no background on you at all BUT Wool was recommended and recently shipped via Amazon and I am anxiously awaiting it. So there.

I guess a quick question: What are your favorite books? Current must-reads? I'm on a reading binge lately.

hughhowey13 karma

My current favorite book is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Must reads are too numerous to list. Try the Naked God trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton. That's some golden stuff, there.

SentientPrimate3 karma

How long have you been writing and how many books had you written before your first successful one?

hughhowey6 karma

3 years and 7 books. The 8th story finally took off. Great question, btw.

elemming3 karma

There is some talk of a Science Fiction Hugo nomination for Wool. I know of a couple people that listed that and you for best new writer (not a Hugo) but given at same World Convention.

hughhowey3 karma

Impossible. They don't give major awards to self-published material. I'll eat cheesecake if it makes the shortlist.

returnofthesmack3 karma

What were your thoughts when you met George R.R. Martin? About what he wrote in your book? About surpassing ASOIF on Amazon?

Thanks for doing this!

hughhowey9 karma

I was starstruck. And I begged him to write something cheeky in there. He's a very kind and generous dude.

And believe this: surpassing ASOIF is temporary. The universe will right itself soon enough.

SheffieldAbella3 karma

About a year ago, around the time of your last AMA, I started writing my book. I finished it and I'm now waiting to get it back from my editor. No question, just saying thanks for inspiring me.

hughhowey6 karma

No shit? That's humbling, man.

SkylerWest3 karma

Hi Hugh,

Once again, love the books. Finally convinced my brother to try Wool, so he's just bought the hardback. Looks stunning.

You heading over to the UK at any point, and if you had to pick a job in the Silo, what would you want to do?

Can't wait to see what you do with SAND. Claustrophobia seems to really raise the stakes and make compelling reading. Keep up the good work.


hughhowey5 karma

I just got back from the UK! I was in London, Dublin and Wales.

I would be a farmer, for sure. Just like my dad.

hughhowey3 karma

Sorry for all the cussing, btw. I'm really low on sleep and quite punch-drunk from exhaustion.

magnoliafly3 karma

Wool was my first introduction to your work and I've since turned at least 20 people on to it since then. Thank you for sharing such great stories with the world!

  • What is your character development process like?

  • Any solid plans on doing a signing in or near Tampa?

hughhowey8 karma

Thanks so much for that!

Characters seem to jump out at me wholecloth. I try to flesh them out by coming up with a detailed backstory and by making sure they have families and jobs. That's a rarity in fiction, I feel.

I'm always in Jupiter, FL. No plans for the West coast right now. :(

laz3033 karma


THere is just so much that can be done in the universe you have created... If I recall correctly they are trying to link the two silos underground for more space.. Will they also reach out to other nearby silos and get in communication with them? will they negotiate with the control silo to leave some silo's alone? there is now implied that only one silo will survive if the plan comes to pass totally.. has the way that is to be carried out been broken by the 2 independant silos or can control still reach out and kill them?

hughhowey9 karma

Oh, nothing that hopeful or controlled. It's going to be utter chaos. And then it's going to get worse. :)

mauxly2 karma

Oh gosh, I hope you are still doing this!

You mentioned last year that you are being courted by film and tv people. How is that going? Can you talk a little about your mindset when you were first contacted? And if you've made decisions regarding these offers and how you made the decisions?

And, were you at all terrified when you first plopped your self out there as a self publisher? Was there any fear that you'd just flop, that there wasn't a market for your writing and you'd have to hang it up if it didn't fly?

hughhowey3 karma

It went very well! I sold the film option to Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian for a bundle of cash. The screenplay is being written right now.

Was I scared to publish? A little. But I was more terrified not to do it.

I write because I love writing, so there wasn't a fear of not "making it" as a writer. Publishing is making it as a writer. No one can take that away from you.

Seamus_OReilly2 karma

Great job on all your success. It's inspiring, and well deserved. Wool was a great read.

hughhowey3 karma

Thank you.

Sirlag_2 karma

(Sorry If this was posted before, red siting from school)

Major fan of wool, read it (the omnibus) on a whim from a suggestion of a friend, I have 2 question.

1) What tips do you have for aspiring writers. 2) Any clues to what happens next in Silo 17 (I think, again, on my iPod at school redditing)

Thanks for doing this AMA, and best of luck for your future stories.

hughhowey9 karma

1) I'm going to do a blog post about this, since I'm getting it a lot these days. Check my website this weekend.

2) Yup. Bad things happen to silo 17. Worse things happen to silo 18.


rosythewench2 karma

Hi Mr. Howey!

My questions are: was there ever a moment in your writing career when you were really discouraged from continuing? If so, what helped you to overcome the discouragement?

I would also say that I loved the entire WOOL series, and look forward to reading more of your work in the future. Also, my little brother loved the books as well. I would like to thank you for taking the time to respond to an email that he sent you a couple of months ago (his name is Sam.) He was really, really, really excited that one of his favorite authors was kind enough to respond to that, so thank you for making his day!!!

hughhowey6 karma

I do get discouraged, actually. I only write because I love it, and there are times when I don't love it. Success is awesome and incredible, but it brings other less-fun things. I remind myself to power through and get back to the joy.

Tell Sam I said "hey."

grossly2 karma

Do you have a doomsday bunker? If so, how many floors?

hughhowey3 karma

Nope. I'm an optimist!

bmagna2 karma

Hey Hugh... A fellow KB'er here. First, a Huge (hehe) kudos on your success with the Wool series and the kinds of publishing arrangements you were able to negotiate. Inspiring stuff. I remember you posting a sobering thread a couple of months ago about the pressures of your recent success -- both inter- and intrapersonal. Just wondering how that's going now?

P.S. Don't stop rockin' the casbah :)

hughhowey4 karma

Dude. It's crushing. But I'm living the dream, right? Right?

MoosiAT2 karma

First things - huge fan of Wool and now the Shift Series =] Thanks for writing and making them available for download at an extremely cheap price. (hopefully the booze and whores will allow you to keep it that way ;) )

So, when can we have a Wool movie?

hughhowey5 karma

The quickest we'll have it is Spring 2014. The latest is never. I'm hoping for the former.

kathygnome2 karma

What are the best and worst places to look for advice on indie publishing?

hughhowey14 karma

That's a loaded question!

The best place is Kindle Boards Writers' Cafe.

The worst place is Absolute Write, but only because I've been permanently banned from that site, which means you can't find my advice there! ;)

(Ironically, I was banned for espousing a publishing philosophy that was derided as ridiculous and ended up playing out just as I predicted. The members jumped down my throat, treated me cruelly, and I was tossed out by a moderator who was the cruelest of them all. When a later member posted about this and linked to the thread in question, they too were given a "time out" and their posts were deleted. You want to be inspired to write some dystopian shit, hang out over there).

LateJuliet2 karma

Will we see Molly Fyde again?

I got started with WOOL (actually, stumbled across it when looking for books about knitting) and fell headfirst into your universe. WOOL, Molly Fyde, The Hurricane, The Plagiarist, and I, Zombie (which was the most terrifying zombie book I've ever read). Congrats on your success, and I look forward to reading more of your work.

hughhowey3 karma

Yes. Hopefully this year.

d0k74_j0n352 karma

Was self-publishing easier or harder than you assumed it would be?

hughhowey3 karma

Easier. Much.

knockoutking2 karma

What's next for Hugh Howey?

hughhowey2 karma

Kansas City. And then Chicago, Denver, LA, Seattle, Charlottesville, Charleston, Miami.

And then home. Before I go to Australia.

SentientPrimate2 karma

Are there any books on the craft of writing that you would recommend for new fiction writers?

hughhowey6 karma

Stephen King's ON WRITING is the best. And EATS, SHOOTS AND LEAVES to learn grammar. Those are my two bibles.

mrpenguin3542 karma

As an extremely successful independent publisher, how do you feel about the independent author taking on larger publishing houses? Do publishing groups have a place in the newer, digital landscape?

(also a big fan of your works! you signed two copies of I, Zombie for my roommate, but put the wrong name on one of them so I got to keep it :) )

hughhowey2 karma

I think we are making real change that's for the better for all writers. And for readers. This is a good revolution taking place.

Publishing groups will always be necessary.

Ha! I was wondering what happened to that book. :)

nuecliptic2 karma

No question, just wanted to say I loved Wool and the shift series! And I appreciate how you keep the cost of your books as low as you can. Makes it less of a financial drain on us readers and we know it's going for to a good cause!

hughhowey2 karma

Thanks so much for that.

banannasfoster2 karma

Hi Hugh! Your books are honestly some of the best I have ever read. I stumbled upon Wool and was so blown away that I recommended it to everyone I know.

My favorite of your writing is actually the Hurricane. You made me care about those characters in so few pages, I felt like I was really in that story.

My question: are any of your characters based on your personal life experiences? I would assume probably not so much in Wool or Molly Fyde, for obvious reasons... but maybe the Hurricane? The Plagiarist?

hughhowey4 karma


Yes, I base a lot of my writing from biographical experiences. I went through a hurricane almost exactly like the one in that book. And the Molly books were inspired from my yachting days. I, ZOMBIE is my most autobiographical, though.

Books_and_Boobs1 karma

Hi Hugh,

No question, just appreciation :)

I wanted to say thank you so much for writing books that not only had interesting characters and entertaining story lines, but books which were actually edited to a readable point! Drives me nuts when I purchase a book with ridiculous errors like "throne" in the place of "thrown".

You're awesome!

hughhowey2 karma

Heh. Thank my wife and mom when they do AMAs. They're the ones who keep my stuff clean.

Originally written as: Their the wons whom keep mine stuff clean.

TyrrTheWook1 karma

Since you are going to Kansas City, will you update this AMA with a picture of you flipping off Kemper Arena and the American Royal Building? If you have time. I spent two weeks of my life in November in those buildings, and I want them back.

hughhowey1 karma

HAHA!!! If I can work this out, I'll make it happen.

QuiteAffable1 karma

Not a question: My wife saved the WSJ article about your book for me because she knows I love sci-fi. I'm loving it so far, thanks!

hughhowey2 karma


Ipsae1 karma

Any plans of dropping by Singapore on your way to Australia? You have fans here too!

hughhowey1 karma

I would love that! I'd have to make a separate trip, though. They've got me filled up.

trstn1 karma

I just read wool, great concept really well delivered, looking forward to part two!

hughhowey1 karma


sansoucmatt1 karma

I know you must be incredibly busy on your book tour, but I have a new social book database website going live next week. Any chance you might be interested in doing a quick phone interview to post on the home page when it launches?

hughhowey3 karma

I would be able to do it in April. My publicist at S&S has me booked up with interviews this week and next. I'm typing this from the back of a car right now. Some previous responses were from baggage claim. You wouldn't believe my schedule if you saw it.

mauxly1 karma

Last year you suggested that aspiring writers join Kindle Boards, have a blog and various other things that could help writers hone their skills and gain exposure. Do you think there's any risk involved with that? Did you ever fear someone stealing your ideas before you had a chance to nail them down and formally publish under your own name?

hughhowey1 karma

I don't worry about people stealing my ideas. I'll write the books I want to write anyway. Ideas are cheap. What's expensive is the dedication to sit down and write an entire book. And if you have that dedication, why risk it by borrowing someone else's ideas?

I've had people claim that one of my books is a rip-off of a film. Except I've never seen the film! Ideas overlap and mimic without even trying. Don't worry about that stuff. Just write!

jtrenberth1 karma

Hey, thanks for doing this AMA! I just recently heard about Wool through Reddit and can't wait to read it!

I sometimes think that I would like to write, but then I don't know if I would like people seeing that intimately into my head... Do you ever have concerns about that?

Also, when I studied writing in college I always heard that writers feel an urge to write every single day and that to be a real writer you must write something every day. What is your writing schedule like? Do you feel the urge?

hughhowey3 karma

Yes. It's terrifying to put my work out there, especially as my readership grows. I don't have the mental armor that writing seems to require. I hope I never form it.

rusrslythatdumb71 karma

I don't have a question but I LOVED your books. I haven't quite finished First Shift yet, though.

hughhowey2 karma


hippocrane1 karma

Thanks for doing this, Hugh. I'm really looking forward to picking up a copy of Wool. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers/authors?

hughhowey1 karma

Write and publish. Repeat. Put your best work out there and enjoy your day job. Do it because you love it, not because you hope to get rich.

MisterReds1 karma

I absolutely loved WOOL! Thanks, Mr. Howey.

hughhowey1 karma

Thanks! And: You're welcome!

GreedoShotKennedy1 karma


Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod. If William Shakespeare, George Martin, and Mark Twain showed up to do author AMA's... well, I'd probably visit the Mark Twain one first, that was a bad example, but I'd stop here second!

Hugh (May I call you Hugh?), I can't thank you enough for the Wool series, and I can't bloody wait for Dust. I check your website out once or twice a week just to see if that progress bar has crawled any further toward completion. I've become a prophet of the Church of Howey, and have brought the word of The Order to many people! I've sat on a crowded subway and traveled fifteen stops past my station as I devoured the third book, vaguely aware that I'd gone too far, but too absorbed to glance up at the literal writing on the wall as I cruised through another station. I alarmed my girlfriend by sniffling and swiping at my eyes while reading in bed, desperately trying to maintain some macho facade in the face of a chest-bursting ache as I read about Solo.

I didn't think I really had any questions for you, but now that my half-awake ramblings have got this far, I do!

I downloaded a torrent of your Omnibus and Watch books, and have freely shared them with my friends and family. At least a dozen people have read them for free at my urging, and as far as I'm aware, the only people that have actually paid you for them are myself and one friend (Both of us retroactively after already having read them). Are we friends for introducing your work to a wider audience, or am I scum sucking up your hard work and barely seeing you get a pittance of what you deserve in return?

I yell at your characters a lot. I yelled at Bernard as his inflexibility hastened not only his own downfall, but that of those around him. I grit my teeth as I watched Jahns walk into traps that any politician in a real competitive climate would never have fallen for. I have a string of increasingly frantic text messages from my girlfriend who was reading at work, along the lines of "LUCAS NO. NO. LUCAS, DONT SAY IT. STOP. LUCAS YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!" How many of these tactical and strategic errors are you projecting on your characters, and how much of it is the natural limitation of an author? Juliette's poor engineering skills in her deep-dive repair operation make sense, but was she putting the ballast weights on the wrong points, or were you? It's easy to identify some, like Jimmy's deeply flawed logic paths, such as when he mentally berates the "overweight" woman he shoots, but others left me wondering!

I loved your books. I can't wait for more. I'm so glad that you chose to approach the career of writing like an attack, and I'm thrilled that likely means your volume of work will continue to grow quickly. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go start Molly Fyde, and pretend I'm not going to hit refresh on this every 30 seconds to see if I get an answer.

hughhowey3 karma

We are BEST FRIENDS for you introducing my work to people. I'm not against people pirating my books. It's no different than grabbing a book off a friend's shelf and reading it. If the story makes people happy, maybe they'll buy something else of mine. Or talk about the book. Or come to a reading. Or buy me a coffee.

RE: Character flaws. I think we make huge mistakes all the time that screw up our lives. My characters do the same.

Thanks for the kudos, man.

DonJunbar1 karma

I just ordered Wool a few days ago and now this... :-)

Can't wait to read based on what friends have said.

hughhowey1 karma

Go in with expectations low! There's no way this book deserves all the hype it's getting. It's just a fun story. It isn't Shakespeare.

Pyrostic1 karma

Congrats on the new in store copies Hugh! I hope you have great success with them. I never got to tell you the extense to which your books have changed my life. Just what Twitter would let me fit in.

I've had depression throughout my life but had never had any coping mechanism other than to shut others out. I've never been a reader, the outcomes of books often irritated me so in my adult life I had read a total of one book.

I picked up Wool Omnibus on Amazon on a whim to try and get into reading, my wife is a reader. I couldn't put it down, it helped show me how different and worse off life could be. I've had so many dreams where I'm right there beside your many characters loving and hating every one of them.

If you ever end up in Chicago for a fan meet up I'd like to buy you some coffee and personally thank you for the difference you've made in my quality of life.

My question: Who/what is your greatest inspiration for writing?

How do you pound out such good books in such little time/what jeeps you ticking?

hughhowey2 karma

My greatest inspiration for writing has been my mom, who isn't a writer. But she taught me to read and instilled a love for it. We do crosswords together all the time. We didn't always have money growing up, but we always had books. And now she helps edit mine!

whamp1 karma

Hi Hugh! You were an inspiration for me to start self publishing myself. My question is, as we don't have agents to shill for us, how would I go about getting a blurb for my book from someone like you?

hughhowey1 karma

Write a book that I can't put down after the first sentence. If I had more time, I would be reading more manuscripts and writing blurbs, but I'm buried right now. It's something I enjoy doing, I just need to get through my travels. :(

BubbaSmither1 karma

What was your inspiration for writing the WOOL books? Which is your favorite out of WOOL 1-5 and why?

hughhowey3 karma

My favorite is Wool 4 for the Shakespearian tie-in. My inspiration was 24 hour news. Can we know the world through a single screen? What if the bias is bad news? What does that do to hope?

mannkind1 karma

How does it feel to replace Neil Gaiman as my new favorite writer‽

IMHO you'll be among one of the great writers of our lifetime. Seriously... Wool; Shift; I, Zombie; The Walk Up Nameless Ridge; Halfway Home, etc. All. Amazing. And you're just getting started.

… now, enough of this AMA. Get back to Dust! I need my next fix! :)

hughhowey3 karma

How does it feel to be out of your flipping mind?!

C'mon. Gaiman is the best. Let me be your second favorite writer. Please.

pandodle1 karma

Hi Hugh, huge fan of the book. Wondering if you have a definite size of the silo in square meters or whatever?

hughhowey2 karma

I do. Someone did a schematic recently. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but every level is around 40 feet and the diameter is around 150 yards, I believe.

arnizach1 karma

I don't actually have a question. I just wanted to say the "Wool" was among the best books I read last year and I congratulate you sincerely on your success! Cannot wait to see the film!

hughhowey1 karma

You rock. Thanks for that.

obake841 karma

Hello Hugh! First time asking a question on an AMA here. I have a lot of creative fun ideas in my head and deeply want to put them on paper but every time I want to try and write I just let the distractions take me. In your last AMA you said you joined an active writers group and I wanted to know how you found one and how you knew it was worthwhile? I live in a major city so hopefully I can find one. Thanks for your answer and congratulation on all your success, may it continue!

hughhowey1 karma

Check your local papers and ask at the library. Many writing groups meet at libraries. The key is to set daily goals, not yearly goals. Write every single day, even if for half an hour. If you don't let up, you'll be surprised at your output and how you grow as a writer. Do it!

andyincolor1 karma

Absolutely love Wool, Shift & Hurricane…

[Possible Spoilers in Question] How soon will we know about the rest of the world of Wool/Shift? The line leading away from the Silos has me really excited for the next series.

Your story of self publishing to best selling is truly inspiring. Best of luck on all your current projects.

hughhowey3 karma

I'm hoping DUST will be ready in July. I wrote a killer scene on the plane today. Can't wait to get this out there!

jpwhitney1 karma

Dude, what were you doing in Houston?

hughhowey2 karma

Signing books! Giving a talk! Getting 5 hours of sleep in a hotel room!

Speaking-of-segues1 karma

I'm in the process of trying to write my first novel. I've never been published (except once about a poker tournament in the jewish news in australia).

I have a full time job, a one year old and another on the way. So time is very precious and I feel like I can only pump out maybe 2000 words a week and often I sit at the computer and instead of writing, surf the web because I don't have that feel ya know?

Apart from quitting reddit, do you have any advice for me? Baby 2 is due in June and I feel like if I don't get up to 50,000 words (up to 5,000 so far) by then I'm doomed for the next few years.

Also, can you tell me about your re-reading, editing, re-writing process. The thought of it is quite daunting.

Thanks for the AMA!

hughhowey3 karma

If you can put in 500 words a day, you'll write two novels every year. It's just about never skipping a day. I know it's hard with jobs and duties at home, but everyone has an hour they can steal, even if by getting up an hour early. I got up at 3 in the morning to write a lot of days. I was always up by 5 or 6. It's brutal, so you have to love it.

ilwolf1 karma


Do you know what your tipping point was?

hughhowey2 karma

I don't know that there has been one. It was a gradual rise from a hundred books one month to a thousand to 3,000 to 10,000 to 50,000. A very linear growth. It's just been word of mouth. People, for whatever reason, read this book and then share it with others.

m_01 karma

Hi Hugh, thanks for doing this AMA, a good friend of mien wants to become a writer. Any advice?

hughhowey2 karma

Yup. Because of the number of people asking this, I'm going to do a blog post. Stay tuned.

writerclaire1 karma

Hi Hugh! I'm a KB lurker and I love reading about your self-publishing journey. Of course I also love Wool too! I'm getting ready to self-publish for the first time after years of banging my head against the traditional publishing wall. What is the best piece of advice you could give someone like me who is just starting out? Thanks :)

hughhowey3 karma

My best advice is to love writing, enjoy your day job, and keep producing quality works. Every decision you make should be in the service of your readers. They are the gatekeepers. Everything else is secondary.

lcpd80011 karma

I just finished Wool two days ago and got my hardback copy signed in Houston yesterday; the signing and hearing you discuss the book was an amazing experience, and I looking forward to starting Shift.

My question is this: How has self publishing changed with all of the E-Reader programs and services out there? As someone with absolutely no knowledge of publishing, I'm curious, what are the pros and cons to it?

Thanks for the AMA and coming to Houston last night, and I'm going to start Shift now :)

hughhowey1 karma

Thanks for coming out to the reading!

This is a big topic. I'll come back to it when I get to my hotel. It might require a blog post.

njoyeverymoment0 karma

How did you come up with the title WOOL?

hughhowey3 karma

It's from having the wool pulled over your eyes. Also the scrub pads. And finally, the name of the project: World Order Operation 50 (Roman numeral for 50 is L).

rocket_wan0 karma

What's the Capital of Malaysia?

hughhowey2 karma

Malaysia City?

TropicalIsland0 karma

In the past couple days, you received a scathing email accusing you of "blatant manipulation of comments and blog posts" in response to negative criticism. You then turned around and posted the contents of that email, saying that it--a single email from a complete stranger--made you want to stop writing forever, which elicited an outpouring of support for you and demonization for the emailer. Do you see how your response proved the accusation of that email right?

hughhowey2 karma

I can only be myself, man. This isn't easy. I'm just a person, and I've always been perfectly transparent about my feelings and my life. If you're suggesting that I'm not allowed to turn to friends and family for support, I disagree. I didn't give the person's email address or link to a review. I just expressed my frustration to the only friends I have, which are my readers.