Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Author Fame

James Patterson is the richest and most successful author in the US, where apparently one in every seventeen books sold is authored by him. But would you recognise him in the street? What about if you're a fan of his books - would you know him if you stood behind him in the queue at the supermarket checkout? I certainly wouldn't.

Now what about the equivalent Hollywood actor - Tom Hanks? Would you know to ask him for an autograph if he was on the table next to yours in a restaurant? Probably. You might even get a little starstruck and lost for words in the process. What about your favourite sports stars or musicians? Their faces are probably well known, and they are frequently mobbed, or find themselves under virtual house arrest because of the difficulties of going about their daily lives anonymously.

I don't write for the money or the glory, but it strikes me that if I was going to be famous for something, I would really like it to be for writing, if only because all your readers ("fans"?) see of you is a little black-and-white photograph, and that's only if they bother to look at the inside back cover. You get all the good trappings of success - fan mail, financial rewards, the satisfaction of having entertained people - with no need for bodyguards or disguises.

That's not true of every author, of course. Stephenie Meyer (no. 3 on the list) is reputedly not enjoying the pressure of fame at all, and J.K. Rowling (no. 10) is recognised worldwide, but they are the exceptions. When I think of my favourite authors (excluding those above, those I've met in person or those who have also been on TV) I don't think I can picture the faces of any of them. In fact, I've just read The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith which was a superb book, and didn't include a photograph of the author at all. For all I know, he could live on my street.

There is one reason, and one only, that I would like my name to be well known, and that is because I get so fed up with having to spell it to people. In my mind, I see hubby dearest and I checking into a (five star luxury) hotel somewhere, and discovering that the receptionist is a fan. The exchange goes something like this:

Receptionist: What name is the booking under?
Me: Buttimore. That's B-
Receptionist: I know, like as in Anna Jones Buttimore?
Me: That's right.
Receptionist: And can I take your first name?
Me: Anna. Jones.
Receptionist: Oh..!

Yes, I admit it, I'd get quite a thrill out of that. Mostly out of not having to spell out my name, you understand.

No comments: