“Fame Comes at a Price – Dealing With Fans is Hard Work”
I have often said “I don’t write for fortune, but definitely for fame.” I realize that my chances of getting that elusive big book deal is slim to none, and that even within the independently published author circles I can still be small potatoes compared to those who do this gig full-time. I have an ‘Evil Day Job’ that helps pay my bills. So for me, I don’t necessarily write for the money it might eventually bring me, but for the joy of having people not only read my creations, but for the millions (and growing) of readers that now know my name.
For many people out there who strived to eventually become famous, however, the sudden catapult into the limelight can be a very daunting place. Some people may have become famous by accident, or they may have not realized they would become famous quit so quickly. The harsh reality of fame is that you are going to come across more than your fair share of assholes, obsessed fans, and those people who may be slightly off their rocker. For many fans, the way that the famous person acts can strongly affect the way the fans feel towards that person.
Anne Rice, for example, seems to take much joy in conversing with her fans and makes herself available to them as often as possible, not only through book signings, but through her FaceBook page as well. I find it incredibly refreshing that she takes the time to not only post on her FB page, but to respond to fans and their posts as often as possible. Of course, when each of your posts can garner thousands of responses, reading each and every one of them, much less responding to each of them, would be a near impossible task. However, just knowing that she tries to interact with her fans on a personal level has earned her great respect from both me and many other avid readers and fans.
There have been times, though, that some of her actions have been questionable, such as when she brings to light a bad review that someone has given her. To be fair, she links to both good and bad reviews of her work, giving opportunity to fans to weigh in on both positive and negative opinions. I am not quite sure, however, that she realizes the power she holds when she links to such content. When you are virtually a household name, linking to some random blog article can cause great harm as well as make a previously unknown blog suddenly followed by hundreds. If, for some reason, Anne Rice were to find this article interesting enough to link to, I would not know whether to jump for joy or change my name. I guess that would all depend on whether or not she appreciated by own warped sense of respect, or thought I was trying to trash her reputation. In any event, before everyone breaks out the torches and pitch forks, let me go on record by stating I am a very big Anne Rice fan.
Of course, there are also those famous people who have used their fame to take advantage of their fans. While I am a huge Bret Michaels fan, giving him credit as my mentor and even going so far as to dedicate my last novel to him, I find it incredibly disturbing that he closed down his fan club to instead charge fans hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of dollars just to have the opportunity to meet him. While the business major in me applauds his efforts, the artist in me finds this practice to be completely disgusting. It is why I have so much respect for Anne Rice and why Bret has faded in my eyes over the past few years. It is also why I will once again state, “The day I charge my fans just to meet me will be the day I stop writing” While I don’t mind spending $20 on a poster of Bret and have him autograph it, I refuse to pay him for some imaginary “honor” his PR person came up with just to be graced by his presence. I love you, Bret, but get over yourself. And Anne, thank you for not being so full of shit and self-importance that you think your fans are now beneath you.
In addition, I find the famous person who strove so hard to get his name out there to suddenly start screaming, “I need my privacy!” to be an utter enigma. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why someone would put so much time, energy, and effort into getting their name and face known to millions across the country only to want to make their fans feel bad for trying to have something to do with them. Why strive for fame if you do not want to be bothered? It’s like working yourself to the bone for a decade trying to make your company a success only to bitch about that success once it has been achieved. If it is too much work and aggravation, why did you start on this journey in the first place?
I knew going into this whole writing gig that if I were to become well-known, there would no longer be any such thing as a private life. However, I think that the sudden dip into the spotlight catches a lot of people off guard. I feel that many, many people do not see what lies beyond those fifteen minutes of fame. They only see themselves at the moment when everyone knows them; they seldom look beyond that point to see that with fame comes millions of screaming fans who all want to be your friend, to get to know you, and to ask you tons, and I do mean tons, of utterly ridiculous questions. It can be quite overwhelming, so I can totally see why some people would want to move beyond that spotlight and fade away into the background once their fifteen minutes are up.
So for all those out there who are searching for your fifteen minutes of fame, and those who may have already found it and maybe suffering from whiplash, you need to remember to be very tactful when dealing with fans. You have to keep in mind that those people made you; they can just as easily break you. Trying to alienate them, force them to leave you alone, insult them, or make them feel as if you are better than them can not only piss them off, but if you piss enough of them off at once, they can turn their back on you. Even those who found fame and wants to leave the limelight for a quite life still craves the fame every now and again; how would you feel if you suddenly discovered yourself no longer being held up on the pedestal by millions of fans as you once were, but now find yourself loathed and hated by those herds you so carelessly insulted?
Fame, as well as fans, is fickle. I have tried very hard over the years to interact with as many readers as possible. I have been stalked, harassed, had to change my blog and screen name on more than one occasion, and been proposed to by hundreds of people as well as asked by thousands of men to do some very naughty acts. But I get it; I know that being a writer of the erotic will garnish me much attention, both good and bad. What sets me apart, and shows others what type of person I really am, is how I act, and react, to this attention. So to my fellow writers I say, be careful what you wish for, and be tactful when your wish is fulfilled. And to my readers I say, bring on the questions. No one understands the power of words quite like a writer.