15 April 2013

In which a great self-publishing discussion gets a little WOOLly

Over the weekend, self-published success story Hugh Howey removed a blog post on his website he deemed too mean, but that could have led to a great discussion. The post detailed an encounter with a person at the Hugo Awards who, apparently unfamiliar with his work, was fairly rude to Howey about his decision to self-publish (sorta, now) and denigrated him to a greener writer.

There is a fair amount roiling below the surface of this tale -- a summoning up of old insecurities that Howey may have felt, despite his runaway success; a glimpse of the awkwardness of all conferences, even outside the literary halls; a note of aggrievement, perhaps, that the author was not recognized, or was it a note of relief that he could pass through and get to know the general public? And beyond that a great sea of questions about the interaction of authors who are published within the Big Six (or "traditional" or "brick-and-mortar" publishers, or however you like to term them) and those who take an alternate route, by chance or on purpose.

But we won't be having that discussion over this post, because Howey titled his entry "The Bitch From Worldcon," spent most of it ripping on her appearance and "crazy" manner, and ended it with a... fantasy? in which it is implied he goes onstage later, to her chagrin, and invites her to perform favors on him. 'Cause, chicks, right? How dare they act contrarily?!

I'm still fuming but here are some way better analyses on what happened at Worldcon: A great blog post called Does A Nasty Artist Make For Terrible Art? has screenshots of the offending piece, which Howey eventually removed at the behest of his wife, but also an examination of how much our authors' personal failings bear on their art. Lamptime Is Over continues the actual discussion I wish we could have over this, writing (as a self-published author) that "self-publishing is never going to have the legitimacy people want until they stop acting like they’re being assailed from all sides." And Jenny Trout at Sweaters for Days positions it as a teachable moment for how to approach authors at conventions like Worldcon.

It is just a shame that Howey felt so cowed by this one person, who probably regrets something she said in that encounter but sure as heck won't be apologizing now, that he had to take the slimy gender-attack approach to taking her down. Resorting to "well, she was ugly and crazy" is just bad storytelling.


P said...

Sigh, I just got into Wool too. I saw that post on his blog last week and read through some of the first comments, and it was a sad thing.

P said...

Ugh, also the comments on his apology posts are mostly discouraging, though I shouldn't be surprised. When will I learn to stop reading the comments?!