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Self or traditional publishing? Important insights from hybrid publisher Hugh Howey

Self or traditional publishing?

It’s the big question most writers are considering no matter what point they’re at in their writing. Writers have more options than ever with all the changes in publishing in the past five years.

As I’ve been learning about the paths to publishing, I’ve been struck by insights from hybrid author Hugh Howey that you might find helpful as you build your writing career. Howey is known for his popular series Wool, which he independently published with great success through’s Kindle Direct Publishing system. Wool – Part One is currently available for free.

In 2012, Twentieth Century Fox bought the film rights to Wool, and Howey signed a deal with Simon and Schuster to distribute Wool to book retailers across the U.S. and Canada. The deal allowed Howey to continue to sell the book online exclusively. He turned down seven-figure offers and instead opted for a mid six-figure deal in order to retain e-book rights.

In a blog post by Porter Anderson on Publishing Perspectives yesterday, Anderson asked Howey to offer advice for self publishers. Here’s one piece of it:

1. Asking people to buy your book doesn’t work. Instead, try to entertain or enlighten with your Facebook posts and tweets.

For the whole list, read Anderson’s post, Top 10 Counterintuitive Tips for Self Publishers.

I was also inspired by Howey’s post The Work is the Work. The Path is the Path on his own blog. Howey says:

“We fear self-publishing because of the stigma, but it is rapidly fading. We fear it because there are so many bad books out there, but those aren’t your books.”

Two lessons stand out about the path Howey has been on:

1. Regardless about which route you take to publish, it’s about the reader. He goes to great lengths to interact with them at conferences and through his blog. Form connections with your readers, share excerpts of your books, and offer free e-books to give them a taste of your writing.

2. Write — and revise — to create the best book you can. It doesn’t matter how you publish, the manuscript must be polished. Join a writer’s group, find beta readers, and revise and edit again.

Read Howey’s call to arms for everyone in publishing to focus on the reader.


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