Low-Hanging Fruit

I am really sick of talking about Hugh Howey. But not anywhere near as sick as I of hearing about him. I think I’ve stood fairly alone in this for a while, but he has always bugged me (you might have picked up on this).

The thing you always heard about him was he’s so nice. And I went, ok, maybe he is. I don’t know the guy, right? He always struck me as self-righteous, but hey, maybe that’s just me.

Turns out I was right. (EDIT: Apparently he’s deleted it and replaced in with a weak-ass apology) (EDIT, Edit: J. Bridger took some screencaps. Thanks!)

Here’s the thing: I don’t want to be right. At least, not like this. There are so many problems with his rant, it’s hard to know where to start. There are two main issues, though:

1) It’s sexist. This is the big one, make no mistake. I won’t pretend, as some do, that this is 2013 we’re past this. It’s 2013 and people are still sexist and racist and all manner of stupid things. It shouldn’t exist in any time. Suck it, b****h is only appropriate in one context, and that’s between two consenting adults, not a blog post about a stranger who got under your skin. I’m not going to go in depth on this, because it’s just wrong, we all know it’s wrong and if I have to explain to you why it’s wrong, you are probably reading the wrong blog.

2) It misses the point. Again. This is my bigger problem with Howey, professionally. He goes on and on about how much you can make self-publishing, but never does anything to, you know, make it better. Well, I get good reviews. Well, lots of people make money off it. This is not news. As Corissa tells me all the time, show don’t tell. Show us the quality works. Champion the little guy who gets no press who wrote a quality book. But, no, he goes with his standard get-rich-quick pitch and pulls out Big Al’s Books and Pals? Good for you and all, but that’s hardly a Hugo. Maybe she was dumb and wrong in thinking awards are the end-all, be-all of publishing success… but way to stoop to her level and lose. Way to help the self-publishing cause (incidentally, Seannan McGuire’s self-published ‘In Sea-Salt Tears IS nominated for a Hugo. Maybe mention that). He’s just so off-base as to what the real issues are, it makes my head spin.

2b) It wasn’t that bad. For crying out loud, I encounter ruder people in parking lots. Grow some skin, dude.

Self-Publishing is not the Story

Another day, another Salon article whining about failing at self-publishing. What’s that, it’s not? It’s God’s gift to self-publishing, Hugh Howey himself and he says that you can get filthy stinking rich off self-publishing?

What’s your story?

Now, look, I get what he’s trying to do. But the fact that you can make money- and good money- self-publishing is news to exactly no one. There aren’t many authors who need to know that self-publishing is a viable option. In fact, fewer do, so the slush pile he refers to will shrink a little bit. To hear him tell it, everyone should just publish whatever they have. There isn’t word one about editing to be found from him. Nor is there any advice on how to market and promote your book once it is out, which leads to articles like this.

Because that’s the advice Howey gives, to borrow from Chuck Wendig: leave your book in a grassy field and hope someone walks by and picks it up. Maybe they will. Probably not. Either way, that information is useless. Do you know why? Self-publishing is not the story. Hugh really wants it to be. Amazon really wants Hugh to tell it that way (ever notice he never talks about anyone but Amazon? Of course, they’re the cool guy next door who married his mom. Or maybe they’re his mom?), because it helps their cut and helps Hugh sell books because he’s indie, not because he produced a quality work.

In the end, the things that make each self-published author successful (or not) are the same things that have made traditional publishers successful (or not) for the last 100 years- the ability to sell books. That’s it. Talking about how self-publishing can make you money is like saying you can make money being published by Random House. Everyone knows that. And it’s not like you’d do worse if Penguin published you. Again; I get what he’s trying to do, but he’s splitting a very irrelevant hair. You want to help self-publishers? Tell them to hire an editor and cover artist. Tell them how to market well and get their book in front of people. Use your reach to champion the quality books that are yet under the radar, not the people who have already made it.

Tell the story that matters.

DESR

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On Legacy

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.

He also has awesome crazy writer hair

This is what a writer does.

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.

DESR