Sorry for the very short entry; due to a lot of personal upheaval, I haven’t been feeling the desire to write at all, not even rambling essays such as this. I hope you’ll forgive the sparse, unimaginative prose that is likely to grace my entries until further notice.
I know it’s probably a little premature to be thinking about fans of your writing, especially if, like me, you haven’t actually finished anything yet. However, fans are part of the hypothetical audience you are writing for, people like you who are interested in the kinds of stories you tell. But on another writing blog, I ran across the question, “Would you like to be a bestseller or have a smaller, more manageable following?”
It’s not as straightforward as it looks.
Yes, perhaps on the surface most writers would love to be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin and make oodles of money and never have to work a regular non-writing job again. Me, I wouldn’t mind raking in that kind of money, but I seriously doubt my literary career will take off in such a spectacular fashion.
And, honestly, I’m not sure that I’d want it to.
I’m a shy person, an introvert by nature. Crowds of people unnerve and drain me, so while I would enjoy the monetary benefits of being a bestseller, I don’t think I’d like the fame as much. (Granted, authors usually don’t get as much fame as singers and actors, but there is still some publicity involved.) Whenever I get comments on my artwork or fanfiction or cosplay or blog entries, I always make an effort to reply to each one. I like giving personalized attention to the people who show that they like my work, and may want to see more. I could manage that with a smaller following of fans; anything really huge and there wouldn’t be enough time to give individual responses.
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy getting attention, praise, and credit for my work. I mean, that is the point of writing after all, to communicate and share stories and we can’t do that in a vacuum. Yes, I want to like the stories I write, but I want other people to like them as well, and tell me that they like them. (And if they don’t, I like to know why.) But I also enjoy my privacy and the ability to go out in public and not be swamped by people. For example, Stephen King had to stop going to conventions because people would swarm him and he had to put up a huge fence around his home. Doesn’t sound very fun or stress-free, does it?
I’m hoping that any fans of my work will come from the fantasy and anime communities, since I’m part of them myself and love stories in those genres. I’d like to perhaps one day be asked to give a panel on my stories or writing process at a con like Peter S. Beagle. I think that would be rather fun and interesting. I’d like to have a smaller, dedicated group of fans who really like my writing and are positively influenced by it, rather than a massive mob who are only slightly acquainted with the genre. Of course, fantasy tends to still be a more niche and nerd territory, so I’m more likely to have that kind of following by virtue of it being fantasy. (Most readers of mainstream fiction have little to no interest in fantasy novels.)
And I hope that enough people like my work so I can (start) to making a living doing what I love rather than what I must.
One thought on “Follow the Leader”
I think I'd be happy with whatever kind of success I manage to get. Be it modest or insane, I'd take it. I don't really see a problem with either. While I can see how others might not want that kind of attention, I don't think I'd mind.