Hugh Howey’s name holds a certain degree of clout among fans of the written word — his “Wool” science fiction series caught major success when he published it through Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform and is being made into a movie by Ridley Scott.
We’ve spoken to him in the past about the weirdnesses associated with the present state of publishing, and Howey recently published a blog post that calls attention to the fact that half the authors in Amazon’s top ten sci-fi charts are self-published indie writers just like Howey. So few of them are conventionally successfully writers with conventional publishing momentum behind them.
Howey calls this a problem and outlines some ideas for how to improve the publishing industry. Here are a few points from his 13-point post that seem the most noteworthy, but be sure to check out his site for more detail.
“Every format, as soon as it’s available.”
The day that a book is released, the customer has the choice to buy it not only in hardback or paperback, but on his or her Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader of choice.
“Hardbacks come with free ebooks.”
If this idea became reality, it would change my perception of e-books overnight. E-book DRM has largely soured me on paid e-books that restrict my choices in how I read them. the the bundled sale of an “analog” hardback with a digital file helps tip the scales back towards a more agreeable arrangement.
“No more advertising.”
“Our money is going into editors and into acquiring new authors, not into merchandising dollars at bookstores and not into ads that don’t sell books,” writes Howey. “Readers are the only reviewers we care about.”
“Goodbye, New York City.”
The perception of New York City as publishing mainstay needs to change as well, says Howey. “More of our employees will be working from home. Business will be conducted much as it already is: by email. We’ll see our friends at all the major conventions. The money we save will go into higher royalties, which means our authors want to stick with us. When we get up to 50% of net, which is doable, that self-publishing royalty is no longer causing the leak it once was. Once again, we have our pick of every single manuscript out there. The other publishers are feasting on our crumbs.”