Lately I’ve been contemplating legacy. I’m not saying I’m going to be the next big thing, or anything at all for that matter, but it’s been on my mind. What prompted it is the sheer amount of press one Hugh Howey has been getting (Disclaimer time: I don’t know the guy. I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice guy and all. I just fundamentally disagree with the way he goes about a lot of things). Howey, in case you’re not familiar, wrote the Wool series, which… isn’t bad. He self-published it, struck gold and has somehow or the other become the flagship for self-published authors and
Amazon’s lapdog (I’m trying to play nice here). In any case that’s what he’s known for- and, quite frankly, good for him- a guy who made a bunch of money self-publishing. It’s the American Dream.
And maybe it’s enough to get him remembered. If so, good for him (playing nice), but it’s not how I want to be remembered. He can be Edison. I’d rather be Tesla.
On the other side of the coin, you have one Neil Gaiman (Disclaimer, reduex: I’m not one of Gaiman’s fanboys. He has a legion of people who will laud literally anything he puts out; there are areas where I disagree with him, as well, so don’t get the idea that this is a fanboy rant of any sort). The thing about Neil is that he is always talking about writing. He will certainly comment on all manner of industry-related topics, has this whole dalliance with Blackberry, and sometimes gets way into ‘art’, but you know what? He writes. He encourages others to write. And he writes really, really well.
But wait, DESR, you say, Howey is, like, always, telling people to write. How is that different?
Howey puts a tremendous amount of emphasis on publishing because now anyone can self-publish. His advice to new authors is, basically, sit around and wait (this is really bad advice). The last thing the literary world needs is every single person who finishes a MS to slap it up on KDP, price it at $2.99 and wait. No where does he say “write a MS. Finish it. Throw it away, because it sucks”. If writers need on piece of advise, it’s that. Not “publish it, then publish some more, oh and you can get all the writing advise you need from Amazon” (for God’s sake, man, I hope they kissed you first).
I don’t fault the guy for having corporate interests, or getting a big check, because, hey, we all want it, right? Lord knows Gaiman makes bank too. But, 50 years from now, Neil won’t be remembered for hooking up with Blackberry, he’ll be remembered for some damn good writing. Howey is already known for being a champion of self-publishing, not how great
(or not) his books are (playing nice), and he is only reinforcing that by his non-stop sucking-up to Amazon.
This book will be self-published. Maybe the next one will. I have no idea. But either way, I want to be remembered for the book- not how I published it.