Hugh Howey says Publishers R Bad, Volume: Infinity

Hugh Howey’s latest. I won’t bother dissecting it other than to point out that Hugh’s logic falls apart on many levels, but this one is the easiest example: He says HBO selling its shows direct to consumers is a good example of direct artist-to-audience business models that are the new order of things. Therefore, similarly, in book terms, publishers are no longer necessary, and authors should sell direct to readers.

Except: HBO is not an artist. HBO created, edited, packaged, invested in, marketed, distributed and will continue to manage all the assets of said programs it is selling to the consumers.

That makes HBO a publisher, Hugh.

Hugh’s argument is not applicable or meaningful to book publishing, I guarantee. But it is dazzling in it’s charty, psuedo-statistical appearance.

My bigger point is:

Among a small but very loud faction of indie authors, bashing traditional publishers is a religion. Not just publishers, but the authors who sign with them, who are compared to hostages deluded by Stockholm Syndrome, or misguided souls who need conversion.

You’d expect that kind of high school level taunting from indie authors who’ve left a Big 5 publisher with war stories to tell, or even struggling authors who’ve suffered an inordinate and particularly brutal number of rejections from major houses.

But when highly successful indie authors engage in it, devoting a massive amount of their time and energy to bashing publishers — often with wildly inaccurate commentary and dubious experts chiming in, what’s the motive? Wouldn’t their time be better spent working on issues that help indie authors? Certainly there are plenty of problems facing those who self-publish, especially as Amazon, the biggest platform for indies, routinely throws new challenges into its KDP program.

And yet the loudest voices, the self-styled leaders of the indie authors, spend little time working on issues that benefit their fellow authors and a great deal of time tilting at large windmills that have no bearing on their own success–except, perhaps, for the PR benefits they accrue by posting yet another diatribe for clickbait.

About Deborah Smith

Author, publisher, partner and V.P. of BelleBooks and Bell Bridge Books NYT bestseller A PLACE TO CALL HOME, Wall Street Journal and Kindle bestseller THE CROSSROADS CAFE, also When Venus Fell, Silk and Stone, Charming Grace, and many others.
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