Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fear of the Spotlight

Two things recenty got me thinking of author safety. First, the recent shooting in Arizona, and second, an author friend who recieved some scary emails from a reader.

Many of us are trying to get published (and a bunch of my blog followers are), but becoming an author buys a step into a spotlight. We could be watched and regarded by thousands of strangers, some with unbalanced mental states.

Are you ever afraid to become an author? Do you ever wonder if you will fear your readers/fans?

I know I'm just being paranoid, but in this day and age (sadly) it's not a bad thing to look over your shoulder.

Thoughts?



Also, please take a moment to welcome our newest Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog sister, Sarah Fine who'll be blogging about her 2011 Writing Goals. Go Sarah! And stay tuned for next week's post by Deb Salisbury.

If you missed it, I blogged about it last week, and Laura Diamond the week before!

76 comments:

Liza said...

It used to be that to some degree authors could hybernate, but now they are forced to market themselves via Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc. It's pretty hard to remain mysterious. And yes, it worries me.

Christine Danek said...

I have thought about this. I'm not sure I will ever get to this point, people knowing who I am or an authentic author, but this thought has crossed my mind. There are many scary folks out there. With technology it's hard not to hide. Yes, scary.

Jessica Bell said...

Scary emails from a writing fan? Really? Wow. Nope. I've never even thought about stuff like this. guess I'm going to now ...

Renae said...

It is scary to think about. We're told to become a part of social networks and get our names out there and yes I think that does cause some vulnerability.

jbchicoine said...

This is a relly interesting topic...While I tend to think the best of people, I have always found felt somewhat uncomfortable with on-line interactions (though not so much as I used to). I am a private person and yet I know that building an online presence is important for getting established as a writer--hopefully a published one. I'm often in a quandry over just how far to put myself out there in this oftentimes creepy world...

Candyland said...

There are times it freaks me out because even though I spill online, I'm private in life. Ironic, I know.

salarsenッ said...

This is a subject that really must be pondered. Yeah, it can be scary for many reasons. My husband and I have actually talked about it. I think being cautious and paying attention is key.

Magan said...

There is something I like about being an author that Nathan Bransford brought up. You don't instantlly get recognized on the street. I could actually go to a movie and not have to worry about people wanting my photo. But in this day and age you can never be too careful. I may be known as the Fangirl, but I know there are probably other crazier fangirls and fanboys that are probably way scarier than me.

Angela Felsted said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela Felsted said...

I always say I'm not jealous of fame, just fortune.

It is dangerous to be famous, particularly very famous. I don't think I'd worry about getting a book published unless it went on to be a household read like Twilight. If I were Stephenie Meyer, I would be very afraid.

mist of the blossom rain said...

I understand where you come from in terms of safety. I myself want to be published, but it is very dangerous to have your name out there. Especially if you write about politics, or or speak out against the norm. A pen name is a good way to cover up your identity, and still write about what you want. JK Rowling did it to help sell her books, because they feared that boys wouldn't buy Harry Potter if they knew she was a woman. Creating an identity might help you feel more secure about having your wonderful writing out there.

Giles Hash said...

It can be terrifying sometimes when you're out in the open and people notice you. Sometimes it scares me to think that some obsessed fan might try to hurt me or my family, but then I remember, "I'm not famous, so I'm not going to worry about that now."

I don't want crazy fans, but if I get one or two, I'll deal with it. Until then, I'll just enjoy writing and attempting to get published.

Carol Kilgore said...

Paranoia lives with me. I don't think about it every waking moment, but it lurks in the back of my mind. And since I write mystery/suspense, I can think of a lot of scary scenarios. I don't want to be the protagonist of any of them.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I've thought about this. I mean, some of the subject matter in a couple of my books is probably going to tick off some nutjob somewhere. Why else do you think I use my initials instead of my name? (Not that some enterprising young psycho couldn't find me anyway, but it gives me the illusion of anonymity.)

BECKY said...

Hi Lydia....yes, interesting subject. I'm not afraid of fame. I think it's partly because of what I write...personal essays, some humorous, some nostalgic...I'm probably being naive saying that, but I feel it's different than a lot of fiction types...By the way, I still haven't used the marvelous gift certificate I won from you, but I definitely will! It's just a matter of time! Thanks again for that!!

Alleged Author said...

Hi Sarah!

That is way freaky that an author friend got scary emails. I often wondered what people like Stephanie Meyers and J.K. Rowling do because their books are so famous.

Laura Pauling said...

I try to think about it. I mean, bad things happen and there are many ways to pick up a stalker. Hopefully that doesn't happen to too many authors!

Jennee said...

I've always figured that hate mail was a good thing because people are reading what you have to say..and it's making some sort of impression. I think with the right PR you could be in the spotlight and mysterious at the same time. Celebrities do it all the time,

Linda Kage said...

Actually, I wrote a romantic suspense and read a little to my husband. He arched his brow and said, "You realize every wacko that reads this is going to want to talk to you if you publish it."

Made me pause and say, "hmm, what a scary thought. maybe I don't want to write suspense"

Jess said...

I can honestly say I've never been worried about safety issues (although I've known about crazed fans ever since I saw the movie MISERY), but the privacy thing definitely has crossed my mind.

Bossy Betty said...

I don't really think about safety. I try to keep a positive outlook in all things. Sometimes it's hard though, isn't it?

Hope you have a great day!

Matthew Rush said...

I'm a big strong man, so I'm not scared of anything or anyone.

Just kidding. You actually never know with people, and some of them are very dangerous. I could not imagine being Stephen King or someone that famous and having to worry about crazed fans and stalkers. Thankfully the likelihood of becoming that famous is slim.

Erinn said...

I'm always worried that my books don't have a positive message and that people will take it the wrong way. Also I'm worried that my career will interfere with my writing. I'm constantly terrified that an outraged parent will try to get me fired.

Saumya said...

That is scary! When I heard about the shooting it broke my heart because the people were, at the end of the day, killed for doing their job :(. I can't believe your friend got a scary e-mail from a reader! I guess this is one of the downsides of putting yourself out there.

Saumya said...

P.S. I'm sure you deal with that in other degrees in medicine as well!

Connie said...

I do think about it. While I was in college my roommates and I had a stalker (this was before the anti-stalking laws), and we learned that you have to be wise, but you can't live your life in fear.

LeishaMaw said...

I do worry. It only takes one less than stable person to mess up your life. There has to be a ballance between concern and faith in humanity. Still trying to find it though.

Melissa said...

Oh great....

I'm paranoid as hell already.... this is so not going to help.

I gues it's a trade off though. I can deal with the crazy fans (if I get any) as long as I have that one or two who makes me feel like it was all worth... and I totally have that already in my mom and best friend.

Munk Davis said...

I give it no mind share, I also rail against the phrase, "in this day and age" unless I am discussing technology.
In terms of acceptance and social awareness, the world is a better (and safer) place now than it used to be (when counted by centuries or decades, not by years or minutes. And assuming sensitive people like yourself (or Gabby Giffords)continue to speak out, the world will continue its positive trajectory.

Old Kitty said...

Oh I just hope you fab authors about to be published that I'm getting to know in blogworld will be ok and not garner any stalkers and such nasty people!!! :-(

Take care
x

Ghenet said...

Yikes! I haven't thought about this too much in terms of being a writer, but it's definitely scary. You have to be cautious! I've been thinking of using a pen name (or a modified version of my name) if I get published, because my name is hard to pronounce. The other benefit of that would be added privacy.

Krispy said...

I think it's a legitimate concern to have, but I'd like to hope the good outweighs the bad and unless you're J.K. Rowling, at least authorhood in general isn't like instant celebrity.

Melissa Gill said...

Unfortunately danger lurks everywhere. It could be an obsessed fan, or a random accident. I just have to give those things to God. He has a plan and He expects me to work with him on it, but if it's my time, it's my time.

Heather said...

In my line of work I'm used to always looking over my shoulder anyway so I'm prepared for this. Still, writing is a pretty solitary thing and stepping into that spotlight is the opposite. It's a bad world out there and we have to be prepared.

Jacqueline Howett said...

Its a funny world today, and its wise to be a little alert. Take a moment to do 'a little' research, then weigh the odds. And not too fast to race into trouble. But really, the positive side of thinking, please! By the way, is this Blog really you? or is this blog enough proof? Whatever, I like your Blog, thats why I am here.

Krista said...

Interesting thoughts. I'd never considered this before (thanks for giving me another reason to be awake at night! Jokes...). I guess it doesn't worry me too much because having a book published is so far away. Maybe I'll start waking up in deep sweats if/when it starts becoming more real.

Sarah said...

I feel like living is an extremely dangerous act. Sure increased notoriety can bring the attention of the crazies, but plenty of non-authors have been stalked, too.

Do what you love and deal with the consequences. :)

The Golden Eagle said...

I've thought about this, but I still think the positives of being a known author would outweigh the negatives.

Meredith said...

Huh. I never thought about this, but I'm always careful to not reveal too much online. A stalker would be so scary!

Christopher said...

I'm not nearly interesting enough to stalk. Plus, I generally get along ok with crazy people.

Nas Dean said...

Great post and timely reminder. Thanks.

Elle Strauss said...

privacy is definitely a reason some authors chose alternate names, often their maiden name or such--just to keep their private lives a little more private.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

If I ever should get published (which I'm becoming increasingly to doubt), I will be just one of many struggling authors on the bottom-rung of the selling list.

Very few of us will ever hit the Stephen King or even the Patricia Briggs level of success. If we do, I think the wise move is just to enjoy the ride.

Tomorrow is promised to no one. Breathe each breath deeply, savoring the beauty each moment brings in some small way.

As always, Lydia, you have written an insightful, thought-provoking post. May your end of week be great.

By the way, any suggestions for surviving a bothersome cold? LOL.

Plamena Schmidt said...

If I wasn't scared before, I definitely am now : P

Actually, I have thought about this and I'm not really scared. If I was an actress, then I definitely would be really concerned.

M Pax said...

Yes, it worries me some. I've known authors who have had to deal with stalkers.

A serious reason to perhaps consider a pen name.

Cheree said...

Interesting thoughts. I've never actually thought about that, I'm still focusing on getting my novel out. But, the one thing I would fear is getting angry letters from readers, or even obsessive readers.

Carol Riggs said...

Yes...there are definitely some disturbed people out there. It's something all writers should contemplate. Not excessively so, but to have thought about it ahead of time. Especially if you want to take on a pseudonym like M. Pax suggests (good idea).

Bethany Mattingly said...

One of the things I'm most worried about is similar to this...it's what do I do when someone who hasn't read my book starts to attack it and takes my words out of context? I still haven't worked that one out yet. I'm trying to just not worry about it until I have to, though, that's not always easy.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is why I maintain a level of privacy. And I feel bad, because blogging friends want to know more about me, my family, where I live, what I look like, etc. For my family's safety (and sanity) I need to keep a low profile though.

Holly Ruggiero said...

Yeah. You never know what will set someone off and it can be something really obscure so safety is imperative.

E. Arroyo said...

Awesome!! Congrats and love the title of this post. LOL.

E. Arroyo said...

I'm typing to fast. That last comment was for your previous post.
I don't think there's any real privacy anymore. not with everything out in cyberspace. I'm not totally scared. After working with families in their own homes, I already been through scary moments. Scary, stalker dudes or dudettes are not the norm. At least I hope not.

lbdiamond said...

Well, shrinks lead (generally) pretty private lives. The less our patients know about us, the less our lives interfere in therapy. On the other hand, writers have to get the word out.

It's a fine line.

Raquel Byrnes said...

You know, it never occurred to me that as an author I'd ever have to deal with a reader...I mean...my information is out there so why didn't it cross my mind?
Thought provoking topic...
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Myne Whitman said...

I have not had this experience as an author and I'm grateful. In my online interactions prior on a message board, I did get someone who became fixated but it never went beyond that forum. It's really a risk.

Chris Phillips said...

I get where you are coming from and I'm sure I will be paranoid as an author, but a large part of me would rather be at risk than afraid.

L'Aussie said...

The world can be a scary place but we cannot live in fear. A thoughtful post Lydia.

I came over to invite you as an aspiring author to my Publication Party. It's in the second week now and this week's guest author is Clarissa Draper who is telling us her journey to publication. It is amazing. I hope you can find time in your 25-hour day to come over and take a peek!

Denise :)

Jai Joshi said...

It's always a good thing to be safe as an author. Authors aren't as in the public eye as actors or musicians or politicians but we are in the public eye and we do have people who know us and pay attention to what we're doing.

It's best to keep private things private. To never have information like home address, home phone or information about family members in the public domain. And be safe when we're traveling to market and publicise our work.

Other than that, all we can do is write from the heart, promote our work, and hope for the best.

Jai

Katie Gates said...

A certain amount of fear (that is based on intuition as opposed to paranoia) is well-placed in any venue and with any title or avocation. I once worked with a very creepy man who scares me to this day. He also informed a character in my novel, and so his presence in my life -- however frightening at the moment -- had a place of good use... As for the Arizona tragedy, it clearly revealed that one doesn't have to be in the limelight to be in danger. No place or position is safe, unfortunately.

The Happy Whisk said...

I don't think about this, no. But I did enjoy your post.

Her highness, Samantha Vérant said...

Wait! Where did the herpes go??? Your post title is in my sidebar!

Gimme some sugar, Froggy Baby

Vicki Rocho said...

I try not to think about this. We do need to be careful, but I don't think we can let it stop us in our tracks.

Lisa Gail Green said...

There are so many dangers in this world, the likelihood of something like that... well, I don't think it should stop us from pursuing our dreams.

Olga said...

I don't think any popular person has ever managed to avoid being on the spot. Unfortunately, that's a price one has to pay for one's success.

Jonene Ficklin said...

Lydia, you always come up with great ideas for posts, and I love all the insightful comments. Yes, I have thought about it, and yes, I have worried. But most people are helpful. The famous authors community is small and tight. They support each other. If (and that's a big IF, but here's to hoping) that ever happens, I know there are great people out there sharing their wisdom. Thanks again!

K.M. Weiland said...

As an introvert who naturally prefers to stay *out* of the spotlight, coming forward to actively promote my writing has been a major point of growth for me. It often makes me uncomfortable, even a little mournful over my lost solitude sometimes, but I've yet to be afraid of the potential dangers of the spotlight. I've definitely run across some kooks, but most of them are easily turned away. And the kooks are far outnumbered by the wonderful writers and readers I've been able to meet.

Naomi Ruth said...

I used to be super paranoid. Now I'm not too worried about it. I do keep my hometown a secret and use 'Code names' in lieu of using my family's real names.

Something to think about though *nods*

Walt M said...

I have never worried about this as I'm pretty scary on my own. :-) However, my lovely significant other goes back and forth on whether or not I should use a different name.

Robert Guthrie said...

I'm not a big fan of worry. Life's too short and, ultimately, good.

Beth said...

I don't think it's paranoid to be cautious. But, having published three books (to very little fanfare), I can promise you that I'm just as anonymous as ever!

Phoenix said...

Being an actress, I'm also at risk (not just for blogging) but I've tried to side-step it by trying to really humanize myself with my blog. You know, show my good days, show my bad days, show the spinach in my teeth... and hopefully the stalker finds someone else to idolize. If I see stalker-like tendencies in people, I do tend to back away a bit and put up stronger boundaries, and that's worked (so far.) But I do not envy those who have actually been stalked. Ugh.

Janna Qualman said...

It's a good post and a valid point, Lydia! I think we need to be cautious (with personal info and such, for instance), but avoid paranoia. That would be unhealthy.

Emy Shin said...

I have definitely thought about this a great deal. While I doubt I'll ever be an author popular enough to enter the spotlight, putting so much personal info online can be scary. I'm trying to be more careful about what I put out there, personally.

Hema P. said...

A great question, Lydia! And one I have thought about, too. What also has keeps me up at nights occasionally is, how does one deal with the fact that you're only as good as your latest book (even if you have had a dozen hits in your kitty before)? :-)

Thanks for stopping by blog! And 600 followers? I am impressed!! Congratulations!

Ishta Mercurio said...

Actually, I got followed while I was walking to the grocery store once - not because of my writing, but because of my hair. I never publicize the town I live in now; my pic is online, so my address is not. You have to be careful, in my opinion.

KatyDid said...

This reminds me of that time that I crashed my car and Kathy Bates carried me to her house…

I kid, but I had an old blog a couple years back which had enough clues as to my real name and location that a stalky reader tracked me down at my job – even though I’d made it clear that such behavior would be unwelcome.

The security guard downstairs STILL has a picture of him at the security desk.

I’m not a big people person to begin with, and there are SO many lonesome people out there looking for someone/thing to fill the hole in their lives. How could that NOT be scary for a writer?

 
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