Hugh Howey’s self-published e-book WOOL is hunting around for a director and is being produced Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian. In order to make the screenplay more appealing to a solid director, “Guardians of the Galaxy” scribe Nicole Perlman is going to rewrite the script.
“Wool” has quickly become a poster child for the self-publishing movement. The book sold over 140,000 copies in the first six months and Howey later wrote The Shift Trilogy, which serves as a precursor to “Wool.”
In 2012 the Silo Saga was apart of a huge bidding war by film studios and 20th Century Fox won the rights. They recently convinced Perlman, who saw her script for the movie Guardians of the Galaxy garner over $800 million worldwide, to rewrite the existing script.
In case anyone has high hopes for their self-published novel becoming a Ridley Scott movie, be aware that this title is an outlier, the exception rather than the rule. Howey is a great writer, which is tremendously helpful (although as we’ve seen with Fifty Shades, is by no means a requirement). Unfortunately, because he was a nobody when starting out, he wouldn’t have had much chance of being picked up by any of the major publishers, who are just like the studios in that they’re extremely unwilling to take a chance on an unproven unknown. He’s also a savvy marketer, which is a requirement even for those hoping to hit the lottery and get a Random House deal. Even with those two facets, most titles don’t ever make it to the silver-screen — even if published by Random House or any of the others.
So, congrats to Howey. But recognize that he’s not the sign of a trend. Wool and Fifty Shades just happened to work for some reason; most Amazon novels make peanuts for their authors, and most aren’t even all that good. Brick-and-mortar bookstores and retail outlets still won’t carry them in their inventory, which significantly restricts marketing and distribution to niche channels on the Internet. Don’t give up entirely; write what you want to write, and seek out services to make it polished. But don’t think you’ll be the next Hugh Howey or that Amazon books will be considered “reputable” without that Penguin/Random House seal of approval.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.