How Hugh Howey Could Have Done It Better

by | Apr 16, 2013 | Book Marketing Basics

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I’m not a huge fan of people who want to dismiss self-publishing as the poor man’s way onto a bookshelf. I care even less for those people who would take advantage of authors seeking to get their books published. When mega-success and self-publishing icon, Hugh Howey, called out a woman he met at WorldCon in a very public (he put it out on his blog) and pretty angry way (read it for yourself) you could hear a collective gasp from fans and industry people who have admired Hugh and his diligent climb to fame. So here’s my thing. I don’t know whether Hugh is a misogynist or if he’s just really pissed off. Look, there are days when I feel like ranting on this blog about misdeeds, people taken advantage of. Candidly, it makes me sick. But when you create a blog post that’s got such a hateful bite to it that no one really pays much mind to the person in question, but rather questions the author of the blog, you’ve missed the point you were trying to make.

Hugh Howie by Wired MagazineThere was an article I read last week (and forgive me, I read so much these days I can’t recall where it was from) and in it they talked about the lack of decorum online. I think that there is a time and a place for a rant but even then unless the person in question is stealing money from the elderly, killing puppies or selling kids into slavery, I’m not sure hateful banter really has a place. The point is that if you’ve been in self-publishing longer than a day, you know that there are and will always be folks who hate it. People who think that only low-lifes publish their own books. There will also be people (and often these are the same folks) who will take money from authors, make big promises and deliver nothing. It’s heartbreaking and dishonest and it happens all the time.

Instead of making this hate-rant on his blog, I wish Hugh had used the considerable platform he has to call this person out – or challenge her to explain herself. People look up to someone like Hugh Howey, and being in that position gives him the best possible opportunity to help, rather than hurt, the market. Unfortunately now he just looks like an angry author with an ax to grind. A colleague said to me, “but if this had been about a man, no one would say anything.” I tend to disagree, and although called him a misogynist, the point isn’t really if he hates women, the point is that when you’re given the gift of such access to so many people, you should be careful how you use it.

Haters are gonna hate, but it doesn’t mean you have to be one of them.

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  1. Starbelly Sputnicky

    I was one of the people shocked and very dismayed by the tone of Howey’s rant, but I think the lesson goes even further.

    Howey apologized to the people he hurt and removed his column. Prior to that, some very ugly words were unleashed in his defense by people who had their own hate-filled agendas. Their words — even more offensive than his — are a matter of public record now, and he and his book are associated with them.

    Maybe there is something to be said for a skilled professional in charge of vetting a writer’s public releases after all. Howey could’ve really used a tight rein.

  2. Al Philipson

    Penny, shame on you for piling on.

    Everyone who wants to pump up their own ratings is taking a swipe at the gentle giant. He doesn’t deserve that.

  3. Penny

    Al, I appreciate that you are a fan of Hugh’s (as am I) but the closing line he used in his blog post is just never appropriate, I think there was a better way to deal with this.


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