Books

A Little Inspiration from Wool by @HughHowey

Wool Omnibus is the first in the Silo Series and is an indie phenomenon. Read the second, ShiftThe third, Dust, is available for pre-order.

WoolThis is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside. 

Wool is an adult science fiction/dystopian novel. If you only read YA in this genre, you’re really missing out. From the very first line, I couldn’t put the thing down. There’s a reason why this book is a phenomenon.

I’m not going to fill you in on everything I loved about it, from the characters to the silos the characters live in underground to all the engineering details. Instead, I’m going to focus on the one thing Wool did “wrong” and why it should encourage you as a self-publisher. Don’t worry, it’s inspirational.

One of the biggest rules in writing is to stick with your point-of-view (POV) main character. Readers first bond with whoever they’re first introduced to and do not do well when the person whose head they’ve been in suddenly leave. You risk losing the reader.

This does not include having more than one POV character. Even though you switch heads, it’s only for a period of time before you return to the original POV.

Wool breaks this rule. We are introduced to two POV main characters before settling on the third for the remainder of the book. This is a huge risk from a writing standpoint because not only do you risk losing the reader the first time you switch but the second time as well.

Why does this concern you?

The reason Howey structured the book like this is because Wool wasn’t originally a novel. Wool was a series of five self-published e-novelles. Each of the first two POV characters had their own standalone e-novellas. (So, technically, Howey didn’t break the writing rule at all . . .)

And the e-novellas sold. And sold. And sold. And sold.

Howey then compiled the five e-novellas into one book called the Wool Omnibus. And it continued to sell. And sell. And sell.

Until publishing houses called him asking to publish it.

And he turned them down. Why did he need a publishing house? He was publishing and selling just fine on his own. For most self-publishers, this is their dream. To stand on their feet with the big boys and really compete. Howey did. He won (enter inspirational music).

Then Kristen Nelson (the same agent who represents Marie Lu’s Legend, Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls, and more) phoned him with this offer: He keeps all ebook rights/sales and the publishers produce only paper copies. The first offer of this kind. Ever.

If self-publishing is your dream, don’t give up on it because you’re intimated by being in the ring with publishing houses. Granted, stories like Howey’s are rare, but they have been done. Maybe it takes some thinking outside the box like his e-novellas first did. But you can do it. We believe in you.

If your dream is to write a story that’ll take people’s breath away, keep writing. Don’t be afraid to break the rules and see what happens. We believe in you, too.

If your dream is to read a fantastic book with an inspirational backstory, then you know what book to pick up next.

Check out Howey’s blog here.
Follow Howey on Twitter here.
Friend Howey on Facebook here.

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