I’ve been following Hugh for a while now ever since I read the first Wool installment. To say he writes great prose would be an understatement. Hugh is one of those rare writers that can tell an incredibly evocative story in a way that pulls you right into the middle of it, arms flailing–you see, feel, and hear everything, page after page, and it gets addictive. So, much of his current success is due to his ability as a writer. But that is not the only reason. His work ethic plays an important role. He works hard and is constantly churning out stories. He interacts with his fans, embraces them, really, and goes to great lengths in keeping them satisfied–all the while staying grounded. People admire that about him, including me.
See, while he had written a few works before Wool, most notably his Molly Fyde series, it was the self-published success of Wool that drew the most attention. Fast forward to a year later and the film rights have been sold to Ridley Scott and Fox, and now the printing rights to Simon & Schuster, a big-6 publisher. Even this deal turned out to be unique as it focussed only on the printing rights. Hugh retained the e-book rights. Groundbreaking, indeed.
Which brings us to my reason for this entry. Hugh wrote a blog piece, aptly titled: My Advice to Aspiring Authors, and I love writing advice. I’m a staunch believer that one can never know enough, that as a writer we should constantly strive to improve, to hone our skill, and you can do that only through writing and reading and listening to other writers. You don’t have to accept all advice, but it makes sense to at least be open to it. That way you can keep what works for you. In this case I see Hugh’s advice as a standard operating procedure for all aspiring authors. It takes into consideration the current paradigm shift in publishing, and most importantly, the realities waiting for any wannabe writer. This advice, in my opinion, paves the way forward for writers who are serious about their future in this updated world of publishing. You’ll also find that some advice stays the same, no matter what.
Your manuscript wont change. This is the biggest logical fallacy I see in the self vs. trad debate. The idea seems to be that if you self-publish, somehow your manuscript drops in quality. It’s the same work. The words wont change because of perceived association with what else is out there. Querying an agent wont make your manuscript better. Self-publishing wont make it worse. It’s either a story that appeals to readers or it isn’t.
The stigma is gone. Self-publishing is the beginning. For many, it will be the end. The moment the stigma disappeared among traditional publishers (i.e. they began signing already published books to major deals) it meant the top-down approach to publishing flipped upside down. Think about it. Self-publishing used to mean the death of a book. Now, traditional publishing is the more likely death of a book. This is possibly the most important thing I’ll ever explain.
To sum up: The key to making it as a writer is to write a lot, write great stories, publish them yourself, spend more time writing, study the industry, act like a pro, network, be nice, invest in yourself and your craft, and be patient. If you can do all these things, you’ll earn some money. Maybe enough to pay a bill every month. Maybe enough to get out o debt. Maybe enough to quit your job. Thousands of writers are doing this, and we are welcoming all corners with open arms.
Read the rest here: My Advice to Aspiring Authors | Hugh Howey.