Self-publication continues to be a road to success for authors, especially genre authors. Of course, last year’s success of 50 Shades of Grey is the ultimate example, but authors like Amanda Hocking, Lisa Genova and Brunonia Barry are among those who have been discovered and signed for big money by traditional publishers after first self-publishing their work. Still, the phenomenon is sufficiently rare to count as a news story—it’s a desire path, not a four-lane highway.
The latest author in this mold is 37-year-old Hugh Howey, whose dystopian sci-fi novel Wool was first published as a series of e-novellas on the Kindle platform. As buzz built, the project attracted the attention of agent Kristin Nelson, who signed Howey, sold the book in 24 countries and accepted an offer for the film rights from 20th Century Fox (Ridley Scott will direct). In an intriguing twist, the pair held out on accepting a print deal in order to allow Howey to retain rights to digital distribution, and finally reached an agreement with Simon & Schuster that is rumored to be in the high six figures. S&S is publishing Wool in hardcover and trade paper edition simultaneously—meanwhile, Howey is still selling the book and its sequels in installments on his site. Perhaps setting a precedent for the future?
Our sci-fi reviewer Michael Burgin found Wool completely original and totally worth the hype—a book that “reminds the reader how fulfilling a steady diet of small surprises, deftly delivered, can be.” Check out his full review here.