MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sci-Fi's Underground Hit

Authors are snubbing publishers and insisting on keeping e-book rights. How one novelist made more than $1 million before his book hit stores.





Simon and Schuster has put down six figures for print rights to a post-apocalyptic thriller called "Wool" that it believes could draw the same readers that made "The Hunger Games" trilogy a success. WSJ's Alexandra Alter reports on Lunch Break. Getty Images. 

Hugh Howey's postapocalyptic thriller "Wool" has sold more than half a million copies and generated more than 5,260 Amazon reviews. Mr. Howey has raked in more than a million dollars in royalties and sold the film rights to "Alien" producer Ridley Scott.

And Simon & Schuster hasn't even released the book yet.

In a highly unusual deal, Simon & Schuster acquired print publication rights to "Wool" while allowing Mr. Howey to keep the e-book rights himself. Mr. Howey self-published "Wool" as a serial novel in 2011, and took a rare stand by refusing to sell the digital rights. Last year, he turned down multiple seven-figure offers from publishers before reaching a mid-six-figure, print-only deal with Simon & Schuster. 

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