By Tara Fowler
December 13, 2012 at 04:59 PM EST


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Calling all geeks everywhere! Hugh Howey’s sci-fi sensation Wool has scored a major publishing deal with Simon & Schuster, with hardcover and paperback copies set to be published in March 2013.

Initially self-published as a short story in 2011, Wool was released with very little fanfare — that is, no promotion or formal marketing. However, as word began to spread, the book quickly gained traction, garnering thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Readers begged Howey for more, and one book became two and two became five. “Every single milestone has been a complete shock,” Howey told EW in an email. “I’ve been telling myself for a year now that things have peaked, to brace for impact, and then something else amazing happens.”

So what’s Wool all about? In a post-apocalyptic Earth, the last remaining humans cling to life hundreds of feet beneath the surface, confined to giant bunkers. There, the survivors must contend with the rules of a highly-regulated society meant to protect them from the ruined world above. But when a new sheriff comes into power of Silo 18, she’ll learn that the bunkers hold their own secrets.

Howey credited the success of the series to his fans, saying that he’s “extremely surprised” and “humbled” by the following the books have gained over the past year. However, he added that, on an objective level, the power of social media no longer surprises [him]. “Look at how many views PSY received with ‘Gangnam Style’ or how Fifty Shades of Grey took off,” he wrote. “The world is interconnected in a way that the old word ‘buzz’ just doesn’t convey an longer. It’s more like a resounding boom, one after another, with every Tweet and Facebook share. So, while it startles me to have it happen with something I wrote, the speed and power with which we share the things we enjoy are just new facts of life.”

The film rights to Wool were optioned by Twentieth Century Fox earlier this year.

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