Fed up with self-publishing success stories yet? Waiting for the straw that breaks the camel’s back and sends everyone scurrying back to tried and tested means of publishing? Well tough noogies, because it looks like that ain’t happening any time soon, with The Bookseller bringing news of the latest DIY bidding battle. Century has beaten out four other contenders for the rights to Hugh Howey’s Amazon bestseller Wool, a post-apocalyptic epic initially published in five parts beginning last summer. Not that Amazon reviews necessarily mean anything, but the flurry of four and five star raves for the book might help explain why, despite no marketing push from anyone but Howey himself, Wool is currently sitting in the top 50 paid downloads for Kindle, and has already been downloaded over 140,000 times worldwide.
Naturally, the comparison everyone is rushing to make is to the similar grassroots, word of mouth success of Fifty Shades of Grey. Whilst there are some disparities between the two – Wool hasn’t had a print run prior to its acquisition by a major publisher, for instance, while Fifty Shades of Grey was available as print on demand before Vintage bought the rights to it – a vaguely comparable publishing model is probably the least distressing outcome to any sentence that begins ‘Fifty Shades of Grey-influenced’, so it might be best not to question it too much.
The Century edition of Wool is due for publication in hardback and digital in January, with an Arrow paperback to come the following August. Rights have been sold in Spain, China, Taiwan, Brazil and Poland, are being negotiated in Germany, and as yet remain unclaimed in America. 20th Century Fox has also bought the film rights, presumably because the last time a word of mouth publishing sensation about a dystopic future was given a cinematic adaptation, it turned out pretty alright for all concerned.