Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Self-pubbed Star Hugh Howey's Epic Rant

I hadn't planned on posting about this incident with author Hugh Howey and his public rant, but since all authors are under scrutiny now more than ever, I decided to put it up just for my own sake, and record it on this blog. I often think of this blog as my own personal journal, and I reference it all the time. And this is news; this is interesting; this is current. I might want to go back and reference it once again.

For those who don't know, Hugh Howey is a self-published author who has done well...very well. He has a deal with a big publisher, and from what I've read a nice movie deal. I haven't read him; I know nothing else about him. He is what all self-pubbed authors dream of becoming. Well, most anyway. Not everyone wants that kind of fame and some writers just want to be career writers and continue working until they die. But I digress. Our culture promotes this kind of thing, and most people want it...but not all of us.

In any event, Howey met up with an aggressive young woman at WorldCon last year who wasn't fond of self-publishing, made her views known openly, and went on her own little public rant. According to everything I've read she was quite obnoxious about it. Howey didn't like this, and he went after her on his blog and on goodreads at a later date. (Interesting how goodreads always pops up during shitstorms.) I don't know who this young woman is, but if anyone does know, I'd be interested in learning a little more about her background in publishing. Just curious.

It all started while Howey was standing in line with a group of people from Canada, listening to this aggressive young woman talk about how she was going to get one of these people from Canada an agent and help him/her with his/her writing career. That alone sounds suspicious to me. Again, who is this young woman? How is she going to do this? When Howey politely interjected, the young woman allegedly became belligerent and started to bash self-publishing without even knowing about Howey's success in self-publishing. She actually asked him what awards he'd won. From what I gather, Howey remained calm and polite during this confrontation with the aggressive young woman and he did not respond to her attacks. But don't quote me on that: getting *objective* information these days isn't easy.

What happened after that is where it gets interesting. Again, from what I can gather, Howey didn't actually do anything or say anything offensive to this pushy young woman that day. He went about his business and then wrote about this incident later. He talked about what he wanted to say to her as if daydreaming aloud, and what he imagined a blog post, after the fact. Not what he actually did do. And because he wrote about what he thought about doing on his blog and on goodreads, the Interwebs went berserk.

Interestingly enough, Howey received no attention for this for almost a week or more, and then someone saw it, and it has since erupted into what some are calling an Epic Rant about "vast and deep offensiveness."

Get my smelling salts.

You can read more here, where they've reposted Howey's original post that he's since deleted. How they get to do that without his permission I'm not certain, but they did it anyway and I'm really not sure how those things work.

Romance author Courtney Milan made this statement in the article two which I've linked, and that's exactly how I would have handled a situation like that, too. I've always believed that words have power, and a writer more than anyone should understand the magnitude of that power and never, ever, abuse it. It's why I refuse to embrace the word "queer," and find it just as insulting as the word "bitch" used toward women. You can quote me on that one!

“‘Crazy bitch who needs to be slapped’ are words that carry very different connotations than ‘rude, ignorant person who is wrong,’” noted romance author Courtney Milan.

Maybe I shouldn't admit this aloud (and I don't support what Howey did). But I also have hundreds of unpublished blog posts for a reason. I've been insulted, attacked, and denigrated many times, and I often write blog posts/rants for my own personal therapeutic reasons (Dear Abbey once said it was okay to do this with letters). After I write them, and I calm down a little, I realize that these are posts I wrote off the top of my head, during a bad mood, and they are not things I would normally write when I'm in a normal frame of mind. As I said, I don't like words like "bitch" and "queer," and I do think they are offensive. However, we all make mistakes and Howey has issued an apology here.

I apologized for the post and decided to leave it up. I didn’t want to run or hide from the mistake I made. Then I called my wife, who is currently on the other side of the globe from me, had a good cry, and listened to her advice.

I also strongly believe in forgiveness. It's right up there with gratitude. And to ignore High Howey's sincere apology would not make me a better person. One of the things I like most about our culture is that it is built around this type of forgiveness.


A.B.Gayle said...

I wouldn't mind betting that the woman was a literary agent, and felt her whole profession is under threat. Which it is. Until now, agents ruled the roost. If you wanted to be published you had to bow and scrape to find an agent first.

Don't get me wrong, some of them were good and worth every cent of the percentage, but the story of how and why they "choose" books shows what a lucky dip it is.

You'd probably be interested in this article, I found:

The big question is what did Bryony Evens make out of the whole deal! :)

ryan field said...

She might be a young agent, but I'm not so sure. And here's why. Most of the agents I know are now actually helping authors with self-publishing. Agent Kristen Nelson just wrote a blog post about it in early April. I was planning to post something and never got around to it. And I even know another agent personally who is putting his client backlist up on Amazon in digital format alone to get them out there for his clients. Some of the biggest agents in NY have e-publishing services to self-publish their clients. So I think this young woman was just a know-it-all type.

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

A.B.Gayle said...

Yeah, I made that comment before I read the full article, now I'm wading through the comments on the second article. The first one by kchoze and the subsequent reaction to it, is something I find very distressing.
I'm not even sure the person who replied to him actually read the full article, just took the few words (probably from a tweet) and then reacted.
That's probably the best lesson, that when posting something online you have to be prepared for that to happen.
But instead of saying calmly, I really think your message would get over better if your removed or rephrased the last paragraph, they're almost threatening to jail him.
The over the top reaction just makes men (straight or whatever) more wary of females and as he terms them, the professional outrage seekers. The ones who immediately tell everyone not to read their books, or goes and places one star reviews on his books and anyone who dares to support him.
There is a word for that type of action, bullying.

ryan field said...

I've read the comments, too. I find them just as disturbing myself. That's why I agreed so strongly with Courtney Milan's comment about addressing an issue with better words and doing it in a more civil manner. And I think he really knew he did something wrong and I think he sounds genuine in his apology.

A.B.Gayle said...

The thing that pisses me off is that that is not enough for some people. They want him to fall on his sword. Stop writing. It's the bully culture that pervades schools. It's why some girls are driven to drastic measures, because for some reason, a group of people decide to take issue with who they are or what they've said and start up a vendetta.
They're the ones who need to stand back and really look at what they're doing.
As far as I can see they're painting themselves into a corner and won't back down, and in doing so being more divisive and creating mor ill feeling towards that type of behavior (which is the essence of what the term "bitchiness" is all about) than doing good.
It's why a lot of people are very reluctant to say anything for fear of this type of concerted backlash from someone who decides to take offence at what's been said.
Sometimes it's warranted, sometimes it's not.
But the way they've publicly and concertedly painted him as being misogynistic and offensive says more about them than it does about him.

ryan field said...

The lack of forgiveness surprises me. He issued a public apology. And I think it's sincere. I've seen people write some pretty nasty things and they didn't apologize. But he did admit a mistake.