1. Write the first three chapters of your brand new soon-to-be-bestselling legal thriller and send a query letter via FedEx to John Grisham’s agent. Get a phone call back the next day. Have a new agent in the office ask you to send along the entire manuscript. Tell her you’ve only got three chapters.
2. Tell a friend in Manhattan who tells a friend who’s a book agent who tells a friend who buys books for TV. Have that person want your manuscript for a TV movie, meet with you in NYC, tell you as soon as you finish and get a publisher she’ll make the deal. Have her mention a six-figure payday.
3. Start thinking about your fabulous new life and what you’ll do with all that money.
4. Go back and take a year to write the book, sending Grisham agent chapters along the way that she files and doesn’t look at.
5. Finally send her entire book and start staring at the phone.
6. Be on a cruise when a letter arrives from her. Call and have your Dad (staying with the kids) read it. Have it be crushingly dismissive.
7. Be discouraged for a couple of years. Have life intervene.
8. Write a political thriller that you plot out with savvy writing group pals. Finish in six months. Send out query letters to agents.
9. Have some ask for chapters, some ask for entire manuscript. Have one call you and say she stayed up late reading it and loves it.
10. Be amazed and wait for a fantastic offer.
11. Have her call the next day and say her fellow agent asked her not to take it on because the bad guy is African-American.
12. Write a sample for another book for her.
13. Have her send that out to publishers, who either don’t get it or think it’s a joke.
14. Be discouraged for a couple of years.
15. Rework political thriller over and over. Learn to write better. Change the bad guy’s complexion. Make the other candidate female. Send it out sporadically. Become really excellent at query letter writing.
16. Write a young people’s fantasy and lots of short stories. Contemplate other plots. Do freelance writing for magazines and eventually online.
17. When people ask you when your book will be published, shrug and smile. When they suggest self-publishing, tell them it’s death to a “real” writer. Stay discouraged.
18. Read about Amanda Hocking. Read Joe Konrath. Read David Gaughran.
19. Do one last pass through political thriller. Get a professional to do the cover. Pay someone to edit. Hold your breath and…
20. Spend the long Fourth of July weekend in 2011 learning to format and upload the book, with the help of your mostly patient IT-wise husband who has a PC. Argue about italics. Stress out. Get it up with KDP, finally. Stay married. Become an indie on Independence Day!
21. Sell a few books. Tell friends. Be thrilled at reviews from strangers. Be happy to sell 35 books the first month, then 20, then 10, then…
22. Jump into KDP Select free days when that’s brand new, at the end of 2011. Be amazed as the counter on the “sales” page clicks every few minutes. Give away 8,500 on the first day. Catapult to something like #120 on the paid bestseller list the next day, because giveaways count as sales, and be too green to look and get a screenshot. Get on Movers and Shakers list twice, and miss it because you don’t know what that means.
23. Make $6,000 the last week of December, 2011, and prepare to be rich.
24. Watch as sales drop slowly from that date until the summer of 2012. Goose book with occasional free days, with less and less effect.
25. Publish thriller in print in summer of 2012. Sell few, but enjoy the beauty of holding the book in your hand.
26. Read a short story called WOOL around the same time. Read the Omnibus. Read First Shift when it comes out. Notice that someone else is writing Silo stories for money in the spring of 2013.
27. Become fascinated with following a loose thread in the WOOL saga yourself. Contemplate writing “fan fiction,” never having read or written fan fiction. Email author Hugh Howey and tell him about your Silo story.
28. Have WOOLmeister Hugh Howey tell you he LOVES your story, and go ahead and publish the first segment of the Karma series. Note that even 99¢ ebooks make money when you sell two thousand in your first month.
29. Write and publish the second, the third, and the fourth books in the series. Make a reliable four figures a month. Get nervous and balk at writing the fifth. Worry that the ending won’t live up to your fans’ expectations. Write it anyway.
30. Come up with more Silo stories than you have time to write. Decide not to spend your whole life writing ebooks set in the WOOLiverse, tempting as it might be. Start plotting a new sci-fi dystopian series of your own.
31. Concoct your recipe for keeping on keeping on, and plan to find that amazing writing-for-a-living success in… about four more years, after doing a lot more of this:
Write for joy.
Write for yourself.
Write for fun.
Write a lot.
Write and publish and forget about it.
Write as though you are already the successful author you will be.
Remember that success is not about the money.
It’s about the amazement of taking what’s in your wild and unpredictable imagination and sharing it with others.
It’s about living in a time when we can get our words out to the entire world for virtually nothing.
It’s about the joy of creating something that never existed before.
Thanks, as usual, for reading, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here. No spamming and no selling of your email! And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.
Here is a little taste from the beginning of the fifth and final part of the Karma series. I’m so excited about the ending to this story!
It should be available within the first half of October. After that, I’ll put the entire series together under the title “Karma, Collected,” and publish it in print as well as electronically.
Get ready for the final word on just what happened to this character who fell off the page… until now.
“Every man’s memory is his private literature.”
― Aldous Huxley
“I want to go out.” I am calm as I say it, standing just outside the Sheriff’s office, looking her in the eye.
I know that I am on camera, but there seems no need for drama, since the very act of speaking those words renders my sentence final. As I repeat the statement, I feel a certain peace. The peace of completion.
“I want to go Outside,” I say, and I remember my old friend Andy, whose innocent attempt to explore the world we once knew earned him death, eternally visible on the wallscreen. If I turn around and go into the teeming cafeteria, I will still see the remains of his body lying dessicated on the lifeless ground.
People have gathered around us, listening and watching. There are quiet murmurings and shocked intakes of breath.
I see the pain on the Sheriff’s face. She is a good woman, and she will not be happy to escort me to my certain death.
There is no pain for me. Only sweet serenity, and anticipation. Finally, I am completing the circle that began when Grace, decades ago, took my place and went out to Clean in my stead. She told me then that it was not yet my time. But now it is.
Let them think the old woman has gone mad. Even a madwoman must be sent out to Clean, according to the rules.
And they always follow the rules.
I laugh, and turn to face the gathered crowd. I say it again, for the power, the freedom, the simplicity. The wonder.
“I want to go Outside.”
Jason Gurley, author of Greatfall, has put together an interesting article on Medium.com about all the folks who write stories set in or around the WOOLiverse. The piece includes commentary by Hugh Howey and a number of other writers, including me, about “fan fiction,” the future of this growing franchise and the new program by Amazon known as Kindle Worlds, which is expected to launch within a few weeks. WOOL has been added as one of the properties in which others will officially be allowed to write and sell books, and those of us who have already been writing Silo stories — which have sold an incredible 30,000 copies combined as of last week — are watching this development with great anticipation.
I urge you to check the article out and let me know what you think about fan fiction as well as Amazon’s plans.
In the meantime… look for Karma #4, Rising Up, by this weekend. w00t! Or as we like to say, w00L! If you haven’t read the first three in the series, here they are, in order:
Karma #1, The Sky Used to be Blue
Karma #2, Cleaning Up
Karma #3, Deep Justice
I’m out of the country for a good bit of July, so the fifth and final book in the Karma series, Last Walk, may not be released until later in the summer. I’ll be watching to see how the Kindle Worlds announcement impacts the possibilities for that book and for the compilation of all the Karma stories into one big novel… whose title I keep messing with, but which I’m currently calling Karma, Complete.
I’m excited to announce that Karma #4, RISING UP, is going to be available for purchase by July 1 (and maybe even earlier). I just wrote “The End” on the draft, and now I do some rewriting and then send it out for formatting. Watch this space next week for a sneak preview!
And here is the cover… ta da!
“… most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.” ~ Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Deputy Herring stands up and offers me her chair when I arrive in the office. I shake my head no but give her a polite smile.
Sheriff Aponte doesn’t get up. He’s speaking into the radio. “Right. Judge Brewer has joined us.”
Static fills the room as he takes his finger off the speaker button. I’m well aware that his statement could mean he was cautioning those in radio communication that a judge, and the wife of the Head of IT, was now in the room. Or perhaps he was just being polite by introducing me. Either way, whoever was on the other end knew I was in here now.
Aponte turns to me while he turns the radio crackle down. “So here’s what we know. It looks like Mechanical was trying to build a bomb of some sort, and it exploded prematurely. Probably saved some lives that it happened this way. Now we know what they’re up to.” He stopped, apparently remembering where he’d been. “Sorry it spoiled your son’s wedding.”
I shrugged, acknowledging it as being of minor importance. “Any deaths?”
“No, remarkably.” He put on his glasses and pushed his sandy hair back with a hand. The man needed a haircut, I saw. Probably because he didn’t have a wife. Rumor was that he and the Deputy were sweet on each other. I could see that on his side. She was a smart cookie, and not bad to look at for a woman who spent her time trying to be scary enough to get compliance from men twice her size. And they were about the same age—mid-thirties. Older than most who got married. Typically the young people would jump in by twenty or before… it was the only way to get your own place and be able to have sex. At least that was the official rule.
But Deputy Herring was a catch, and Sheriff Aponte was not a pleasant man, as far as I was concerned. I look at her looking at him, and can see that she feels differently.
Aponte looks down at his notes, apparently scribbled while he was getting a radio report from the Deputy Sheriff closest to Mechanical.
“Deputy Lincoln says a few shrapnel wounds and some injuries from the force of the impact throwing people against walls, as you’d expect. But no deaths. They were lucky.”
I see Herring nod, her blonde curls bobbing as she agreed. Admiration shines in her eyes. Too much time spent alone together in this office, I figure. He was probably the only man she knew well enough to develop a crush on.
“So what’s the plan?” I ask. What indeed? Mechanical might as well have declared war, since their attempt to build the bomb certainly telegraphed their intentions.
“Deputy Lincoln is on the scene now, and the Security people IT loaned him are making their way down from 34 to the Down Deep lickety spittle.” Aponte takes off his glasses and looks at me. “They’ll have… the necessary equipment.”
I shudder, then repress it. Guns is what they would have, as I well knew. Rick kept me completely in the dark about his doings in IT—protecting me, probably, as much as anything else—but I knew they had guns and plenty of other means of controlling the population. There had been enough minor skirmishes in the 25 years we’d been underground for me to know that his department was equipped to put down any serious attempts at overthrowing the power structure.
Of course, there hadn’t been any organized attempts. Until, perhaps, now.
The radio crackles to life again, and Aponte turns the volume up.
“IT has sent most of its Security forces down, so we’ll find out what was brewing.” The hiss and crackle fill a space between words as the voice of Deputy from the Down Deep pauses. “Whatever is going on in Mechanical is gonna stop way before it gets to you.”
I look up, catching the eye of Aponte, and I see that he looks eager. Even the law is itching for a fight.
Here’s a thank you to all of you who read “The Sky Used to be Blue”! I made a video for you, kazoo and all. And if you wonder what I’m talking about when I mention that the picture behind me is backward (and it’s not), that’s because a friend flipped the vid for me! So now the cover makes sense, but I don’t. Oh well!
However, it was a very good hair day, so…
Thanks for buying, thanks for reading, thanks for telling your friends, and thanks for reviewing!