Hugh Howey on the RT conference in New Orleans

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Kylabelle

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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.

I have two comments about this, Avatar_fan. First, Howey's remark about Hart's being labeled "Aspiring Author" is itself kind of strange, in light of what else has been said in-thread here about the use of that term. If in fact Hart is published and at the top of her game, I don't understand who labeled her that way. It makes no sense.

My second comment is that to my reading, there has been no "abuse and snide remarks heaped on" Hugh Howey in this thread. If you're going to make blanket accusations of that kind, you need to be a lot more specific. In particular I strongly encourage you to use the Report Post button if you see a post you feel is snide, rude, or abusive. It is the little button inside a red triangle. Use it. :)

However, I suggest instead that we all take a breath and not let defensiveness get the better of us. I don't think the RT event organizers meant any offense, though I expect veinglory is correct that things could have been handled more equally. That's really a shame, but honestly, why not focus on how to prevent that in the future, instead of taking sides against each other?

Hugh Howey's statement, including its title, is just a bit inflammatory, and I don't personally think that's necessary or useful.
 
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MacAllister

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<snip> [HH posted], "Authors like Liliana Hart, <snip>... was..."

You're going to take publishing advice from someone with so little control over his own language as to make that kind of subject/verb agreement error?

(And while that's an arguably snide observation, it hardly qualifies as "abuse"...")
 
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Torgo

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My second comment is that to my reading, there has been no "abuse and snide remarks heaped on" Hugh Howey in this thread. If you're going to make blanket accusations of that kind, you need to be a lot more specific. In particular I strongly encourage you to use the Report Post button if you see a post you feel is snide, rude, or abusive. It is the little button inside a red triangle. Use it. :)

Yes, I'm not seeing any abuse either.

Hugh Howey's statement, including its title, is just a bit inflammatory, and I don't personally think that's necessary or useful.

Just to say - appropriating the language of the civil rights movement in this context is - IMHO - tasteless, ridiculous, and insulting. Self-publishing is not a civil rights movement, for heaven's sake, it's a business model.
 

quicklime

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so...I skipped page 2, but wait....he sort of implied HE was getting screwed over, but no, wait, it wasn't actually him, he was merely playing the Lorax, speaking for the self-pubbed, because the self-pubbed have no tongues.....except wait, a lot of them were fine, and there was this issue of them having to take free booths, where big publishers bought big booths, like at, yanno, ANY trade show.....

this is the same guy who said "suck it, bitch," until he realized folks found that offensive (how weird, its the first thing I say at job interviews and stuff) then back-pedaled to say he didn't actually SAY that, he only THOUGHT it actually.......



so, RYFW and all that, I gather he's a great writer, and it seems from his multiple debacles like this one that he should be: He's clearly entirely comfortable with fiction. :rolleyes
 

Sheryl Nantus

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Let's not forget that Mr. Howey is a self-appointed SP guru and needs to keep feeding the fire.

I would be wary of any future posts from him since he seems to be "post first, check later" when it comes to putting up flame bait.

He reminds me of Joe Konrath - if there's a chance to bash publishers, go ahead. Get the peeps riled up and oh, don't forget to buy my book on the way out to burn down those bookstores...

;)
 

tethys77

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Just to say - appropriating the language of the civil rights movement in this context is - IMHO - tasteless, ridiculous, and insulting. Self-publishing is not a civil rights movement, for heaven's sake, it's a business model.

Segregation doesn't autmatically imply racial or any other trait used to do the classifying. If you choose to link it to racial segregation, that's your baggage.

For a forum that's so completely hung up on words and their definitions (don't say Trad Pub- they'll send out the hounds) you'd think people would notice that segregation only means "separation from" and that anything could be used to do the sorting.

And as for calling self-publishing a business model, it obviously ends up being a business model, but it's also the only way some people can be published and therefore not really a decision they made willingly.

Pretending that everyone who self-publishes does so simply for business/economic reasons really doesn't give a nuanced picture of the writing/publishing landscape of today.

Even in a world where a few self-publishers have repeatedly made the NYT bestseller list, self-published authors still don't get as much respect as they should.

Whether or not anyone officially associated with RT intended to call self-published/indie authors "aspiring," let's all keep in mind that back in Oct of 2013, sp/indie authors were unhappy because registration for RT 2014 only lasted a week for them and they were wait-listed very early on compared to trade pub authors.

Only approx. 250 sp/indie authors were at RT2014 compared to approx. 450 trade pub authors. They were separated (If you like that term better) into two rooms, one much smaller than the other. It appears that from the outset RT planners had always intended to enforce that separation by limiting of the number of sp/indies that could register (allowing any more to attend would mean they'd have to be seated in the bigger ballroom).

The self pub/indie authors paid the exact same price for a spot at the tables, but trade pubbed authors got 3 feet of space while the sp/indies (who were promised 3 feet as well) only got 1.5 feet or less.

Sp/indies also had to ship in their own books with nowhere to store them and haul them back and forth themselves on the day of signing. It's not as though they were given any discounts to account for the fact that the RT organizers had to do less work on their behalf.

So in short, the sp/indies forked over the same amount of money, but they were given far less than was promised while still having to take care of quite a few number of tasks themselves.

I think it denotes a serious issue that needs to be addressed. It appears as though the RT con organizers only begrudgingly allow sp/indies to attend their convention and then only do so to make money off them (which, granted, is the point of the con). However, they appear to be maximizing the profit they make off sp/indies by charging for services that they have no actual intention of delivering.
 
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tethys77

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Self publishing is...

Says who?

If you want to pretend that trade publishing is an everyman's game where anyone with a 10,000 word Game of Thrones fanfic knockoff can get published by Simon and Schuester, well, nothing I say is going to convince you otherwise.
 

Torgo

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Segregation doesn't autmatically imply racial or any other trait used to do the classifying. If you choose to link it to racial segregation, that's your baggage.

If I were talking about 'segregation' you'd have a point, but I was actually talking about the 'back of the bus' comparison Howey makes in his blog title, which explicity invokes Jim Crow. So not my baggage, no.

For a forum that's so completely hung up on words and their definitions (don't say Trad Pub- they'll send out the hounds)

We are a writers' forum, so yes, words are important. In terms of 'traditional' vs 'trade', we have what amounts to a house style, and members are asked to use the house terms here specifically so that we don't waste time arguing about definitions.

And as for calling self-publishing a business model, it obviously ends up being a business model, but it's also the only way some people can be published and therefore not really a decision they made willingly.

Pretending that everyone who self-publishes does so simply for business/economic reasons really doesn't give a nuanced picture of the writing/publishing landscape of today.

I don't really understand this. How does any of this justify Rosa Parks language? Also, if you can't get trade published, it's for the business reasons of the trade publisher, no?

Even in a world where a few self-publishers have repeatedly made the NYT bestseller list, self-published authors still don't get as much respect as they should.

Except insofar as those few self-publishers get big trade publishing contracts, like Howey, Hocking et al...? It strikes me that the respect the industry affords to SP authors is pretty much in line with how many books they're selling? Isn't it actually the case that everyone in the book trade (and elsewhere) feels they don't get enough respect, enough attention?

I think it denotes a serious issue that needs to be addressed. It appears as though the RT con organizers only begrudgingly allow sp/indies to attend their convention and then only do so to make money off them (which, granted, is the point of the con). However, they appear to be maximizing the profit they make off sp/indies by charging for services that they have no actual intention of delivering.

I don't know the detail of the arrangements made for trade authors and publishers as opposed to self-publishers, so I won't address that - other people can pick up on those points. But this is clearly an evolving situation and an evolving market, and there will be problems that need to be worked through. In my opinion, though, making offensive 'back of the bus' comparisons is unhelpful hyperbole.
 

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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.

I'm trying to figure out how the room opened a half hour later for some folks but right on time for me. Who was in the same room.
 

williemeikle

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If you want to pretend that trade publishing is an everyman's game where anyone with a 10,000 word Game of Thrones fanfic knockoff can get published by Simon and Schuester, well, nothing I say is going to convince you otherwise.


And if you want to pretend that just because something is difficult then there's no merit in aiming for it, that's up to you.
 

Perks

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If you want to pretend that trade publishing is an everyman's game where anyone with a 10,000 word Game of Thrones fanfic knockoff can get published by Simon and Schuester, well, nothing I say is going to convince you otherwise.

Hang on, are you saying that everyman with one of those should be published by Simon and Schuester?
 

thethinker42

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I was there. I qualified for either room, but chose not to sign for reasons that aren't relevant to the discussion. I was there, though, spending time in both rooms.

The *entire* signing opened late for the same reason one section was put in a separate room: because the New Orleans fire Marshall was on site and having a fit about the number of people in that space. The ebook section was not held up any more than the larger room was.

Keeping this short because I'm on my phone, but as a largely ebook/small press author who was, you know, there, I'm a bit baffled by this whole kerfuffle.
 

williemeikle

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I was there. I qualified for either room, but chose not to sign for reasons that aren't relevant to the discussion. I was there, though, spending time in both rooms.

The *entire* signing opened late for the same reason one section was put in a separate room: because the New Orleans fire Marshall was on site and having a fit about the number of people in that space. The ebook section was not held up any more than the larger room was.

Keeping this short because I'm on my phone, but as a largely ebook/small press author who was, you know, there, I'm a bit baffled by this whole kerfuffle.

I think it's pretty obvious by now that it's a storm in a teacup, caused by someone opening their mouth without engaging their critical faculties and checking on actual facts first.
 

quicklime

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I think it's pretty obvious by now that it's a storm in a teacup, caused by someone opening their mouth without engaging their critical faculties and checking on actual facts first.

FWIW, hugh was an aw member. I remember him, well. A search here to examine the logic and behavior in past posts might be revealing for folks who feel poor hugh is being treated unfairly; this incident is hardly an outlier.
 

quicklime

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Hang on, are you saying that everyman with one of those should be published by Simon and Schuester?


that was my thought as I read this.


self-pub is somewhat looked down upon in some circles. The completely half-assed arguments, back-of-the-bus flamebait, blaming imaginary "gatekeepers" (if there are gatekeepers, there are in any industry; this is like a craft knitter calling JC Penneys "evil gatekeepers" simply because more people shop there and Penneys demands a certain level of consistency and quality to be part of their buying), etc. only serves to reinforce the "not ready for prime time" stereotype martyrs like hugh want to rail against.....
 

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I think we should also remember re: using two rooms that rooms only have so much floor space. It doesn't really matter how many total authors signed up - you can only fit so many bodies in a finite space. And, no matter what method is used to divide up the people, you don't book two rooms of equal size if you don't need them to be of equal size for the number of people using them (not to mention that most places that book these things don't necessarily have two or more huge rooms - or have them available at the same time).

And it seems to me that several have noted it wasn't only SP authors in the second room. That was not the criteria used. So I'm not sure why it's being slanted as a deliberate insult to SPs (well, I do, but...).
 

Sheryl Nantus

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I think it's pretty obvious by now that it's a storm in a teacup, caused by someone opening their mouth without engaging their critical faculties and checking on actual facts first.

But... the blogging! The freaking! The threatening! The freaking! The...

Yeah. Too much drama.

But it's all about staying in the spotlight. No matter how you get it, hmm?

;)
 

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If you want to pretend that trade publishing is an everyman's game where anyone with a 10,000 word Game of Thrones fanfic knockoff can get published by Simon and Schuester, well, nothing I say is going to convince you otherwise.

It might be useful to make a distinction between the author and the work here.

Some works, such as a clunky and predictable first novel or a "Game of Thrones fanfic knockoff" may not be trade-publishable. But that's not to say that authors cannot then turn around and write things that are trade-published.

It's not about the people. It's not a cult of personality. It's about the work. Trade publishers accept works that they think that the public will buy in large enough numbers to make a profit.
 

Calla Lily

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It might be useful to make a distinction between the author and the work here.

Some works, such as a clunky and predictable first novel or a "Game of Thrones fanfic knockoff" may not be trade-publishable. But that's not to say that authors cannot then turn around and write things that are trade-published.

It's not about the people. It's not a cult of personality. It's about the work. Trade publishers accept works that they think that the public will buy in large enough numbers to make a profit.

QFT.
 

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All the self-pubs were in that room so it was a criteria used. Some other non-NY-published categories like small press were there also. And once there they got less table space than people in the other room. IMHO that alone is enough to register a complaint over. If they had separated the rooms alphabetically this would all just be an unfortunate mishap.

But RT should know that they have a long history of putting their foot in it with "lesser" authors and do what is necessary to uphold equal treatment. Otherwise we will have this discussion next year just as we did this year and the year before.

Even if it means delaying opening for everyone, not just the 2nd room, and involves a bit of running back and forth--it is simply not a good idea at this point to split rooms by anything other than arbitrary coding like name. That's what will bring this type of kerfuffle to an end.

As for the 'they actually are lesser authors' defense. Well, that is kind of the point here. These people are not agreeing with that assessment. And in the case of the top small/self and the bottom trade--there is certainly overlap by metrics like total sales/profit/fanbase. So a true meritocracy would divide them by that kind of measure and just be honest about it.
 
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veinglory

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I would add that when I signed at RT several years ago they manage to have the returnables and non-returnables interspersed. So apparently it is doable.
 

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Apparently it was the world's largest mass signing....

There were a lot of people there and many who just came for the day.

Also, I really didn't expect to have the same amount of space as someone like Silvia Day. (Nor the mass of people she got.)
 

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If I were talking about 'segregation' you'd have a point, but I was actually talking about the 'back of the bus' comparison Howey makes in his blog title, which explicity invokes Jim Crow. So not my baggage, no.

I don't really understand this. How does any of this justify Rosa Parks language? Also, if you can't get trade published, it's for the business reasons of the trade publisher, no?

Hugh Howey has pretty much made himself as famous for his inflammatory statements as he has with WOOL. It's up to you if you want to add fuel to his fire by calling out the nature of his remarks rather than just talking about the substance of them. I could be wrong, but I don't think pointing it out to him will make any difference.

Except insofar as those few self-publishers get big trade publishing contracts, like Howey, Hocking et al...? It strikes me that the respect the industry affords to SP authors is pretty much in line with how many books they're selling? Isn't it actually the case that everyone in the book trade (and elsewhere) feels they don't get enough respect, enough attention?

It's not really a question of attention. What stood out to me was the fact that sp/indies had to pay the same amount as trade pubbed authors but at the actual event, they got nothing close to the same treatment.

I don't know the detail of the arrangements made for trade authors and publishers as opposed to self-publishers, so I won't address that - other people can pick up on those points. But this is clearly an evolving situation and an evolving market, and there will be problems that need to be worked through. In my opinion, though, making offensive 'back of the bus' comparisons is unhelpful hyperbole.

It is unhelpful, which is why I just ignored it and moved on to the substance of the problem. I've seen screenshots of people's RT registration forms. They are no different for sp/indies than they are for trade authors. So it appears as though RT will treat all authors the same right up until they get their $484 registration fee, and then all promises and equal treatment go right out the window.

I think that's a more serious problem than whether or not Howey uses inflammatory language or whether any volunteers at RT referred to indies as "aspiring". If the "aspiring" comment was made, and RT confirms that it was, and it was a simple mistake, which RT claims that it was, then okay. I will accept those explanations. I even accept Courtney Milan's guess that authors were separated based on returnability of titles.

But none of this addresses why indies are being charged the same amount to appear at author signings while getting nowhere near what they were told they were paying for.

If RT would have been upfront and honest about what was going to happen (sp/indies were going to be put in another room), there would have been less outcry. If they had taken an extra step and explained why it was like that (if Milan is correct about returnability) there would have been even less outcry.

Then all we would be left with is figuring out why 35% of RT authors are essentially footing the bill for the other 65 (and arguably the WRONG 35% at that.)
 
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