Authors Are People Too

Admit it: authors are the celebrities of the nerd world.

Well, to be fair, there are as many kinds of nerd as there are worlds to hold them—but in the world of the fiction-loving, book-reading nerd? Admit it: authors are celebrities, if not gods.

One of the Internet’s best and worst gifts to the author-worshipping world is accessibility. Twenty years ago, the ideal way to contact your favourite writer was to send them a letter or, if you were lucky, to find your way to an event at which they were appearing. Now? The choices!

Feel like writing a letter? Still a great idea. But if letters aren’t your thing, why not track down an email address, a blog, a forum they frequent? Want to see them in person? Chances are their website features a page devoted to upcoming appearances and signings. Can’t make it to a signing? You might be able to order an autographed bookplate or novel through that same handy website you were browsing earlier. Hard as it is to take in (I still have trouble with it), Authors Are People Too—and, thanks to the Internet, they’re accessible as never before.

Why “worst” as well as “best”, then? Well, there are also downsides to this accessibility. Infamous disputes have occurred between authors and fans, disputes often aired with awkward publicity thanks to online channels. As well, authors who become too familiar with the demands of their readers have been known to compromise their ideas in efforts to please everyone, which is a sure recipe for disaster. In some cases, it’s simply better for authors to remain absent from their own fandoms.

Glimpses, by Lynn Flewelling

However, that’s not the case here. Ease of communication between authors and fans might have its disadvantages, but it can also lead to opportunities, as evidenced by Glimpses, Lynn Flewelling‘s upcoming anthology of Nightrunner-verse stories. I’ll be reviewing Glimpses here the minute I’ve read it, see if I don’t. In the meantime, I and countless other fans are omg-squeeing with anticipation—not only because zomg-it’s-a-new-Lynn-Flewelling-book, but also because this is a project many of us have been following from its beginning.

Glimpses began with one short story, a side project the author decided to write after being inspired by a piece of fanart. Originally, it was intended as an inconsequential treat for the fandom, to be shared online as soon as it was done. Gradually, it burgeoned into a small press-published collection of short stories, complete with guest-authored foreword, lengthy extract of the next Nightrunner novel, and—drumroll, please—over forty pieces of specially contributed fanart. While Flewelling was still drafting her stories, fans worldwide were drafting artworks for her selection—artworks based on hints, descriptions, and the occasional extract.

This anthology is, of course, Flewelling’s work, and what I look forward to most are those promised glimpses its stories will give us. But there’s no denying the collaborative element of the book as a whole, the fact that its much-anticipated writing will be complemented by fans’ visual interpretations. This project, a fusion of writer’s work and readers’ work, is testament to what awesome can come of fans and gods…er, authors…having access to each other.

4 Responses

  1. Avatar photo Nim says:

    “In some cases, it’s simply better for authors to remain absent from their own fandoms.”
    It must be so tough – a series that you’ve toiled over for so long gets this massive public response, and all you want to do is join in with the excitement – but yeah, there has to be a distance, otherwise as you’ve said – they can become influenced by fan’s ideas, which leads to law-suits… 😛

    I think the way Flewelling has dealt with her Nightrunner fandom is amazing, though. From a marketting perspective, it’s a dream come true – as you’re investing in your loyal fanbase. Not that die-hard fans wouldn’t have bought it if it was simply the collection of short stories, but to include the fanart…it’s just a lovely gesture and well and truly secures fans continued loyalty, at the same time. Bravo Lynn Flewelling!

    Plug? Oh, speaking of plug, for those of us playing at home 😛
    Fifi Made Me Read Lynn Flewelling Facebook Group … /plug

  2. Firefall says:

    It’s a fine balance, isn’t it? Authors have to figure out how much to interact with their fandoms and how much to distance themselves, because too much of either approach can backfire so badly. As you say, the way Lynn Flewelling negotiates her fanbase works well. I really like how involved she is with her fans – not TOO much, but enough that they feel comfortable discussing her work with her and can take part in a project like this.

    Ahaha, you plugged the group in the article comments! XD I take it we’re not resting until the number reaches the hundreds? 😛

  3. Actually, if you’ve not already purchased the ebook, I can send you the PDF and official cover for review. 😀

    Drop me an email if you like. wedschilde (at) vitaenoir (dot) com

    Reece Notley
    Three Crow Press

  4. Firefall says:

    Eep! Thanks so much for the offer! 😀
    As it happens, I have already read it in eBook (and hope to review it in the next day or so). But thank you anyway! I really appreciate the offer.

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