Hugh Howey: Advice to Aspiring Authors

Listen Aspiring Authors, Hugh Howey Has Some Advice For You

If anyone has the right and the skill to offer advice on this subject, it’s this guy right here. Even though, he humbly wrote, regarding his blog titled “My Advice to Aspiring Authors” that it sounds ambitious and maybe even egotistical. However, as he said, people, mostly writers or wannabe writers, often ask him for advice, so he promised that he would write a blog about it. And he kept his promise. And now, without any further ado, let us see what this great mind can teach us, aspiring authors, or even newbies.  

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  1. Before anything else – what works for one author, does not necessarily mean it will work for every author. ‘Couse, we are all different and unique, and that is the beauty of writing and also the beauty of living.
  1. You need to have a noble motive to become an affirmed writer. If it’s money and fame you seek, then you are in the wrong branch. Not saying that you can’t become rich and famous as a writer. On the contrary – you can and should. However, that should not be your primary motive because the quality of your writing may suffer because of that. So, simply write because you love it. Later, someday, if you become rich and famous – great!
  1. You actually need to write, not just read “how to become a writer”. You need to write every day, no day off, as much as possible. Make it a habit. This is crucial to becoming a writer – he says – otherwise, you’re screwed. So, his advice on forming this habit is to get comfortable staring at a blank screen for as long as it takes. Because sometimes words simply won’t come. But eventually, they will, and if you’re persistent, you will finally start working on that manuscript.

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  1. Learn to write with your heart, not from the grammar check you have in your brain. Simply put, write rough, ignore some plot holes and spelling mistakes. Only focus on the story and finish it. Once you’ve done that, you can go through the entire manuscript and polish it, improve everything you ignored while writing.
  1. In the beginning, focus more on the actual writing rather than promoting. Because, believe it or not, most famous writers nowadays, thought that their first book would be the bomb! That they would immediately get a call from Oprah. Sadly, that is not how things work in the actual world. There are lucky exceptions, but mostly not. The vast majority of writers don’t do too well with their first book, even if it’s a masterpiece. So, keep writing and keep publishing as much as possible. There will come a time for promoting those works, but first, you need to write, to have hundreds and hundreds of pages in stock, ready to go when the time comes. Just be patient. Nothing can happen overnight. It might sound strange, but you are much better off with your 10th book exploding than your first. The reason is simple: if your 10th book makes a huge wave, then your audience will become interested in your previous works as well, so you will have 10 books that will explode and that will secure your position as a respected writer in the world, or at least your country. On the other hand, if your first book explodes, the quality of your next books may be lower because the sudden fame hit you in the head. And also because it will be hard to match that since you have raised the reader’s expectations and they won’t be satisfied with anything less than what you gave them in the first book.
  1. Getting an agent won’t make your manuscript any better. Just like self-publishing will not make it worse. Therefore, it all comes down to the story – it will either appeal to the readers, or it won’t. And that is something you, and only you, can do. That’s why appealing to readers should be your endgame. They want more story, less prose, so focus on that. Think about your readers while you write, since they are the ones who will either buy your work or not.
  1. Most of us writer still love and enjoy bookstores, but let’s face it – unfortunately, they are gradually becoming a forgotten thing of the past. That is why we have digital self-publishing. You don’t depend on your publisher anymore, because you are the publisher. You have full control over your work. Unlike traditional publishing, you own your work. On top of that, your eBooks will always be there. And you have the rest of your life to make it. Still, do not think for a second that this will be easy. Most writers, even with all these tips, do not make it in their lifetime. Still, that doesn’t mean you should not try. Try as hard as you can, even more than you can. If you don’t wish to be a part of that vast unfortunate group that did not make it, you must to work extra hard. There will be, of course, plenty of disappointments along the way, a lot of rejection, failure, etc. But you can not let that discourage you. Because it is the only way to at least get a decent chance of succeeding.
  1. Now, let’s say you did everything you were supposed to do. You have a bunch of books published online and ready to go. Here comes the promotion part. In traditional publishing, most of the time, no one will promote you. Luckily, you are your own publicist now. That being said, you have to promote yourself, and I mean really promote yourself. Promote the sh*t out of yourself. Or you won’t make it – simple, right? Of course not. It’s an endless work, but, as always, everything in life that has value, is not easy to achieve.
  1. This advice is crucial to succeeding – know the industry. Understand how Amazon algorithms and categories work. Learn the importance of metadata. Simply put: educate yourself, research, study. Learn how the machines work so you can use it to your advantage. Also, here are some other helpful tips: be a pro, be nice, network and make connections with all kinds of people in your branch.
  1. In conclusion, be very patient and persistent. Write, write, write! And remember: self-publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Judging by everything we just read, Howey has a lot of similar opinions with Craig Martelle. You can read our article on Martelle here.  And, as we did before, we are going to end this article with one of Howey’s inspirational quotes: “Even in the darkness, his smile threw shadows.”

This is an adjusted, shortened and paraphrased article based on Hugh Howey’s original blog. You can read his entire text here. Also, feel free to check out his books on Amazon.

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Dave P
Dave P
Be a little better today than yesterday.
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