What Your Support Means To Indie Authors

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Authors have many different reasons for taking the self-publishing route. Maybe they’ve tried traditional publishing but got rejected. Maybe they didn’t get rejected but realized the possibilities present in self-publishing that might not be there from traditional publishers (percentage of profits). Maybe the authors simply want a way to share their work without having to go through the long process of submitting and having it sit at the gatekeepers desk for months or years.

No matter what your opinion of self-publishing, I think we can all admit that there is some seriously good work out there from the indie author scene. If you don’t think so, then you likely haven’t bought any indie work. As I’ve said before, there are many pieces of bad work out there, but who cares? Just like in music and movies, there will always be less than par work that gets into the mix. It honestly doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t make my work look worse. If an author spends the time and puts forth a professional effort, as we have advocated, then the work will stand out. Many self-published authors take the time to do it the right way. I know that there are still some of you who will argue that unless a traditional publisher has vetted the work then it can never be as good. Fine. I promise that you are missing work that is often of higher quality than what is on the shelves of your chain book stores.

So, what should we do when we find work that is fantastic come out of the indie author realm? Well, we owe it to the author, and to ourselves, to let as many people know as we can. I’m talking, Tweet about it, Facebook about it, and tell your friends. Most importantly – LEAVE A REVIEW!

As I was reading some indie work yesterday, my main thought was about how much of a difference we can make in each others lives. 99% of self-published authors are nearly broke, but took the time to get their work out to the rest of us. It means something to the author, and if we find that it means something to us, we can truly make a difference in that author’s life. Let me do a little story and some math for you. Now, this may seem like I’m only writing this to make profits for indie authors. I’m not. I want you to know what a difference your support can make (because often, other indies don’t support self-pubbers).

Let’s say Ralph (nobody in particular) puts out his science fiction self-published book. If it had been printed, it would run about 300 pages, the normal size for a science fiction book at the local store. Ralph has two kids, a wife, and works 50 hours a week to support his family, but has always had a passion for writing science fiction. He decided to take the plunge and write a book. He writes it, re-writes it, gets it professionally edited, re-writes it, gets a professional cover done, gets it just right for Kindle (or other platform) and finally hits the publish button. Any of that sound familiar to anyone out there? He took the right steps to give us his story.

We buy Ralph’s book for $2.99, less than a gallon of gas or a cup of coffee. We start reading it and quickly realize that, dang, this Ralph guy has written a really good book! Upon realizing this, we should now have a responsibility to Ralph, particularly because he is an indie author. When we finish it, we need to review it. It needs to be a quality review. Something more than “Awesome book.” Write a paragraph encouraging others to buy Ralph’s book. Send out a link to Ralph’s book on your Twitter and Facebook pages. Even if only one or two of your friends pick up a copy, that is still a few extra dollars for Ralph. Let’s say that twenty people pick up Ralph’s book on day one and Ralph gets about $2.05 per copy sold.

20 x 2.05 = $41 – Ralph can take his family our for dinner or pay more on his credit card.

Now let’s say that each of those 20 buyers gets one more person to buy Ralph’s book. Now he has sold 40 copies.

40 x 2.05 = $82 – Ralph starts to feel good about his work and starts a second book, as well as pays down some more debt.

Now let’s say that some reviews start to give his book a boost and all the previous buyers get one more person to buy Ralph’s book. Maybe Ralph gets up to 250 copies sold

250 x 2.05 = $512.5 – Ralph used this to make his car payment, allowing him to possibly spend some more time with his family instead of at work.

How many of you would have your lives transformed just by having an extra $500 or so? All of us.

Most indie authors aren’t looking to become rich. They are looking for just a little extra to help out around the house. There are so many ways for people to make a difference in the world. In fact, because there are so many ways, many people get overwhelmed and do nothing. Instead, let’s play to our strengths – writing and communicating. We are in the indie author scene! Let’s use it and make a difference for our friends and fellow authors. 

When we find great indie work, we CAN absolutely ensure that the author gets that little extra to help them out. Imagine if Ralph’s book hit one of Amazon’s best seller charts for a day because of your help and he sold 2,000 copies. Suddenly he can take a vacation. You helped Ralph take a vacation and all it cost you was $2.99 and some tweets. The indie author scene can be transformed by all of us taking simple steps and recognizing quality work. We may not all be the next Hugh Howey, but dangit, we can still make a difference around the house. Take care.

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Your Indie Author Mission Statement

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The Stigma of Self-Publishing – An Indie Problem

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Indie authors are dirty, sloppy, and worthless. Their covers are crappy and you should just look at their writing skills – makes you wince even thinking about it. Character development? Self-publishers have no clue. Their work does not deserve to be displayed anywhere near the work that has been vetted and edited by actual publishers.

Anyone who has followed me for any length of time probably just had a heart attack. You know that I clearly don’t feel that way about self-publishers. My first book will be out in a month or so and it will be self-published. 

I’m proud of it. Not because it’s fantastic (that’s for you to decide), but because I actually got a book written. Not only did I get it written, but I am following the right steps towards getting it published. I pounded out a first draft and then took my time completing a second draft. I printed multiple hard copies of that second draft and gave it out for editing from serious professionals that I have networked with for years around my area. They are marking it up now and I will get those copies back soon. I will then complete a third draft and get some of my gracious beta readers to give it a test drive. In the mean time, I have contacted a great friend and spectacular artist that I know to begin work on my cover. She has an MFA from the University of SC and our creative visions are similar. I know that I will get what I want from her and more.

The stigma that surrounds self-publishers is not going to go away any time soon. No matter how many success stories come out of the indie author circle, it seems that so many people refuse to pick up an indie book. They are convinced that nothing good can come from anyone that didn’t go through a traditional publisher. I just read a review of Hugh Howey’s Wool that I think was tainted by the reviewer’s disdain of self-publishing. I honestly wondered if we had read the same book, because I loved the book.

Like it or not, many of the problems are on the shoulders of snobby self-publishers. You know who they are, so don’t pretend you to have no clue. They put their work out well before it is ready. I’m not talking about having a bad story, that can happen to published authors (come on, sometimes Stephen King’s stories need a little help). I’m talking about work that an author might have let their spouse read and that’s it. Right, your spouse if going to tell you the truth…

I’m talking about the indie authors that never had to write a single paper in college, if they even had a college class. There is nothing wrong with that. Heck, some high schoolers are successful self-publishers now, but guess what? Someone helped them! Someone looked over their work and took a big red pen to almost EVERYTHING. I’m talking about the ones that are published and then given reviews from friends and family as the rest of us look at it and say, “Sure, we self-pub to avoid the almighty gatekeepers and slush piles, but damn, that piece of writing is really not good.”

Professionalism and Discipline

Just because we self-publish and call ourselves indies does not give us the right to skip vital parts of the publishing process. Professionalism and discipline has to be our mantra. Sure, write a sloppy first draft. Write a sloppy, if somewhat better, second draft. Then give it to someone smarter than you. Give it to many people that are smarter than you (preferably with some editing experience). Give them free reign to rip it apart. Let them know that your feelings won’t be hurt. Get those copies back, cry a little, then pound out another draft. Then, if you think you need it, get a good group of beta readers. There are many people willing to trade work back and forth online. All you have to do it network and be nice in the right circles online to find them. Please don’t skip the cover. It has to be professional to be taken seriously. I’m getting someone with a master’s degree in fine art to work on mine. It doesn’t get more professional than that. The cover will be the thing people see first, so make sure it is great!

Does it all sound hard? Of course it does. Is it a ton of steps to take? YES. It does take serious discipline to take the professional route, but it has to be done. You took the time to put your awesome ideas down on paper, so treat them with respect. If you don’t, the readers will respond accordingly.

This is the only way to rid ourselves of the stigma surrounding indie authors. We have to become our own gatekeepers. Just because we chose to not take the traditional route does not mean we get to skimp on our work, and that is unfortunately what has happened to much of it. Sure, there will always be bad work out there. We will never be able to fix that. In fact, I don’t want to fix it because it shows the freedom that we have as authors. But, with some hard work and serious perseverance, we can get the good work to rise to the top. We can break even more indie authors out into the world. We have great stories to share so let’s make sure they don’t drown in laziness and complacency.  

**I know some of you will take offense at me saying college is necessary for good writing. I know it isn’t. I will say this – college and grad school forced me to really analyze my writing and ensure that what I wrote was quality work. It also made me realize that everyone does indeed need someone to read over their work.

Why Indies HAVE to Read and Review Self-Published Work

Karma

If you’ve self published, you know that the hardest part of the process is certainly not writing the book. In fact, writing it is the enjoyable part. Marketing it is the bane of indie author existence. After all, you’re authors, not professional marketers. Most self-published authors certainly aren’t rich and definitely can’t finance a marketing campaign, but we all know that without people finding out about your writing, simply hitting the ‘publish’ button online won’t mean a thing. You could have a work of art. You may have written the next Harry Potter series, but if nobody reads it, you’re done. Your work gets buried in the glut of other books. It will be hidden in between the work by a ninth grader and some fitness book that your thousand pound yoga instructor wrote.

That is where other self-published authors come in. Since trying to merge into the scene, I have met some incredibly great people that read, review, and share other people’s work when it comes out. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. It takes more than simply spamming my Twitter with yours or somebody else’s work (more than 10 spams an hour gets an unfollow). It takes a commitment on the part of all of us. I would like to think of the indie author scene as a group of colleagues. We can be the gatekeepers of the self-published world.

The first step is actually buying other colleagues work. Come on, will $2.99 really kill you? You spend more than that in gas to get in your car to go to the store. It will certainly make the day of the author when they see the sale. Second, if you like the work, review it and let everyone else know why you liked it. A book won’t sell without reviews, and we have to review each others work. Karma. Don’t expect your book to get read and reviewed if you snob it into the digital without bothering to help others out along the way. If you don’t like a book you’ve read, simply don’t leave a review. I know this is controversial, but guess what, someone outside of the self-published world will leave a bad review. As colleagues, we don’t need to hurt each others sales figured by posting bad reviews in public forums. My take on this is a key leadership principle – praise in public, criticize in private.

My personal goal is going to be to read and review one self-published book a week. If I like it, I’ll make sure to let everyone know. I’ll tell them on Twitter, Facebook, and I’ll post the review here on my blog. If I don’t like it, well, then I’ll let it slip quietly into the Delta Quadrant (maybe the crew of Voyager can check it out). We need to leave the bad reviews to the professionals, which most of us aren’t. The thing is, once we see good reviews, we should take the time to buy the book. Again, as Hugh Howey would say, they cost less than a cup of coffee. Anyone willing to put serious work into writing an entire book deserves at least that much. I have not published my own book yet, but when I do, I hope people take time to do the same. Take care!

Why Do You Self-Publish?

I mean, I already know the generic answer to that question. People self-publish to escape the evil twenty-something gatekeepers that hate their work, even though the work is fantastic. They self-publish because they don’t want to go through the many rounds of rejection, many times because what they are writing ‘is not currently selling.’ Of course, one of the main reasons to self-publish is for an author’s creativity to remain intact, which they often see as one of the things that publishers suck away.

My reason for pursuing the self-publishing path is pretty simple. I like immediate results and I want a bigger percentage of the money. I also think that, with the internet, everyone has a right to have their stuff read. Sometimes people’s work is not that great, but there is an easy way to handle that – don’t buy it.

Don’t take this to mean that I am going to cut corners. I know the importance of good writing, solid and complete editing, and sound cover designs. I understand that it is easy to spot the self-published authors that really don’t have a firm grasp on plot and character development. Heck, I might not be that good at it either, but I sure as heck will work hard to improve. And again, it seems like a better deal to keep more of your money. Why should good authors be forced to take such a small percentage of the profit?

What I really want to know from other self-published authors is this – what do you hope to realistically gain financially from self-publishing? I know that’s a personal question, but it seems like such a tall order to do well in the current market. The market is filled with good work. Sometimes that good work makes it big. Hugh Howey certainly did with Wool. Heck, even bad writing can make it big if it involved sex. I saw shirts based on Fifty Shades of Grey the other day at the bookstore (unfortunately it was next to the kid’s section of the store).

How about you? Do all self-published authors get into it seeing dollar signs? Or do you do it just because you have some extra time and want to share your work with the world?

For the sake of all self-publishers, I wish more semi-successful indie authors would speak up with some of their incomes figures from books sales. I know how personal finances are to most people, but it sure would be nice for others to know that there are some serious success stories out there. I’m not talking about the ones selling thousand upon thousand of copies. I’m talking about the authors that can pay their bills from their self-published work. The ones that aren’t rich, but can now go out to eat without worrying about blowing their budget. Where are you? I know you’re out there. We want to hear from you.

I have my own reasons for going the self-published route, and I will discuss that further in another blog post in about a month or so. It’s two-fold and deserves more than a sentence here. Take care!

Why is Dystopian Sci-Fi so Popular?

1984

Farenheit 451

Brave New World

What do those books have in common? Well, any true readers knows that they are some of the most popular works of fiction in the last century. More specifically, they are some of the best dystopian works penned in the last 100 years. Many of us were introduced to those books in high school, though I doubt we truly understood the underlying meanings hidden in the books. Reading them now is chilling. I know many people that read 1984 and start putting things together. They finish the book convinced Big Brother is staring at their forehead. To tell you the truth, with the debate boiling over the use of drones in the US, who knows where we’ll be in another 50-100 years.

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Crazy conspiracies aside, you have to wonder why dystopian books and movies are so popular. There are different types of dystopian fiction. Some of them revolve around some alternate governmental society that is inevitably controlling every aspect of society. When I think about this type, I always think of V for Vendetta. It was an amazing graphic novel and translated perfectly into a movie. Aeon Flux is another example. The Hunger Games is one of the latest of this type of dystopia to make it big, and it introduced the genre to a whole new generation. The recent self-published success story, Wool by Hugh Howey, would translate into a fascinating film or TV series.

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Another type is apocalyptic dystopia. Who doesn’t watch the Walking Dead? That’s the ultimate example of this type of dystopia. Revolution is another.  There is really no shortage of apocalyptic dystopia fiction out there in both written and film formats. They are certainly not new, but there sure have been a bunch of them lately. It seems like the more our own government gets tangled in a political wasteland, the more apocalyptic fiction pops up. 

What does the popularity of dystopian fiction say about us as a people? Well, we love the idea of rebellion and destruction. When we watch an alternate reality government controlling its people, we draw lines to our reality and say, “Look, that’s what is happening to us. If we don’t stop it now, we’ll end up just like them.” Then we love to watch or read about how the people, us, rise up and overthrow their government. We know we can’t do that ourselves, so we do it vicariously through the fictional characters. Sure, it’s not real, but for a little while it sure does make us feel better.

As for zombies and apocalyptic destruction, there is another reason our love affair with those things. This one is simple. Many of us feels like we could survive and that we would be better off. They even have shows of people preparing for any scenario, aptly named Doomsday Preppers. Not only do we think we could survive, but we want to happen. It would be a fresh start, putting everyone on an even playing field (the survivors anyway). With society being so unequal nowadays, it really says something that people would actually want to usher in a doomsday scenario. It is borderline desperation. Let’s face it, once the economy collapsed, many people would have killed to have zombies marching down the street. Heck, if they had our movie and TV skills back in 1929, I can guarantee there would have been some doomsday works of fiction all over the place. If you think about it, one of the factors that drew the US out of the depression was a real apocalyptic scenario called WWII. 

Our fascination with dystopia is here to stay. It’s been around for quite a while, and until we create the perfect society (Plato, where are you?), it will always be around. Heck, it really is fun to let your imagination run away with different scenarios of rebellion and mayhem. We create fiction for entertainment, and I just happen to like this type more than many others. 

Publishing – The latest medium to succumb to the internet?

Self-publishing has taken off thanks to the ease brought forth by Amazon, Smashwords, PubIt, LuLu, etc. Of course, the rise in eReaders has certainly helped. Just wait until everything is digital (I love my regular books, but I am also a realist). Unfortunately, there are many (and I mean MANY) people out there that refuse to buy anything self-published. Some of that is the individual authors faults (errors and snobbery) but most of it has to do with simple tradition. People have always bought their books from traditional publishers and they just simply don’t know of the other routes.

I remember when I downloaded my first illegal music file. It was 1999 and it came from a thing called Napster. I thought it was the coolest thing! I didn’t have to buy anymore CDs. I didn’t really think about how bad it screwed the artists over. Now I do, but I also know that the music industry had to adjust. The big labels and musicians didn’t go down without a fight either. They whined and moaned and told us that their way was the best because they knew what they were doing. They sued and sued. In fact, they won most of their cases. Unfortunately for them, they were fighting a new era brought on by the internet. Nobody could stop the digital world of sharing. So, instead of trying to stop it, they eventually came around and adjusted. Sure, people still download illegally, but with iTunes and Google Music offering better solutions for all involved, everyone came out on top. The artists get paid and we get our music for a relatively cheap price.

I know it is not exactly the same, but I equate the music situation with the publishing situation. Self-publishers are the ones downloading the free music and crashing the party of the major labels. They are breaking into their profits (supposedly) and not playing on their established field. So, how are the publishers responding? Slowly and not happily.

One of the main arguments coming from “real” authors is that self-publishing waters down their work. Yeah, I guess they have beef, but can they really stop it? Nope. There is absolutely no way they can stop self-publishing. They know that deep down, and we have seen them work to adjust to that reality. They are now picking off the best self-publishers. You know the biggies, but some examples are Fifty Shades of Grey and of course, a great indie success story, Wool by Hugh Howey.

I see it as a good thing, and not just because I’ll be self-publishing soon. Sure, we have some kinks to work out, but it offers everyone freedom. First, it give the authors a chance to be found. Let’s face it, publishers really do miss some good work. They are not book gods. Often, an authors hard work is left in the hands of an intern who’s job it is to decide whether a piece of work is worthy or not. I know, they have a lot to do, but now, the public can be the gatekeepers. They can decide what is good or not. Very American, huh?

In the end, and if they play their cards right, publishers can get in on this. They can almost let the public do their job for them in scouting good work, pluck off the indie authors with good deals, and publish them. Sure, the power shifts to the author more than ever, but I like that. Power at the top sucks no matter what you are talking about. 

Can you be successful without a young adult audience?

Think about the latest science fiction/fantasy to really take off. What has been the most popular in the last year or so? The following are what come to mind for me-

Hunger Games – dystopian sci-fi

Twilight – vampire fantasy

The Avengers/All Marvel – comics/sci-fi

Percy Jackson series – fantasy

What do those things have in common? None would be nearly as popular without the young adult audiences. Sure, a few would hold up without the young girls and boys to fuel them, but they would not be nearly as successful. So, what does that mean for prospective science fiction authors?

Well, I think they need to seriously consider who their audience is going to be. Of course, they already do that. When writing a book or short story, an author is always conscious of who will be reading their material. Some set out from the beginning as young adult authors, some do not. An author will tone their book to the intended audience. Foul language and sexual descriptions are likely to be left out of books geared towards younger audiences.

Pandering to both young adult and adult audiences is hard. Many people I know won’t go near the young adult/teen section of a book store or Kindle store. Why? Not really sure. Maybe it’s psychological. Maybe they think they are less of an adult if they pick them up. Some adult sci-fi readers just prefer adult stories. As a writer, I love reading young adult books books. My reading mind has never really left childhood anyway. Heck, I’ll pick up Dr. Seuss if it helps my creativity. I read the Hunger Games and Percy Jackson books very quickly. The thing about well written young adult books is this – sure, on the surface they have kids in them, but the things those kids are dealing with are pure adult situations. They teach acceptance, responsibility, courage, and leadership. Those lessons are great for youth, but even better for a forgetful adult generation.

Can an author hit both audiences? Many have. They are the ones that have been most successful so far. To do this, the author can’t make it seem like a young adult book at all. I think it has to be an adult book that has some aspect in it that young adult audiences will respond to. Having a young adult being a main character in the book is a good way to do this, though I know how hard it is to integrate kids into an adult plot while ensuring they remain a vital character that can be taken seriously.

I guess success in science fiction is measured based on the needs and wants of the individual author. Some have no interest in catering to the young adult audience. Those authors should also be prepared to not reap the success that can happen if the younger ones go crazy over something (a la Bieber, One Direction, Hunger Games, etc). They bring a new meaning to viral. Of course, Stephen King and others manage to do well all on their own. Us indies have seen Hugh Howey explode to success without many young adult readers. So, it is possible, just harder.

I can’t wait to see how the new movie After Earth does in theaters. Sure, its a movie, but it can be a good case study. Will Smith, a favorite among almost all age groups, stars along side his son, Jaden Smith. Jaden is fourteen and will attract the younger audiences even though the plot and trailer make it seem to be a completely serious film (meaning, not geared towards younger audiences). It looks like the movie will revolve around those two, so it should be interesting.

Will Smith                                                            jaden-smith-300

After Earth trailer here!

“THE NEXT BIG THING” AWARD

Thank you so much to Ellie Carstens for this nomination!

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WHAT IS THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK?

Journey of the Kings

WHAT GENRE DOES YOUR BOOK FALL UNDER?

Science Fiction/Thriller – great for sci-fi nuts and young adult/new adult audiences

WHAT IS THE ONE SENTENCE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR BOOK?

A story of redemption for a father as he and his son discover a deadly betrayal.

WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR BOOK?

Honestly, I have recently been engrossed in James Bond books and the Ender’s Game series. This book blends the two with ideas that are very personal to me.

WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?

Hugh Howey is a huge inspiration for me. I’ve had these ideas in my head for a while but I always figured that I would never get through a publisher. Now I’m going to try my best with self-publishing.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE FIRST DRAFT OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT?

First draft took me 18 days to get completed. The other drafts….well, I’ll let ya know.

WHAT OTHER BOOKS WOULD YOU COMPARE THIS STORY WITH IN YOUR GENRE?

Ender’s Game and Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card and Colony by Scott Reeves

WHAT ACTORS WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY  YOUR CHARACTERS IN A MOVIE RENDITION?

Seth Morning – Chris Pine     Seth 1

Benjamin Allen – Aramis Knight     Aramis-Knight_406

WILL YOU BOOK BE SELF-PUBLISHED OR REPRESENTED BY AN AGENCY?

Self-published

WHAT ELSE ABOUT YOUR BOOK MIGHT PIQUE YOUR READERS’ INTEREST?

This is a story about space colonization, but with a much more personal arc. The main character is battling decisions he made many years prior to the book and much of that has to do with his son, who is on the journey with him. The story is a thriller on the outside, but one of forgiveness and redemption on the inside.

MY NOMINATIONS ARE…

I don’t have a huge indie author base of friends yet, but here are a few.

David Eccles, my new friend from overseas.

Jaclyn Lyons

Science Fiction is Screwed

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I love science fiction. Seriously, even bad science fiction. I love it so much that I’ve decided to publish my own science fiction book (lol, we’ll see). Lately though, I have been thinking about how screwed modern science fiction creators are.

Star Wars gave birth to the modern science fiction era. I know, Star Trek came first by more than a decade, but it lost its popularity and didn’t become mainstream until Star Wars smashed the world with its dominance. Then we had these two major star epics, able to maintain themselves despite one another because of their differences. They both created and maintain HUGE fan bases. I’m a big fan of both (say whaaaat? That’s not legal).

So I walk up and down the science fiction sections of my local chain book stores and I see huge sections dedicated to Star Wars and Star Trek. Their popularity is not going away. With the rebooting of Trek and the upcoming Star Wars movies, they will probably gain new, younger fans. They have both entrenched themselves as science fiction kings (and they both somehow managed to get the same king to direct them – J.J. Abrams).

So where does that leave the rest of the science fiction world? Screwed. Nothing has reached the popularity of those two giants, and I doubt anything will. The best anyone else can do is hope to avoid comparison to one or the other. Unfortunately, almost all space science fiction will draw those comparisons. It takes something truly different to break out in science fiction, and even then, it is tough.

I love Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series and the movie based on it is coming out on November 1st (barring any controversial holdup). Unfortunately, it is going to suffer comparisons to the star greats. It will also be compared to Hunger Games. Speaking of Hunger Games it seems like that Suzanne Collins hit the right trend in sci-fi.

It seems like dystopian sci-fi is what is really working now. Maybe that’s because so many people are unhappy with the current state of global affairs. It sure does sell books! Of course this is nothing new. I loved 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. Those books were great successes, but really only as books. Maybe we’ll see some of them become movies soon, but that seems to be where books like the Hunger Games come in. They have capitalized on dystopian sci-fi.

Hugh Howey’s Wool is an awesome work of science fiction and I could connect with it. I also never thought of comparing in to the major sci-fi greats because it is so different. Again, it is a dystopian sci-fi adventure, so it is getting in on the current trend.

So, when I say science fiction is screwed, I really mean space-based sci-fi. The kings of that genre are already in place and anyone that wants success will really have to lower the bar of what they consider a win. Successful sci-fi will have to reinvent itself.

For the record, my sci-fi thriller is on Earth, then space, then back into a dystopian-like Earth. Maybe I’ll get lucky.

My Review of “Wool” by Hugh Howey

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I’ll be honest with you, I was wary about picking up Wool. I had read about Hugh Howey and his unconventional path to success. I had read about him because I wanted to be him. I still do. I needed someone to look up to as a broke out of technical academic writing and moved into what I always wanted to do – science fiction.

I was wary because I, along with so many other people, had been told that unless a book goes through the traditional publishing route, it won’t be good. We have always just assumed that books on the shelf at the bookstore had to be the best the writing world had to offer because they know what good writing looks like. While its true that many self-published books lack polish and, sometimes, grammar basics, there is some serious talent in the writing world that gets missed because the gatekeepers didn’t like it. Thanks to Wool by Hugh Howey, I have found a respect for all routes of publishing. It gives me so much hope for the stories that don’t get told.

I found Wool on the bookshelf of my local book store a few days before its official release. I was in the bookstore writing my own book and had just finished scouring Hugh Howey’s blog for idea about how to make it work. Then is dawned on me – how could I possibly hope to have success in the indie author world if I hadn’t read many of their book. So, I picked up Wool and went home.

Now, before you read the official review portion below, I want you to know that I’m striving not to have any spoilers included. Because of that, if you haven’t read the book and have only looked at the reviews, I’m going to sound like a twelve year old girl because of the emotions the book invoked in me. You’ll understand if you read it and then I’ll challenge you not to sound like one as well as you explain it.

Opening the book with caution, I read the first two pages and stopped. I literally stopped to say, “Wow, this is really gonna be good.” Howey has the ability to convey the mood of a particular setting better than any author I’ve ever read. I became engaged with the first character of the book. I remembered that this was how Wool started for Howey. He published the first part online and didn’t think anything would come of it. Well, surprise! People wanted more. Now I knew why. When I finished the first part, I couldn’t imagine not having the rest of the book. I do remember thinking this though – there is no way I am going to let myself get attached to the next characters.

What a stupid thought that was. Throughout the rest of the book, I found myself thinking like the characters and experiencing their emotions right along with them. Folks, some of you might not know how hard that is to do as an author. Trust me, it is. It had been a while since I had to actually put a book down and take a break because I was so overwhelmed with what had just happened. I did that a few times with this book.

Wool was different. I guess we could call it science fiction, but I would call it human condition fiction. I know that sounds funny, but this really was a set of stories that let me consider how humans would react in this particular post-apocalyptic scenario. My background in political science had me wondering about how humans would naturally respond to what took place in Wool, and I think Howey was spot on. He understand us, and that is why he was able to create a book that can connect with us so powerfully.

The writing was superb and the stories were captivating. Seriously, if you want to read a book that can help you get your creative mind going, or whether you just want to sit down and be taken away from where you are right now, pick up Wool by Hugh Howey. This is one of those book we’ll want to read over and over. It’s timeless. I put it on par with 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, etc. Great work!