Hugh Howey re-signs with Random House UK

Hugh Howey re-signs with Random House UK

In a surprise announcement made in the form of an open letter, the literary agent for the prominent US “hybrid” writer and self-publisher Hugh Howey has revealed that the author will return to Random House's Century imprint to release his new novel, Sand, in UK print and digital editions.

Kristin Nelson of Denver’s Nelson Literary Agency wrote that the Random House e-book edition will be available this week on UK retail sites. Meanwhile Howey told The Bookseller that a release date for the print edition is as yet unspecified.

Sand was originally self-published by Howey in the US and UK in five sections and released serially on Amazon between mid-December 2013 and early January this year. In the US, Howey then self-published the complete omnibus edition in print on 4th January, and digitally on 9th January. In the UK, the five serial instalments now are being superseded by the RH omnibus edition.

Howey worked with Random House UK last year on both the print and digital editions of his Silo Saga trilogy – Wool, Shift, and Dust. The experience was so good, Nelson wrote, that “Howey eschewed indie publishing in the UK for his latest release because he values the partnership created.”

From Taiwan, where he’s appearing at the opening of the 2014 Taipei International Book Exhibition, Howey confirmed to The Bookseller his high regard for his RH UK experience, saying, “I love the team there. I love Jack Fogg and Jennifer Doyle and Natalie Higgins and Jason Smith” - respectively the editorial director, senior marketing manager, publicity director, and senior designer with whom he worked on Wool. In an additional comment sure to raise eyebrows among US publishing observers, Howey added: “Overseas publishers are so nimble and creative. They get putting the reader first. I can’t wait to see what they [Random House UK] do with Sand.”

The author has previously told The Bookseller: "I love working with publishers. Especially if they are flexible and want to partner rather than own.”

In the US, Howey self-published his Silo Saga trilogy in its digital release. He and Nelson struck a rare print-only contract for the first book, Wool, with Simon & Schuster; the print editions of Shift and Dust were self-published.

Reflecting Howey’s presence as an increasingly influential leader in the entrepreneurial-author movement, Nelson wrote: “Every negotiation is an opportunity to create a tiny bit of change in how publishing works in this global landscape. If there is one thing that I want you to know about Hugh and me, his literary agent, it is this: we are committed to advocating on behalf of change for authors in this rapidly evolving industry. For anything within our power. Always. And this commitment to advocacy takes time and many conversations.”

Sand is unrelated to Wool in its story and characters, and concerns a society that lives in anarchic conditions above the long-buried cities of its ancestors. A story of family crisis and loyalty, the book turns on a concept of sand diving by specialists who descend deep below the surface to retrieve prized artifacts from the lost civilization.

The US omnibus edition’s widely admired cover art, by Jason Gurley of Portland, will appear initially on the UK e-book, Howey said, but perhaps with updates to come from Random House UK.