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#726: Hugh Howey, Author of Silo and Wool — A Masterclass on Writing, Unorthodox Self-Publishing, and Living in The AI Age

March 13, 2024

The Tim Ferriss Show


Hugh Howey is the New York Times bestselling author of Wool, Beacon 23, Sand, Machine Learning, Half Way Home, and more than a dozen other novels. His Silo trilogy was recently adapted by Apple TV, becoming their #1 drama of all time. Please enjoy! Timestamps for this episode are available below. Resources from this episode: Sponsors: Momentous high-quality supplements: (code TIM for 20% off) Helix Sleep premium mattresses: (20% off all mattress orders and two free pillows) Wealthfront high-yield savings account: (Start earning 5% interest on your savings. And when you open an account today, you’ll get an extra fifty-dollar bonus with a deposit of five hundred dollars or more.) Timestamps: [06:48] Breaking the formula with a literary sleight of hand. [11:00] A commitment to 10 years of obscurity. [15:02] Buying back rights and self-publishing. [22:04] Why authors should strive for a reader-first vs. publisher-first mindset. [24:22] Hitting the NYT Best Sellers List with a self-pub book. [27:44] Pricing logic. [31:00] The undersold value of worldwide rights. [33:57] How authors can find deal leverage early on. [37:07] Establishing a daily writing habit. [41:34] Fiction that inspires better writing. [45:27] Collaboration vs. writing solo. [46:59] Ways the publishing industry protects the status quo. [49:55] Why Hugh makes publishing deals at all. [50:45] Self-promotion as therapy. [53:05] Keys to fruitful collaboration. [55:47] Common mistakes creatives make. [1:01:03] AI’s present-and-future impact on publishing. [1:06:05] AI-generated occupational and existential crises. [01:10:11] Mid-term optimist, long-term pessimist [01:14:57] Procreation in uncertain times. [01:19:07] The future of religion. [01:26:21] Free will and objective moral truth. [01:31:02] Parting thoughts. * For show notes and past guests on The Tim Ferriss Show, please visit For deals from sponsors of The Tim Ferriss Show, please visit Sign up for Tim’s email newsletter (5-Bullet Friday) at For transcripts of episodes, go to Discover Tim’s books: Follow Tim: Twitter:  Instagram: YouTube: Facebook:  LinkedIn: Past guests on The Tim Ferriss Show include Jerry Seinfeld, Hugh Jackman, Dr. Jane Goodall, LeBron James, Kevin Hart, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jamie Foxx, Matthew McConaughey, Esther Perel, Elizabeth Gilbert, Terry Crews, Sia, Yuval Noah Harari, Malcolm Gladwell, Madeleine Albright, Cheryl Strayed, Jim Collins, Mary Karr, Maria Popova, Sam Harris, Michael Phelps, Bob Iger, Edward Norton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Neil Strauss, Ken Burns, Maria Sharapova, Marc Andreessen, Neil Gaiman, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Jocko Willink, Daniel Ek, Kelly Slater, Dr. Peter Attia, Seth Godin, Howard Marks, Dr. Brené Brown, Eric Schmidt, Michael Lewis, Joe Gebbia, Michael Pollan, Dr. Jordan Peterson, Vince Vaughn, Brian Koppelman, Ramit Sethi, Dax Shepard, Tony Robbins, Jim Dethmer, Dan Harris, Ray Dalio, Naval Ravikant, Vitalik Buterin, Elizabeth Lesser, Amanda Palmer, Katie Haun, Sir Richard Branson, Chuck Palahniuk, Arianna Huffington, Reid Hoffman, Bill Burr, Whitney Cummings, Rick Rubin, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Darren Aronofsky, Margaret Atwood, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, Dr. Gabor Maté, Anne Lamott, Sarah Silverman, Dr. Andrew Huberman, and many more. See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at