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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Independent author and amateur beefcake

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hugh Howey and the Q and A

Ok, so I'm stealing a bit of his Molly Fyde thunder with the blog post title.  (PS, if you've read Wool and liked/loved it, check out his other books, Molly Fyde in particular)

Wow, my last post was a new years resolution?!  Ok, I have to do better than that.

Yes, I'm still writing.

Yes, I'm still having an editor look at some of my stuff.  (Said editor is quite booked so I'm having to be patient.)

And...Yes, I'm still hoping to make this blog a regular thing. (Kinda embarrassing to get back on here after months away and find that there's comments I didn't know about. Yikes!)

Well, at least I have a good excuse to blog about.  A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Kobo Writing Life.  Hugh Howey was going to be in town and the first fifty people who responded to the email would have a chance to meet him, at their offices, and ask him a question.  I thought I was too late, the email had a time stamp from three hours earlier. (Who checks their email that often anymore?  Unless for work, the rest of us expect news from txts or FaceBook, I think.)

Luckily, I made the cut.
Lucky because I got to meet the man who's changing the way books are sold and read and marketed.  Over the last few years, since that first Kindle was released, the market has found itself in the middle of a paradigm shift, of sorts.  The readers and authors seem to understand that the game has changed but the publishers and some of the retailers are still sticking to what they think they understand, from decades of experience.

In comes a group of writers who have chosen to self publish, Hugh Howey being among them.  What's remarkable is that these authors are doing so well without the big publishers that when approached by one of the big guys, the authors JD Ward and even Hugh Howey have been able to either flat out say 'no', JD Ward, or dictate the terms and conditions of their publications, Hugh Howey has published with Simon and Schuster but retains the rights to his book, himself. 

I got the sense that this was a different experience, even for him.  Sitting down with fifty authors, either who had self published or were still trying to get published the traditional way, to answer questions.

The crowd itself, was quite mixed, I found.  I had thought it would be full of Hugh Howey fanatics, if such a thing exists, but found, from the questions, that many were more intrigued by how he's gotten to where he is, more than they were with his writing. (Most however, were obvious fans, pulling books out of their bags to be signed.)   And, I think those people were the only ones who left slightly disappointed.  Their questions focused on marketing and how he managed to become a 'name' within the industry.  His answer?  'I don't like to market myself.'  I'm sure they weren't expecting to hear an answer like that.

That could be argued, I'm sure.  Since being in Toronto, on Monday, he did a reading and took questions in a library, Tuesday he was speaking at a writers expo and then Wednesday he was talking with us, at the Kobo HQ.  What he meant, he responded after further prodding, was that he never mentioned he was a writer, when talking with people, that he never pushed himself out there, instead, he let things form naturally.  People were able to understand him, first, as a person, and then, later, when they found out he was an author, they were more prone to read his work due to their association with him as someone they liked. (Granted I'm paraphrasing here, the video of the event will make it's way online soon, Kobo recorded it and will post in on their website once it's edited.  Once they do, I will link to it here.)

From the sound of it, his family did most of the promoting for him.  His father even went so far as to get him signings at the local Starbucks.

He said that his first book, Molly Fyde, was written for the express purpose of having it be written.  He only ever wanted to get it out of his head and onto the page.  But the flood gates busted and everything else kept pouring out.  His only reason for not taking a break?  He's afraid that if he does he will lose that momentum.  That the words will stop coming to him.

And thus I think we get to the secret of his success.  Be kind, be friendly, be honest, write lots, use your support group, friends and family, and just keep doing what you feel you've been made to do.  The rest will come.

PS - his favorite work, that he's written, is 'I, Zombie'.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, very neat, Patrick.
    Keep going and find success.

    Ron B