Believe it or not, there are advantages to turning down a seven-figure offer from a traditional publisher, according to author Hugh Howey.
"The No. 1 advantage is the hilarious faces you get from your spouse," he says. "Have your camera ready - that's what I advise other authors who do this. The looks are priceless."
Despite the joking, Howey has been wildly successful through direct publishing. After his first book was published by a small press, he used Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing because it provided the freedom of self-publishing.
Howey is best known for his "Wool" series, novellas that take place on a post-apocalyptic Earth where humans live in subterranean cities called Silos that extend 100 stories beneath the surface. He began writing it as a stand-alone short story that became so popular with Amazon Kindle customers, he expanded it.
In 2012, he signed a deal with Simon and Schuster to distribute "Wool" in book form. Though the deal allowed him to continue to sell the book online exclusively, he turned down seven-figure offers in favor of a mid-six-figure offer to maintain e-book rights.
"In my case, the decision was pretty easy, to be honest," Howey says. "Some authors like Barry Eisler and Brenna Aubrey have been far more courageous.
"By the time six-figure offers came my way, I was already making that much. By the time seven-figure offers came my way, I was making that much.
"The only thing publishers had to offer at that point was the vanity of seeing my books in bookstores, which wasn't enough for me to give up my digital rights," Howey says. "So my agent and I kept walking away."
Howey hopes his actions benefit other writers.
"We have this naive hope of seeing contracts become more fair for authors, more of a partnership and less of an acquisition," he says. "We're crazy like that."
The author of the popular Molly Fyde series of science fiction novels for young adults, Howey also has written assorted novels and novellas. Before he became a writer, he worked as a yacht captain, roofer and audio technician.
Although he's prolific, Howey writes just three to four hours a day.
"The key for me is not to take any days off," he says. "It's amazing what you can amass if you write without fail and don't procrastinate.
"I do most of my writing in the morning and then handle business stuff in the afternoon. My dog gets a walk on the beach around lunch, which is when I recharge."
Howey's experience with the small press that printed his first book was eye-opening.
"I watched them use print-on-demand and e-book distributors, and I realized I could do this myself," he says. "I started learning ahead of them and offering suggestions.
"When the contract came for my second book, I told them I thought I'd be happier striking out on my own," Howey says. "It was a very amicable split. I would have driven them crazy trying to be more involved in my books than authors typically are."
Film rights to "Wool" were sold to 20th Century Fox.
"I tell myself it'll never happen, and then I find out it's moving along," Howey says. "The screenplay is being wrapped up right now.
"The studio and the producers say it's a very high priority for them, but I'll believe it when I can smell the popcorn.
"As for vision, I really don't have any attachment to how the story is portrayed."
Howey is surprisingly easygoing about the possible adaptation of his work for film.
"Whatever they do won't change the book," he says. "Even as a reader and moviegoer, I'm very forgiving of adaptations.
"I don't expect a two-hour film to replicate a 10-hour read. It's not possible.
"I want the producers to tell their own story in their own medium and not meddle," Howie says. "Much."
Ideas come from being curious and observant, Howey says.
"I like watching the world, watching people," he says. "I read the New York Times every morning and gobble down as much non-fiction as I can.
"I travel a lot. I have this insane thirst to understand some sliver of my existence before it's over. Futile, I know, but the journey's the thing."
To young writers, Howey says, "Get rid of the 'would' and focus on the 'be.'
"Are you writing every single day for at least one uninterrupted hour? No? Come back to me once you've got that down.
"And when you do, I'll tell you that you already know everything you need to know," he says. "It really is that simple. It's about forming a habit and sticking to it for years. And years. And never quitting."
The first time Howey realized he could write was when he penned a letter to his father.
"It moved him to tears, and I bawled while writing it," he says. "I was in high school, and I felt this amazing emotional energy from stringing words together and expressing deep emotions.
"It helped that I was constantly praised for this talent. It made me invest in it. That's why I think it's so important that we encourage ability when we see glimmers of it."
The young adult series came about because Howey writes what he loves to read.
"My writing career is following my reading career," he says. "I started with the stories that I fell in love with when I was young.
"My hope is to explore many genres. I'm a voracious and varied reader. I hope to be the same sort of writer."