Literary Birthday – 23 June – Hugh Howey

Happy Birthday, Hugh Howey, born 23 June 1975.


  1. You are writing for the reader, who is your ultimate gatekeeper. Get your work in front of them, even if it’s one at a time, one reader a month or year.
  2. To begin with, you need to write. This seems axiomatic because it is. The only way to amass a pile of words into a book is to shovel some every single day. No days off. You have to form this habit; without it you are screwed. I’m going to assume everyone who keeps reading already has this down. If you don’t — you won’t make it.
  3. Get comfortable staring at a blank screen and not writing. This is a skill. If you cannot write and avoid filling that time with distractions, you’ll get to the point where you start writing.
  4. Learn to write rough. Stop caring about spelling and sentence fragments and plot holes and grammar. Get the story down. Listen to the dialogue and try to keep up with your fingers. Get to the end of your manuscript and THEN worry about the quality. If you can master the art of powering through to the end of your story, you are on your way.
  5. If you want to earn a living as a writer, which I’m assuming the people asking for my advice are, you are going to have to be more than a writer. You will be an entrepreneur and a publicist. Or you won’t make it.
  6. I set ambitious deadlines for myself and almost invariably beat them. The trick is to create small goals. Two thousand words a day, a scene a day, two chapters of revising a day, and then watch them add up.
  7. If you’re going to procrastinate, do something useful. Write a blog post. Answer email. Do an interview. Spend your time away from writing supporting your writing.
  8. Be a pro. The writers who take this seriously are the ones making money. It’s a second job, one that you can love and work hard at at the same time. Pros read up on grammar. They read books with an eye to what works and what doesn’t. They set goals for how much they’ll publish in a year. Five years from now, these pros will have 10-20 works available. They only need to sell 250 – 500 books a month to earn a supplemental income. Ten books a day across twenty titles. That’s the long-term goal.
  9. I still consider myself a self-published author. Someone’s just printing the physical copy of what I’ve already done in e-book form. And with all the books I’ve released since then I’ve gone straight to self-publishing. No part of me wants to query or wait for a publisher to do anything. I’m just going straight to the reader.
  10. I found success because I wrote for the love of writing. I self-published simply because I wanted to own my work.

There is more advice available here

Hugh Howey is an American writer. He is best known for writing the science fiction novels, known as the Wool series, part of which he published independently through’s Kindle Direct Publishing system.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 23rd June 2015