The end of the "celebrity author"?

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TL Rese
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Re: The end of the "celebrity author"?

Post by TL Rese » December 19th, 2011, 7:10 am

"Ten years is an INCREDIBLY long time. I don't think I could stand 10 years of "practice" before "bursting out of the gate." In that case I'd be close to 30, and no offense, but man, seriously, by 21st-century standards, that is OOOOOLLLD. (The fact that I'm 19 and haven't done anything, in nano- and NaNo-years I'm "tech"nically a fossil already.)"

- haha. i was near your age when i first started on the long and windy novelist path, and i remember thinking the Exact same thing back then, when i was told about the 10yrs thing. then BAM! next thing i knew, i'm 29 - almost the dreaded 3-0. but your perspective changes - "old" is always 10yrs older than you are. and what most people don't tell you in our youth-obsessed culture is that there are good things about getting older - more freedom, more agency, more control over your own life - i definitely like being 29 more than i liked being 19.

bottom line - 10yrs might seem like a long time, but - it's not. treasure every moment of your 20s, because they will breeze by you!

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Re: The end of the "celebrity author"?

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 13th, 2012, 1:42 pm

Mira wrote:Rachel - I highly recommend college. Not just because it improves your chances in the job market (it does. Someone with a B.A. in anything is always a step ahead of someone without it), but because it's a wonderful thing for your mind. College helps people broaden their viewpoint. It introduces them to a broader way of thinking about things, as well as exposing them to new viewpoints.
Well, judging by the current marketplace, I'd say that anyone's job prospects with a degree in anything other than IT would be in the fields of culinary arts or marketing.

AKA Mickey Dee's or Wal-Mart. :roll:

I hear you can get a nice PR job at the front of the store giving out smiley stickers. :x
Mira wrote:College helps people broaden their viewpoint.
No, it fattens the wallets of whoever's in charge. The faculty, the administration, the education industry in general...
Mira wrote:It introduces them to a broader way of thinking about things, as well as exposing them to new viewpoints.
Unless you're a future prospect for Penn State or Syracuse, where those poor kids were exposed to something else. :shock: Catholic school is a good foundation for this, as we all found out as well. :evil:
Mira wrote:Besides, you're so intelligent, you'd love college. You'd have a blast there - especially if you went to a decent one with other bright students. Try to go.
Thanks for the compliment, but no thanks for the college. (AKA So long and thanks for all the B.S.) :lol: Besides, really the only thing you learn writing research papers is how to write research papers. That kind of job skill doesn't serve you well except if you're in a research position. In terms of gaining "experience" for things to write about (and having a little bit of pocket change), I'd rather go for one of those oddball careers like professional organizer or Feng Shui practitioner. I hate the whole system of A's, B's and C's, and would prefer to do something on a pass/fail basis, or for skills/enrichment, rather than alphabet soup. :|

I'm not one of those people who cares to spend time mindlessly socializing either. To me there are more important things that need to be addressed in this world besides whatever people chat about over coffee -- or "virtual coffee," nowadays, since most everyone "my age" is Wastebooked or Twitfaced anyway. :x (Including five-year-olds, leap day or no leap day.)

I was looking into one of those online writers' workshops, like Gotham Writers or L.A. Writers' Lab, rather than an actual English degree, but they are way too expensive, and sadly, financial aid doesn't cover these sort of things. Nor does it cover professional organizer or other career education. It doesn't even pay for real estate school. You have to go to college-college or else pay on your own. (Something tells me I'm going to end up occupying some street and receive all my correspondence there. Along with the whole lot of homeless postal carriers when the postage stamp and "snail mail" go the way of the Pony Express.)
Mira wrote:Also, the age thing. Imho, one of the saddest things about this youth oriented culture is it makes people scared to grow older. Which is tragic - partly because it's an inevitability, and it's sad to be afraid of something that is inevitable - but also because growing older brings many gifts. There is a loss, of course, but getting older can be a wonderful thing. It brings deeper understanding, greater centeredness, lessons learned from the resolution of challenges, comfort with yourself and others, and wisdom.
Deeper understanding = "coulda/shoulda/woulda" (AKA Sinatra syndrome: "Regrets, I've had a few...")
Greater centeredness = uh... muffin top? :lol: ("I can't believe it's not Buddha!")
Lessons learned from the resolution of challenges = New Year's resolution not to make any more New Year's resolutions :roll:
Comfort with yourself and others = settling for less :( (See #1 above)
Wisdom (of the ages) = Alzheimer's/dementia :shock:

(I know of people who still refer to that last one as Old Timers' Disease. :roll: Most of them, no surprise, are... old timers.) ;)
Mira wrote:Of course, being older has it's difficulties, too, like the loss of a young body, but there are definitely compensations.
You mean "worker's compensation"? Like when you get thrown out of whatever job you have, if you've even got one, and have worked there for a good amount of time, with a crappy "severance package," for a young, perky twenty-something or worse, an ageless, immortal AI robot? (All the while thinking to yourself about the boss, hm, I'd like to sever his package?) :twisted: Or that if you try to get a first job at 50 you're SOL because it's only 20-year-olds (and robots, and 20-year-olds who can program the robots) they're hiring anymore? :?
Mira wrote:Besides, science does back this up. Research has definitely shown that the more birthdays you have, the longer you live. ;)
AKA another year older and closer to Death. (Boy, you know you're old beyond your years when you paraphrase a Tennessee Ernie Ford tune.) :lol:
Cookie wrote:Can I just say that you have a frightening obsession with the 27 club?
Yeah, I know, first rule of 27 club is don't talk about 27 club. ;) I won't technically be there until I'm 108 years old anyway, though. :D

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Re: The end of the "celebrity author"?

Post by Mira » January 13th, 2012, 4:50 pm

Rachel, I could be wrong, but it doesn't really sound to me like you're interested in a different perspective or a dialogue. That's alittle sad to me, because I was trying to communicate something you might find valuable. However, you seem set on your own course and comfortable with it, so I'll just wish you the best.

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Re: The end of the "celebrity author"?

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 13th, 2012, 6:55 pm

Mira wrote:Rachel, I could be wrong, but it doesn't really sound to me like you're interested in a different perspective or a dialogue. That's alittle sad to me, because I was trying to communicate something you might find valuable. However, you seem set on your own course and comfortable with it, so I'll just wish you the best.
Mira, I didn't mean to come across as stubborn or hostile. I'm more afraid and disillusioned and doubtful of my own abilities and prospects for the future. Mostly because I don't like who I am, though I like my ideas and what's on my creative to-do list, but would rather those creative to-dos become "dones" and "well-dones" without a lot of "pick me, pick me!" from the writer/artist herself. Koontz, as mentioned in the initial post, became the Dean Koontz with a safety net from his company, rather than all by himself, which is what he'd have to do today. If he went by WWJDD (What would J.D. do?) or like Pynchon, apply paper bag directly over the forehead, there's no way he'd be where he is today.

The market sucks right now, not just the publishing market but the economy in general. I realize that, and that's a big worry for me too. I personally don't have a "course" that I'm set on; rather I'm flailing and sailing without a compass. I'm also very nostalgic for a time I wasn't even a part of because I wasn't born yet; the halcyon days when J.D. Salinger could squirrel himself away to his cabin in the woods, and Catcher in the Rye still be a bestseller and not forgotten. Maybe it was because the book inadvertently marketed the author's personality, since Holden Caulfield is often considered one of the most famous author surrogates in history. It's gonzo publishing, and no one should have to be as much a character as Hunter S. Thompson, at least not publicly, in order to be accomplished/recognized.

But in order to receive accolades in this gonzo publishing era, one has to basically prostitute him/herself all over the internet and advocate for oneself, because there's no Maurice the pimp who's going to help you out and take notice if you aren't already, well, "active." (It's so much like Vegas that I do both fear and loathe it.) I lament that I wasn't "grandfathered" into the days before 24/7 marketing prospects where an absolute requirement for "breaking in," and I also don't think it's that pub co's don't have the money to spend on bolstering a new author, but that they just don't want to spend that money and "gamble" on something/someone new. The name can practically sell itself if it's Grisham, Evanovich, King or the aforementioned Koontz. They don't need any PR from the companies; other, newer writers do. I don't feel a writer him/herself should have to be Clio-worthy or do the whole social networking thing in order to be accomplished or a household name; I don't think a future Grisham should have to familiarize him/herself with the DMCA and fair use regarding his/her Facebook page or blog. Eugenides can't stand social networking websites, but then, he's Eugenides; his last name itself sounds like some one-named ascetic: Aristophanes, Ulysses, Eugenides. I don't understand why writers have to "hustle" and network with anyone other than the people who are going to put the actual book on shelves; I get that it's readers who will take them off, but that to me sounds like when presidential candidates shake voters' hands and kiss babies and put themselves up for embarrassing interviews just to get votes. Disingenuous, pointless, and... phony.

I sure would like to be the next Grisham or Evanovich, but I don't want to be a people person or some hapless idiot on Twitter, amid the likes of Ashton "Dude Where's My Fact-Checker" Kelso, Schweddy Baldwin, the Jersey Shore cast and Justin "The Omen" Bieber. It strikes me as bitterly ironic that writers actually embrace this stuff, and well established ones at that; Margaret Atwood has got to be in her 80s and she's on Twitter. Salman Rushdie's probably getting RSS feeds from Al Jazeera to make sure Cat Stevens isn't following him like a moon shadow on Four Square. Neil Gaiman married some punk rock singer he met through that site. And an actual book derived from the spit that Twitter says, Expletives William Shatner Told Me or something to that effect. Meanwhile J.K. Rowling has a total of about four tweets, all of them saying something like "I'll get around to this at some point." But again, they're already established names probably just doing this for fun. People nowadays who want to be the next Atwood or Rushdie are absolutely mandated to do this, and in doing so waste time they could be writing something worthwhile rather than advertising their favorite brand of unmentionables. (Which I'm sure I could be too if I weren't blabbering about all this.)

I guess I'm ranting in a big way against corporate America, against the Internet, against the "15 megabytes of fame" culture that the Internet has basically created, and against the fact that resistance is futile, you will be assimilated, or perish in obscurity. And that it's every man, woman, child and Muggle for him/herself, no more hand-holding or babysitting from the big boys; blog or be damned, and by the way no one wants to read your book anyway because muahaha, we the Twitterati have social-engineered a world of twits who are now physically unable to comprehend anything past 140 characters. Quote the fail whale, nevermore! :shock:

But... I'm also ranting with despair in that I feel like I'll be left in the dust unless I force myself to struggle with Facebook and Twitter. Neither of which is a guarantee for Grisham-level status, leading me to wonder if those days are over, once and for all, no matter how many tweeps or likes or thumbs-up or fingers thrown one has. And that social networking itself is cheapening and degrading, much like stripping or prostitution, the real kind, are too. I sure would like to reach that status, but because I'm not at all self-confident, I doubt if I ever will. I wouldn't mind face-to-face networking with someone(s) who could pick up the slack; there's some company "Writer's Relief" that purports to handle a lot of it, which I see advertised in everything from Poets & Writers to even The New Yorker, although nowhere in these companies' TOSes does it say that someone can "ghost blog" in your stead to help you become the next Grisham. It used to be a given: John Updike is not your "pal" who you can ask "boxers or briefs." J.D. Salinger isn't going to a Yankees game with you. And no, Virginia, Ms. Woolf is not including anyone in her visit to Orlando, nor bringing back any souvenirs that rhyme with orange. ;) Robert Frost may talk about "mending fences" but he sure isn't heading next door to visit with the Bumsteads. There was a distinction, that the writer/artist/whoever could extricate him/herself from 99% of "the real world" and only grant interviews to The Paris Review and the like, which allowed him/her to be at that certain level because s/he wasn't being dragged down by the mundane. Atwood and Rushdie on Twitter is like Sylvia Plath talking about baking cookies in Good Housekeeping, or Salinger himself, in a '70s issue of Tiger Beat, fiercely rebutting any rumors of David Cassidy playing Holden Caulfield on the big screen. :roll:

And I'm also wondering if there's anything I, or anyone for that matter, can do, to get to that Grisham level as though one could party like it's 1989, to hire someone else to do the stuff you don't/won't/can't do and Milli Vanilli yourself into the hall of fame, or even like it's 1999 and make off that the Internet had shut down all over the world and Y2K had happened. To completely ignore social networking and personal self-promotion (not promotion of oneself by someone else more expert in the matter). I am struggling, a lot, feeling compelled to do this whole promotional thing before even attempting to send things out for submission, and without anything, not even a draft, in hand or on disk, subsequently being exposed as the Luddite with no clothes, which to me is even worse than being a stripper all over the Internet.

I feel like I'd be -- if not am -- a phony and a fraud already and I feel stuck, a catch-22 in a field of broken dreams. Seriously, what can I do? What, if anything, can I really do? :(

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Re: The end of the "celebrity author"?

Post by MattLarkin » January 17th, 2012, 9:31 am

Ok, I admit I only skimmed that last post, as it was kind of a long rant.

But...You're awfully set in your opinions about college for someone that hasn't lived through it. You're asking for advice from the boards. Most of us have been through some amount college and possibly grad school, and most found it valuable. Assuming most of us were fairly intelligent before we went, and feel more rounded after, you might want to at least consider setting aside your preconceptions.

And getting a job in IT is pretty tough nowadays, too, FYI. No matter what you do, it's gonna be hard. And it is frustrating. The same is true for writing.


As far as what you can do--I don't think you have to become a social diva to be successful. It's a path some people have taken to success. That's not to say you can hideout Salinger-style, but you have options. The first thing, I think, is keep writing. Master the craft. Marketing won't do much good if you don't have work out there, and marketing work that's not top notch may hurt you in the long run.

In the meantime, figure out what other kind of job you can get, and can do without making yourself crazy. Because most likely you're going to have to work for a while. These stats are old, prior to the self-pub wave, but at one point something like 10,000 Americans reporting being pro-writers. Of those, something like 500 made enough money not to need a day job.
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Re: The end of the "celebrity author"?

Post by Hillsy » January 17th, 2012, 11:10 am

Rachel Ventura wrote:I feel like I'd be -- if not am -- a phony and a fraud already and I feel stuck, a catch-22 in a field of broken dreams. Seriously, what can I do? What, if anything, can I really do?
Well, you've mirrored many of my thoughts surrounding social media, marketting, and so on. But you know what? There is something you can do that's entirely, 100% within your power.....

Don't Play

If you don't like the rules, well sorry, they ain't going to change for you (unless you're a ground breaking exception), and they especially won't if the other 99.9999% of the world is stoked about them. Solution? Either find a different game to play, or continue playing by your own rules in the knowledge you're going very much against the grain. You don't get a physics degree by refusing to learn maths. Oh, you can enjoy the physics lectures, textbooks and seminars, but when the exam papers come round and all the questions require fomulas, inegrals and differentiations.....well I'm sure you can see where I'm going.

The title makes allusion to a"celebrity author"....but in an era when more and more authors are becoming millionaires (Hocking), or mouthpieces for sea-changes in the publishing industry (Konrath), when their presence and columns garner massive fandom (Gaiman) then that's patently not true. What is true is that, under the current rules, you (or me for that matter as I'm similarly in extreme debt with the self-esteem bank) probably won't be.

And you know what? That's cool.

You wanna write for a living? There's dozens of ways to earn a paycheck from it. You can start out writing freelance for paying magazines, or writing corporate draft (which apparently pays darn well). Hell, write fast and well enough and you could probably do it on short story subscriptions alone. None of these things need the huge marketting presence necessary to counterbalance the outlay to get the project moving in the first place.

But You wanna be famous? You got to play the game as it is or accept you're cutting your own odds by going your own way. You don't get to play both sides I'm afraid. It can be done. Look at Joe Abercrombie. His blog is....irregular at best. I don't believe he tweets or facebooks. He goes to conferences, sure, but then he likes conferences. After his first book sold he still worked his day-job, paid his bills, raised his family - none of that was done on the back of smearing himself across the internet.....Brandon Sanderson was told he'd never sell a book if he didn't cut down the size of his novels. He ignored them, sold Elantris, and the rest is history.

So you can follow their approach, knowing the extra risks, or....well....just stop playing the game. No one will criticise you for it - I haven't got any hate mail because I've realised I'll likely never get anything in print.....but even if I did at least I know I can write back in brilliant prose....hehe

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Re: The end of the "celebrity author"?

Post by Margo » January 17th, 2012, 1:35 pm

MattLarkin wrote:As far as what you can do--I don't think you have to become a social diva to be successful.
Absolutely true, and also the last thing many writers want to believe, because it's easier to spin one's wheels all day on social media "marketing" (or ranting) than it is to spend all day writing.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to lining 0's up behind that 1 on my checks for being a self-published hack. I have extra's to deal with now. :lol:
Hillsy wrote:Don't Play
Well said...I second your whole post.
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Re: The end of the "celebrity author"?

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 20th, 2012, 1:55 am

Hi guys...

Sorry for the long rant above or if anything seemed overly hostile or critical.

Margo, thanks for your (incredible) patience and insight. I was just thinking about this the other night, about how even big-time actors/actresses and musicians often love their craft and get lost in it but are really awful when it comes to interviews. They hate it. They go into the arts/entertainment to build a career out of being "someone else" other than themselves, and when the time comes to promote and to be showy and talk in their own voice, they often flounder. Harrison Ford is a classic example. Adam Sandler. They fidget and stammer and do all the "uhs," "ums" that the public obviously doesn't see in the movie -- because there have been several takes and they've memorized a script. Sandler did SNL which was, of course, live from New York, but most often... these people don't do well at improv. They hate marketing and promotion, but they love being involved in production.

Still, they do it, they do the interviews and talk about the movie because 1) they have to, 2) people like to see them "out of character," and 3) if Indiana Jones makes a tree fall on Billy Madison, but no one's there to see it, well... obviously there won't be a sound. ;) Over time, they grow to get used to it, because they realize that they're doing these interviews, these media things, for their fans, and their potential fans, and the regular folks looking for something beyond the insulated nature of the script. Something unique to take away -- an anecdote, a joke, or even just a water-cooler commentary on how Ford or Sandler was in the interview. I've come to realize that if you want something bad enough, you can't just throw something to flypaper and hope it will stick. Otherwise you'll be outside, in the water-cooler group looking in. Which isn't at all what I want; I want to be in the Sandler/Ford group, or whatever the equivalent is for authors. Truth is, it does scare the living daylights into me. ;) And self-realization can be and is often a b!tch. The lightbulb going on burns like crazy when you've spent your whole life in the dark. But eventually, your eyes do adjust. And Margo is right, you can't win if you don't play. The old adage about the guy who kept wishing to win the lottery but never bought a ticket applies. I think it's still possible to go for broke and come out better than you were before.

And I think one of the big things that scares me most about social media is not only the "media" part but the social end of things. I have no friends; I don't get along with my family, and right now, I really don't go out much. I was hurt so badly all my life -- I know it sounds blame-y and cliche -- but hurt and bullied and even abused so harshly that I find it really hard to put myself out there for a billion people who 1) won't care and/or 2) I fear will come and attack me. I don't feel I have the stamina or interests for college, and so that's a definite no-go. The economy sucks, and no way am I going to clean toilets just to put food from the same burger joint on my table. I think I could benefit well from 1) obviously, a good therapist, if I can find one (and parents can afford it); 2) a face-to-face writer's workshop, like Grub St. or Gotham or L.A. Writers' Lab, and 3) some sort of media consultant who can help me figure out anything with regards to the whole FB/Twitter/blog thing. What I won't benefit from, obviously, is complaining about the weather (the "forecast" for the business) when nobody can/few want to do anything about it.

And yeah, I wasn't even alive in 1988 when Grisham first hit the shelves. Sue Grafton in, what, '87 or something. Janet Evanovich, Stephen King, Dean Koontz -- I was alive for Stephenie Meyer but didn't have internet when Twilight hit stores. So I wasn't there to follow all the My Space and Playlist platform she developed from the ground up. I remember when Lady Gaga's first album came out and I figured she was going to be a one-hit wonder because she's too weird. And yeah, I really discredited social media as viable or worthy of my time because it gave rise to Justin Bieber. :roll: As annoying and shrill he is, and as annoying the "Orange" cartoons, the Rick Astley videos, and that other stupid video with the kid singing on the toilet are, as incoherent as a lot of blogs are, and yeah, as idiotic as Baldwin/Kutcher/Kelso are on Twitter, I have to keep reminding myself that it's not all bad -- and plus, this is where the people are. Much as that does scare me, it's where I know I belong. With the Ninety Nine Percent who love this junk and do care for what the permission to suck and to sp@m the airwaves means for freedom and individuality and being creative and new in this uncharted day and age. You're right, I could hide in a cave Salinger-style or be a paper bag writer like Pynchon and apply it directly to the forehead. ;) But the way I'm starting to realize now, if a tree falls in the forest, to print the pages for my book, wouldn't I want someone to be there to read it? If so, I need to make a sound.

And paranoid as I am, I need to go where everybody (will) know my name. :D



Cheers, mates. :lol:

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Re: The end of the "celebrity author"?

Post by MattLarkin » January 20th, 2012, 10:03 am

If it makes you more comfortable, you could use a pen name, too. And you can sure get by with just a classy website under that pen name. If you are going to hate social media, it's a waste of your time. People won't connect with you, if they don't feel your heart is in it.
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Re: The end of the "celebrity author"?

Post by Claudie » January 20th, 2012, 1:58 pm

Rachel, there is one thing you should remember. Harrisson Ford and Adam Sandler did not give interviews before they became popular. They were nobodies, and they worked their craft until they mastered it. They made lots of movies before they got invited to the big interviews. And that's what I think you need, to. Forget the social media. Forget the interview and fame and all that crap. Go sit and write. Write until you're not good, not great, but excellent.

If you want to make a sound, you've got to have a tree to push.

Once you've got one - a big, solid one - you can think about reaching out. Chances are the world of social media will have changed by then anyway.
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

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Re: The end of the "celebrity author"?

Post by Mira » February 13th, 2012, 7:00 pm

Rachel, I'm so sorry I dropped the ball here, got really busy and distracted, and then I remembered I wanted to respond to you. I hope it's not too late to address something you said.

Seems like the topic of writing and celebrity has been thoroughly discussed - not sure I have much to add. But I did want to say something about College. Even though it's not the real point of your post, I just can't resist! :)

You wrote:
About the point of College: "No, it fattens the wallets of whoever's in charge. The faculty, the administration, the education industry in general..."

Eeek! No, I can see how you might think that. But actually the reason College is expensive isn't to fatten wallets. It's to keep people OUT. The more expensive an education is, the more the lower classes can't access it.

An uneducated population is much more easily manipulated and controlled, and there has always been a press from some of the members of the 'ruling class' to restrict education and make it unreachable. (Note: I'm not saying you're easily manipulated at all, I doubt you are, but I'm speaking in more general terms).

Millions of people have died for the right to be educated. An education is a very precious thing. And you do get a better education at a more expensive school, for the reasons noted above - but any education is valuable.

That doesn't mean you will choose to go there, but please don't misunderstand, educators are not selling a worthless product in order to make money - they are pricing an extremely valuable product high to make it more difficult to access. That's why there's a current political battle going on about student loans and tuition fees. It's all about access.

That's what I think, anyway. Hope you find it interesting food for thought....

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