Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Author Pillory--veinglory


While in principle I think a book should stand on its own, this view seems to be increasingly going out the window. And maybe it is all to inevitable as it becomes more possible to know things about authors that once would never have been shared, or even discoverable.

* Authors talk about branding themself rather than the half dozen publishers they write for.

* Random house added a conduct clause to there contract of children's books manuscripts.

* The RedRoom display site requires authors use their real names: "Red Room is a community of real writers and readers, like you. You are or want to be a writer in real life, so showcase that real life on Red Room by using your full real name and photo."

* Authors seen to have acted egregiously face calls for boycotts and nasty reviews--such as Sandee McCann who was recently revealed to have deserted six children to move to London and marry a man she reportedly met over the internet. (Published by Whiskey Creek, Mystic Moon, Lulu and Publish America and so perhaps not the bestselling author the media seems to imagine...)

And I must admit to being put off by writer vents such as Anne Rice's famous Amazon rant, the 'clickies' campaigns and Annie Proulx's latest jab back at Brokeback fandom after receiving letters offering 'fixed' versions of her obviously deliberately tragic short story: "Brokeback Mountain has had little effect on my writing life, but is the source of constant irritation in my private life."

The more an author enters public areas, on or offline, the more inevitable it becomes that public and private will meet. And whether it is considered right or wrong--Pavlovian associations with mean our feelings about an authors actions may effect our inclination to buy their books.

But each author needs to consider the costs and benefits of what they reveal, and realise the limitation of what they can conceal should a nosey fan really decide to pry. But at the same time engaging with public can be enriching for the author and the readers--entertaining, informative and exciting. There is just a need to for authors to remember that anything that can be known, will potential become public knowledge--and for readers to realise that access to an author persona online is not the same thing as making a one-to-one friend.

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