Hugh Howey takes on the Author’s Guild

I’ve not yet read any of Hugh Howey’s work but I’ve heard enough good things about his novels that I recently ordered these. This recent blog post of his has just made me a fan.

Hugh HoweyThey weren’t even supposed to have jobs, these interlopers. They weren’t supposed to earn a living on their own. That’s what the gatekeepers said — men and husbands and fathers. They said this lesser race of people were supposed to be satisfied. They should be grateful to subsist on scraps and on domestic crumbs.

The 1912 textile strikes were led primarily by women, who were treated horribly in the workplace even as they fought to improve conditions for all. The slogan that emerged from the 1912 strikes was: We want bread, but we want roses, too! Women workers demanded fair wages and fair treatment all at once. They fought for an increase in pay and a promise not to be discriminated against.

There are parallels one century later. I don’t want to compare anyone’s working conditions to what women went through at the turn of the 20th century (or today for that matter), but once again we see interlopers fighting for the rights of all workers, even as they fight for dignity and respect. Once again, you have the very people being denigrated and judged and barred from entry working out here on the curb for the better treatment of those on the factory floor.

We have to. Because we sure as hell aren’t getting any help from our leadership.

Scott Turow, the head of the Authors Guild, spends his time fighting for publishers and for bookstores — the very parties who stand between writers and readers. These publishing partners can be great facilitators or they can be great abusers, and it should be the job of the Authors Guild to ensure which. Just as it should be a union’s job to make sure factory and retail don’t harm the transfer of labor to the consumer.

Instead, the Authors Guild came out for price-fixing and higher costs to readers.  Scott Turow sees Amazon as the enemy, even as an increasing number of authors today make a living primarily through self-publishing and e-books. I have yet to see Scott lash out at publishers for their unfair contracts and horrid pay. When HarperCollins released data showing that it makes more from an e-book sale than a hardback sale while the author makes less, where was Scott? Where was anyone representing authors?

I don’t have much of a platform, and nobody should really care what I think  – but this is my blog, so let me tell you where I stand on things these days. And let me also introduce you to the people who stand for me and with me, whether they mean to or not.

I stand for the ability of those who choose to write for a living to have the best opportunities possible. It’s a narrow focus, but it’s one I’m passionate about. I’ve been passionate about this for longer than I’ve been writing. It goes back to my book review and bookstore employee days. As a reader who loved stories, I cared for those who created them. Now that I’m on the other side and have become friends with storytellers, this cause is strengthened. And the more I learn about the abuses authors suffer, the more I want to speak out.

So here’s what I think the Authors Guild should be saying. Here is what their platform should be. (And I’m too busy running a hypothetical publishing house in Houston, so for goodness sake, don’t think I want another job. I don’t):

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