Reaching Readers: How Hugh Howey Hooked Me

(originally shared with a facebook group, where many self-published authors ask for tips on how to reach more readers)

Wanted to share an experience, in the hopes it encourages those of you who are just now hitting the publish button, or who are looking to reach more readers.

One of the reasons Hugh Howey’s books stuck with me, when he first started self-publishing Wool back in 2011/2012, was because he physically came to my college literature course and spoke to us about Wool and Molly Fyde.

I don’t know if I would have started reading science fiction at all if he hadn’t been there that day. I might not be writing the book I’m writing now if he hadn’t been there. I might not have started reviewing and promoting books for other indie authors either. And, I sure wasn’t going out of my way to find them at that time. Even with social media on his side, I had no clue who he was when he started out.

That day, I remember him inspiring us, especially speaking to those of us who loved to read and write. I might not remember his exact words, and I wish I had recorded it all, but he made me feel like I could be successful in whatever I decided to do in my life. I do remember immediately looking up his website and writing down his name. Wool wasn’t even the book I was interested in at the time. I believe it was his interest in writing I, Zombie, which caught my attention; he hadn’t even started writing it yet. My friend and I talked about him for months and months after that encounter, and we both sped off to buy, start, and finish as many of his books as we could. 

The reason I wanted to share this experience is because Hugh being physically present, speaking to me, passing his books around the class for us to hold, and just being on our level as a person, made him more memorable as an author. At least, this is how I see him. And there’s something special about watching your favorite author grow and succeed after all that time.

I should ask him sometime how many readers he gained from those visits. I’m curious to know now.

My point is, he impressed me as a person first and as an author second. I’m a reviewer, who promotes authors and their books, so he also gained my followers too. Gaining just one more reader could make all the difference in the world to your success. 

Hope this helps someone. I just kept trying to think of what I want to do to gain readers once I’m ready to hit the publish button. I would probably do what Hugh did, and just meet people and talk with them about my journey as a writer (along with still promoting on social media, etc.).