Hugh Howey Interview: A Call for Writers to Organize

Image - iStockphoto: UygarGeographic
Image – iStockphoto: UygarGeographic

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson
Hugh Howey Interview: A Call for Writers to Organize


uPublishU Author Hub Bestsellers #BEA14 Andre Freethy Howey LyonsWho Is Headlining the uPublishU Author Hub?

Meet these bestselling charter members of BookExpo America’s all-new center for entrepreneurial authors. Clockwise from upper left: Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Hugh Howey, and CJ Lyons. Join them in networking with industry players on the trade show floor.

Basic membership includes your BEA badge, uPublishU Conference access, the New Title Showcase, BEA Show Planner, and Mobile App listings.

Premium membership adds a dedicated meeting table and chairs in the Hub and a BEA Autograph Signing session.

For info and registration, contact Fred Evanko: 203-840-5965 or

“To Call for Change Within the Publishing Community”

[su_dropcap size=”4″]T[/su_dropcap]his is how a movement might start:

  • Indie authors are outselling the Big Five. That’s the entire Big Five. Combined…in the most popular and bestselling genres on Amazon.
  • Indie authors are earning nearly half the total author revenue from [leading] genre fiction sales on Amazon.
  • For the top-selling genres, Amazon is currently making nearly as much profit from indie ebooks as from Big Five ebooks.
  • For Big Five-published works [in the top-selling genres] the publisher makes more than twice what the author makes for the sale of an ebook.
Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

And this is how a call to action might sound:

I want all authors to stand up for each other, ask for better pay, fairer terms, saner contracts. This only works if writers of all stripes get together and do what the screenwriters were able to do when Hollywood digitized. That should be our model

What you’re reading above are, first, several top-line assertions I’ve excerpted from a report on an all-new set of calculations. They lie at the heart of a new website and author-advocacy effort, On Twitter, it’s @AuthorEarnings.

Second, you’re reading comments made to me by Hugh Howey shortly after the report on those calculations went live on the Author Earnings site.

The points I’ve culled from the report are not independently verified results, and the report is titled just that, The Report. It has a February 12 date on it but it was made visible during the afternoon Tuesday, February 11, by its authors, Howey and an unnamed associate who is working on this project with him.

The site was temporarily crashed Tuesday shortly after the report went live by high levels of traffic, Howey confirmed to me. Author Joe Konrath posted a copy of The Report at his own site, with commentary, during the outage. The tweeterie was quickly bustling with authors telling each other about it. Buzz and debate are likely to grow all evening and into Wednesday. is, as its no-nonsense homepage tells you, dedicated by its creators to “helping authors make better decisions.”

Its short mission statement:

Our purpose is to gather and share information so that writers can make informed decisions. Our secondary mission is to call for change within the publishing community for better pay and fairer terms in all contracts. This is a website by authors and for authors.

There are five activities offered by the new site.

  1. You can read the lengthy report, which asserts, “The benefits are moving to the reader and the writer.”
  2. You can take a short author survey to “help other writers better understand this rapidly changing market.”
  3. You can sign a petition “to allow us to advocate for you.”
  4. You can sign up for email from Author Earnings.
  5. You can download an Excel spreadsheet with the data on which the report is based.

The austerity of the site, the concision and economy of its statements, may surprise some in the established publishing community who would expect any effort in organizing entrepreneurial authors to be all funny hats, whimsical fonts, motivational aphorisms, and phantom unicorn lovers.

Not so. There are no faeries at the bottom of this garden. This looks serious.

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