By Story Star correspondent Elinor Rees
Self-published author, Hugh Howey, has sold his best selling e-book series, ‘Wool’, to Century, a division of The Random House Group.
The news comes after five publishers auctioned for the right to publish the sci-fi title but lost out to Century with Howey stating on his website that they “came through with the most compelling offer. They addressed every single concern I had with the domestic offers.”
‘Wool’ is set in a future where humans have to live underground as the air is too toxic for them to survive and has sold 140,000 e-book copies over six months.
This deal highlights the force that is the e-publishing industry and the successes it can bring for authors. E-publishing is allowing authors to write the books they want and at the pace want, ensuring that the finished story is the one that they are happiest with and want to share with the world. Howey’s reluctance to sign with the first publisher who made him an offer shows that he wants his story to remain the one he envisaged as much as possible, suggesting that the freedom that self publishing brings is a quality that is difficult to relent.
It is without doubt that a large part of what makes this author unique is the fact that he has got his story out there completely by himself and on his own terms. He has his own website, Twitter and Facebook accounts where he actively encourages his fans to interact with him, showing that he is not the reclusive author that we sometimes assume writers to be. His underground following has definitely contributed to his appeal as people respond well to someone who builds up their work and is not likely to be a flash in the pan star who just appeals to the masses.
There are already debates on his forums about what his loyal fans will call themselves before his books reach a mass audience and they get lost in the shuffle. That sense of identity that comes with self- publishing is crucial to a novel’s success as that is what gives it its edge; the fans and the community as well as the story itself.
E.L. James, author of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has had similar success with her e-book now being sold across the globe as physical copies. This is also seen as a book with an edge due to its heavy eroticism and so it may seem that for books that are not considered to have enough mainstream content, self-publishing may be the best way for them to get their books in to the public domain. The association of independence and of being different that these books then gain only add to their appeal if and when they eventually become physical books.
Self-publishing gives freedom above all else and as this new way of publishing increases so will the amount of novels being released for people to read. The more unusual and genre-defying a book is the less likely a publisher is going to be able to market it but if the author can self-publish and create their own following then it is very possible that publishers will sit up and pay attention.