the author/pedestal thing revisited


Ages ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote a post about the pedestal we readers tend to put authors on and asked if people really wanted to know everything about an author they liked or if they preferred to to keep their distance.  At the time I said

I have to admit that in many ways I LIKE keeping my head in the sand. I WANT an author I enjoy to remain up on that pedestal I put ‘em on.

Despite having encountered – both directly and indirectly – more and more authors via twitter and various blogs, I find my point of view hasn’t changed.  If anything, social media has intensified my feelings.

While fandoms, authors behaving badly, wankfests, etc don’t necessarily happen on a day-to-day basis, the rapid sharing of information means the incidents that do occur become public knowledge very quickly and are widespread.  Human nature tends to focus on the negative and there is no hiding when the instantness of platforms like twitter sees some responding reactively and without consideration.  Lord help those who type before they think because there is always, always someone watching who is ready to hit the retweet button or take a screen shot.

I’m not about to enter into an academic discussion about social media, blah, blah, nor am I going to deny having been an avid spectator to certain events in the past.  I will say, however, the line between private and public seems to be increasingly blurred and, while there are vast benefits to being part of virtual, global communities, there are also considerable costs.

This pertains to the bookmunity too where authors and readers can easily interact; becoming nodding acquaintances as well as close friends.  Accessibility, though, can be a dangerous thing in such cases because the closer the relationship gets, the harder it will fall.  And we’re not talking about a vague topple from that pedestal here.  Instead, it’s a gory cartoon-like massive high-dive face-plant into a tarnished cheap-arse metal thimble of stagnated, toxic water.  Yeah. Owie.

So, yes, as unfair as it is, I don’t want to know if my favourite authors are actually human.

I’d rather hide under the cotton covers of my four-poster bed, softly smiling in my sleep as I lovingly cradle my cherished book and dream of waif-like authors in billowing, gauzy summer dresses who leisurely take their tea on mismatched fading crockery in glorious, sun drenched gardens with gurgling fountains, plump roses and long-haired cats lying languidly on velvet pillows watching colourful birds and shimmering fairies flit across peaceful ponds beneath hooded eyes and lazily twitching tails that caress the naked feet of the beautiful knowing soul who lovingly creates worlds and crafts tales in well-worn handwritten journals just for you…

Hey, if I’m going to romanticise an author I might as well go all the way, right?


About Kris

Reads, rants, randoms & R+s. You've been warned. BTW, don't follow me if you're a GLBTQQphobic wanker. It won't end well. For you.
This entry was posted in authors, maybe it's me but, me, serious randomness, the author pedestal thing, twitter. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to the author/pedestal thing revisited

  1. Kassandra says:

    As much as I enjoy interacting with favorite authors through the ease of the internet, I have to agree on keeping myself at a distance. I have befriended a couple over the years and do not regret it one bit, but those are the rare cases.

    • Kris says:

      I used to be close to quite a few authors of gay romance, but that was several years ago at the early stages of Teh Cray-cray. I was also a major player in a shit storm of epic proportions and those author mates withdrew quick smart. I became a leper. It effected my ego more than anything. With all the wankfests which have occurred since, I’m actually glad to have that distance now. It allows me to read without having my enjoyment of the book being coloured.

  2. Chris says:

    While overall it’s been ok getting to know some authors, there have been some notable wankfests that have quite soured the experience for me.

    Regarding authors I read but don’t know/haven’t met – I don’t even do the Twitter or the Facebook, but haven’t been able to avoid learning too much about authors. 😦

    • Kris says:

      “… there have been some notable wankfests that have quite soured the experience for me.”

      Yes. I’ve also found some of the smaller incidents like a whinge about a review or a bitch about readers to also be off-putting.

      Thank the Book Goddesses, though, the unable to avoid thing hasn’t occurred to me too often and not to any of my absolute favourite authors in the entire world, including, naturally, Sir Terry. I would be utterly devastated if that happened.

  3. Kassa says:

    I’m totally with you on this one Kris. I’ve enjoyed getting to know a few authors in my time but it was always hazy. I’m sure they’re good people but they can’t be totally open and honest with me because there’s always a wall. Like when we went to GRL and it was an author hang out amongst themselves and our witches of east wick group. I get it, but it reminded me that ultimately you can’t really be friends with an author you read or happen to revolve around in the same genre.

    But I do think it extends to all authors. I think they’re way too available and open. I don’t want to know which authors are homophobic (sigh why OSC! You almost ruin the Ender’s series for me with your bigotry) or republicans or asshats. I want to like or dislike their literature based on my tastes. There are some well known m/m authors that I used to like and read and I simply can’t anymore because I know their politics and/or have witnessed their behavior towards myself or others. Once you attempt to be friends with authors I think it only works one way. Complete adoration from the reader. Otherwise reality intrudes.

    At least in my experience.

  4. Kris says:

    That’s been my experience too. Dammit.

    “I think they’re way too available and open.”

    I think the previous barriers, for wont of a better word, between authors and readers are no longer there as a result of the ease of the internet. The notion of privacy and intimacy just doesn’t exist the way it once did.

    I also wonder about the over-saturation of the book industry re: digital publishing and self-publishing. Authors and publishers tend to use social media much more aggressively for promotional purposes, including making personal connections with readers. The adoration thing. But, of course, there can be a major backlash if the author (or publisher) is perceived to act like a dickhead.

    There is also a sense of entitlement now, I think, because of that connection. Readers want and expect a more intimate relationship with an author and, in turn, authors want and expect their book to sell, be read, and enjoyed. It’s a Catch 22.

    • Kassa says:

      You bring up a great point.
      A few months ago I was having this discussion with an author friend (ha! see what I did there? We can only be friends because she’s not in the m/m world and I don’t read her stuff in the genre she writes) but I was advocating a much more restrained online presence. She was claiming that in the publishing world, especially with self publishers or small press authors that the only way to garner any attention and following and thus earning a living is to use social media heavily. We kind of went back and forth about the pros and cons of the topic but she was very insistent that without a strong social media presence authors would never really have an audience. I think that has to be due to the over saturation of the field and the never ending ways of publishing work.

      It’s gone beyond the always changing list of small publishers to endless ways of self publishing. Now that it’s a viable and respected field that can show great returns for an author, there is no publisher or PR department to get author recognition. So they have to do so on their own on social media. Which in turn necessitates some intimacy with the readers given the medium. The casualness of fb and twitter lend an instant connection that feels more meaningful than it perhaps should, leading to your really insightful comment about entitlement.

      I will say that I think backlash on an author still definitely happens but I have to wonder if the consequences are as severe as some might think. For smaller authors any backlash could spell death to an author I imagine but we’ve seen some major scandals happen online that have seemingly had little to no consequence (ie. plagiarism, poor behavior, stalking, misappropriation of funds, etc) and the authors still publish with few “obvious” consequences. Hell even some of the big scandals in m/m such as omg he is a she! haven’t seem to tarnished or affected the authors. Uncomfortable while they happened but all I can think is ultimately they meant little but fodder for blogs.

      • Kris says:

        “So they have to do so on their own on social media. Which in turn necessitates some intimacy with the readers given the medium. The casualness of fb and twitter lend an instant connection that feels more meaningful than it perhaps should, leading to your really insightful comment about entitlement.”

        Yes. Your comment about the casualness of social media made me also think about using first names as salutations between author and reader. It allows for a sense of informality, intimacy and therefore friendliness that might not otherwise be there. This certainly did not happen in the past where agents and PR/marketing departments of publishing houses protected the privacy of authors and, for all intents and purposes, censored and controlled contact with readers. This created a more respectful formality to the relationship, I think.

        “I will say that I think backlash on an author still definitely happens but I have to wonder if the consequences are as severe as some might think.”

        Agreed. The instantness of social media seems to cause an initial flash and burn of controversy, but this wildfire is quickly doused in favour of the next big thing. I reckon a lot of authors, etc must thank their lucky stars about this tendency as well as the fact they can ‘call to arms’ all their minions friends (fellow authors and readers both) to act as said fodder.

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