Hugh Howey on the RT conference in New Orleans

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Mr Flibble

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Just clicked through to the blog

One comment caught my eye

The room the indie authors were in was not dinky. It was another ballroom, and the three times I visited friends there, it was packed. The PA guy repeatedly encouraged readers to visit the self-published authors, so RT was making an effort to steer traffic that way.

This, Hugh says, left one of his friends in tears
I can't help but wonder why.

It's more than I've had at many conventions....
 

evilrooster

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Courtney Milan has what looks like a reasonable explanation for the split, based on administrative grounds (returnable vs non-returnable books).

It's not as exciting as persecution and martyrdom, but it sounds plausible. These kinds of back-end distinctions often do create incomprehensible front-end manifestations, and there's nothing like the incomprehensible to feed people's confirmation biases...
 

Manuel Royal

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It was an indie and eBook section. Indie being both self pub and small press.
Now, if I were there from a small independent publishing house, I think it'd seriously bug me to be lumped in with self-publishers, and to have the term "indie" applied to us both.
 
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shadowwalker

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Hugh wasn't there, he was speaking on behalf of a few other successful self publishers who were in attendance.

I think I'd rather hear from those other SPs themselves if they had problems with the arrangements. I mean, who knows what they actually said and how that was "interpreted"...
 

ElaineA

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The problem when one declares oneself The Voice For A Cause is that one must Keep Talking, whether the words coming out are factually correct or not.

I'm finding it hard to believe the writers who felt "disrespected" at the convention would need (or want) Mr. Howey--who wasn't there--to speak on their behalf. They are writers after all. I'm sure if they are unhappy, they can express it themselves.

I follow a local SP writer from my RWA chapter. I didn't detect in her tweets that she felt the least unwelcome. She looked to be having a good ol' time.
 

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This is what I've been hearing, from self-published acquaintances reporting back. I apologize for misreading that Howey was there.

Frankly, if I'd been self-published and a convention PA person sent people my way, my tears would be of sheer gratitude. I'm digitally published with a small e-pub, in a genre that most of my local fan and writers' groups Just Do Not Get. Any publicity I want, I have to angle for...without coming across as a pushy bitch. For that reason, I really don't promote at local cons.

Even being at a 'side room' at RT would have been useful.
 

Alitriona

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I really wanted to go. I couldn't afford to. I would have been happy sitting in the janitor closet to be honest if it had a table and people were directed there.

Just my opinion. It seemed to me, as someone following closely for the last several days, that everyone was happy until a couple of folks spoke out and told them they shouldn't be.
 

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It should be named something else other than self published writers section as if there's any difference nowadays between that and traditionally published writers. If the RT organizers wanted to label the various publishing house sections and such, that's fine but call the indie section something like the "Independent Publishing" part of the convention. Writers are writers whether self-published or not.

Also, Hugh only has a print only deal with the publisher as he has full control of his digital rights. So the print publisher is more like a partner in his venture.

Hugh also has utilized the agent, Kristen Nelson, only for certain rights, which is a good template to emulate. On another note, an agent really doesn't deserve 15% forever on a writer's work and should instead switch to a 15% commission on a single deal (as opposed to continuous royalties) or even a flat fee. That or just cut them out completely and hire an IP lawyer instead who will work for said fee.
 

Alitriona

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It should be named something else other than self published writers section as if there's any difference nowadays between that and traditionally published writers. If the RT organizers wanted to label the various publishing house sections and such, that's fine but call the indie section something like the "Independent Publishing" part of the convention.

It's my understanding there wasn't a self-published section and that self-published writers were in with indie, ie those from independent publishing houses. Also, it's Trade, not traditional.
 

Deleted member 42

It should be named something else other than self published writers section as if there's any difference nowadays between that and traditionally published writers. If the RT organizers wanted to label the various publishing house sections and such, that's fine but call the indie section something like the "Independent Publishing" part of the convention. Writers are writers whether self-published or not.

It's my understanding that the section included independent publishers and self-published writers and that the signage reflected that as well as the fact that the books in that section were being sold on consignment.

On another note, an agent really doesn't deserve 15% forever on a writer's work and should instead switch to a 15% commission on a single deal (as opposed to continuous royalties) or even a flat fee. That or just cut them out completely and hire an IP lawyer instead who will work for said fee.

A good agent gets you deals like book clubs, etc. In some cases, for instance non-fiction writers, or tie-in writers, a good agent gets you hired to write books because of their contacts with editors.

If I'm going to expect the agent to continue repping me with respect to, say, subsidiary rights, translation rights, etc. (which generally don't include an advance) and expect that agent to get me not just a solid advance but solid royalties, I'm fine sharing those royalties.
 

veinglory

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It was a ham-fisted approach which insulted many authors by putting them in a separate room, that opened late, where they had less table space. I expect the three major authors to blog about it so far will be only the beginning. RT is a great event run by smart people who could do a little better than this.
 

K.B. Parker

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I think I'd rather hear from those other SPs themselves if they had problems with the arrangements. I mean, who knows what they actually said and how that was "interpreted"...

It wouldn't be too difficult to dig into the story then, because those authors (even if the situation has been confused or blown out of proportion) have been pretty open about the issue.

EDIT: I'm prone to side with Courtney over this particular issue.
EDIT2: Elizabeth has some very good points as well.
 
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Kylabelle

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Thanks, veinglory.

I notice both Elizabeth Hunter and Courtney Milan refer to the "aspiring author" label, and neither of them seems to know where that originated.

Courtney Milan says:

Rumor has it that someone claimed that the authors with returnable books were “real authors” and that the authors who were selling their books on a consignment basis were “aspiring authors.” As far as I can tell, this appears to have been one misinformed volunteer, rather than the official RT Convention description. It was not something that I saw or heard, and I do not think it was widespread.

while Elizabeth Hunter only comments:

I sure have a lot of readers for an “aspiring author.” Someone lost out on an opportunity to make money selling my books. Too bad for them.

Wherever the phrase came from it seems to have really raised some hackles. But since no one really knows who said it in the first place, or whether the event organizers or anyone else really have that opinion of self-published authors, I hope at least this part of the disturbance will wither and die.
 

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On another note, an agent really doesn't deserve 15% forever on a writer's work and should instead switch to a 15% commission on a single deal (as opposed to continuous royalties) or even a flat fee. That or just cut them out completely and hire an IP lawyer instead who will work for said fee.

Wow, I so disagree with this. My agent worked with me on getting my manuscript ready and was with me every step of the way. All success or failure of the project was a result of our combined efforts and I'm happy to pay her out of the results of that.

Also, she keeps track of the ongoing paperwork associated with each project, so that I don't have to.
 

K.B. Parker

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Wow, I so disagree with this. My agent worked with me on getting my manuscript ready and was with me every step of the way. All success or failure of the project was a result of our combined efforts and I'm happy to pay her out of the results of that.

Also, she keeps track of the ongoing paperwork associated with each project, so that I don't have to.

Yeah, I agree with this. A good agent is worth more than 15%, IMO.
 

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It's my understanding there wasn't a self-published section and that self-published writers were in with indie, ie those from independent publishing houses. Also, it's Trade, not traditional.

Writer's Digest calls it traditional publishing and they're not the only authority to do so.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional book publishing is when a publisher offers the author a contract and, in turn, prints, publishes, and sells your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher essentially buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the sales.
 

Deleted member 42

Thanks, veinglory.

I notice both Elizabeth Hunter and Courtney Milan refer to the "aspiring author" label, and neither of them seems to know where that originated..

"Aspiring author" is used all over the RT Convention site to refer to unpublished writers, but it's not meant disparagingly. It doesn't seem to be used on the site to refer to self-published authors.

I think there's likely some confusion; the site also uses self-published and "independent authors and publishers" to refer to authors published by independent/non-big 5 publisher and self-published authors.

From the point of the RT staff, I suspect the issue isn't about who is or isn't an author; it's all about how to handle the offered for sale books, and whether the publishers take returns.

You'll notice there's an FAQ regarding the Book Fair and "checking in" books being sold by authors "on consignment."
 

veinglory

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The motivation related to that, clearly. The outcome was that those authors got less table space, less traffic, and opened half an hour later. Good organization could have prevented it from even appearing to be a '2nd class' room.
 

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I went and read Hugh Howey's blog post titled Being Forced to Sit in the Backlist and he was referring to Liliana Hart when he talked about the 2 million book sales and novel bibliography.

Imagine selling two million books, having half a dozen of your novels hit the New York Times bestseller list, being inundated with thousands of fan emails every month, and then having someone call you an “aspiring writer.”

That’s what happened in New Orleans this weekend, when the planners of the RT Booklovers Convention decided to place self-published authors in a dinky room off to the side while the traditionally published authors sat at tables in the grand ballroom.

Authors like Liliana Hart, who is at the top of the game not just in the romance genre but in all of publishing, was labeled an “Aspiring Author.”

He never mentioned the 'Aspiring Author' bit was about him, and the abuse and snide remarks heaped on him here was not only wrong but uncalled for.
 

shadowwalker

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But it says "Authors like Liliana Hart," (emphasis mine), so that still doesn't point to all SP authors being called that, or if it was Ms Hart personally, or that it was used by everyone connected with the con. If the organizers say it was one misinformed volunteer, well, hell, things like that happen. How many people would have even known about it if someone hadn't gotten all hot and bothered about a reasonable mistake?

I don't think it was a conscious decision to put down indie publishers or SP authors. Unfortunate, definitely, and not well-thought-out, but the deliberate insult some make it out to be? It just doesn't appear that way to me.
 
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