Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Query Question: I'd like to avoid fame, please



I have a question for you (I have only read so far back on your blog posts, so I apologize if you have addressed this farther back) regarding anonymity. My first novel that I am working on right now is a bit like Grisham, Crichton, and King having an orgy produced love child with Veronica Mars, including Big Themes about free will, power structures, Biblical metaphors, neuropsychogy, feminism and the nature of creative vs destructive genius all wrapped up in the palatable presentation of a suspense novel from a female perspective (with a tiny bit of sarcastic comic relief interspersed throughout to play with the tension - I have been writing/performing stand-up comedy for 2 years).


I would love to write across genres as I have always been a fan of horror, scifi, fantasy, and suspense. I also would like to avoid fame as long as possible so that I may continue to interact with real humans in order to continue widening my reality tunnel so I can understand as many diverse perspectives as possible.

Would a literary agent take on a writer who has the desire to avoid fame under one name, instead preferring to write under a variety of names, or is the publishing industry as such that they rely on the Cult of Personality to sell books?

I have found that people only pay attention to the message for so long before they begin deifying the messenger instead. I would rather people understand the complex scientific and philosophical concepts I am translatong into more common language through metaphor while enjoying the entertainment aspects instead of just blindly worshipping a favorite author. I am aware that it may sound like hubris to imagine myself as a literary rock star, but I have confidence in my wisdom and understanding of humanity and my ability to convey that in various metaphorical languages for wide audiences.

Given that I would like to remain relatively unknown for as long as possible, should I go the literary agent/publishing house or the self publishing route?

Thanks in advance and I hope that wasn't a duplicate question.

I think you're the perfect candidate for self-publishing. Make sure you hire an excellent book designer, a good copy editor and leave your author photo off the dust jacket.

35 comments:

Kitty said...

it may sound like hubris to imagine myself as a literary rock star

Beka Olson said...

Thanks for this one, I needed to laugh this morning.

Thomas Pluck said...

I have an idea for a joke I can tell at an open mic some night but I'm really worried about how a worldwide stand-up comedy tour will impact my lifestyle...

french sojourn said...

Thank Christ...the wait is over.

We will now incorporate the third coming into our lexicon.

"Vanity press" perhaps?

Anastasia Stratu said...

I personally would buy this kind of book with the greatest pleasure... but only after:

- the author starts doing developmental edits of everything he writes - of letters to a lit biz top influencer in the first place. A more professional approach to stylistics would not be bad either - e.g. parentheses are good in math, not in readable content, unless they are an absolute grammatical must.

- Topicality. The times of Musil and Larry Durrell are gone, although freaks like me cannot get enough of "The Man Without Qualities". However, they are not exactly "all the rage in the Capitol", and judging by the weird-S soup of bestseller genres and influences, the author rejects only instant gratification brought by personal glory and fortune? Not sales and a place in the halls of fame per se? Laudable. Unless this is a gimmick along "I wanna be famous by not wanting to be famous" lines.

- the author tries not telling about, but rather showing the crack (-up). If one is a comedian, one must have the readers hiccuping through their coffee by the end of the first sentence. Not lifting an eyebrow at the word "comedian" and, in their minds, garnishing this noble title with insulting sprigs of "my S";

- the author learns that saying "hubris" instead of "arrogance" or even "snootiness" is not class but a "hey-look-I-use-thesauruses" act of the sort that creates general opinions re: nerds vs the rest of the world. Opinions create societies... and societies where children with minor intellectual endowment feed urinal cakes to those who may some day operate on their prostates are hardly salubrious. There. If I had said "healthy", what would have changed?

- the author learns to split a long paragraph-worthy sentence into a shorter, more palatable corpus of utterances;

- with his back cover text, the author can prove that the reader can learn something new. Stuff s/he did not learn from other great thinkers, from Aristotle to Rand. Rand is Alpha, not Omega, of course, but it is a long thorny way from lit major blah-blah-show to actual Post-Objectivism. Unless, dear author, you are a Neo-Objectivist, in which case I hate you. #Joking

Oh dear. As I read and reread this blog post, my inner psychoanalyst tells me that the pleasure from this kind of potential book would be related to tooth- rather than mind-sharpening. This is so déclassé... but I spent 45 minutes writing this comment, and it contains Robert Musil's name, too. So I will still post it. As the popular adage goes, "Tweet about Led Zeppelin and help a Justin Bieber fan".

Dear Ms. Reid, I hope you will excuse this unplanned, absolutely impromptu romping on your blog. If this comment will not pass moderation, that's cool. I will replace it with lovely Tang dynasty classical poetry I've just translated. Your servant, ma'am.

Barbara Elsborg said...

I'm mortified. That was the exact question I had ready to send on my computer. Darn it. Your advice was perfect. I won't use my author photo - I think it looks like an ass's head. Hmm...

Ardenwolfe said...

Wait. This wasn't a joke? Wow.

Laura said...

I don't know how Janet even made it to the end of this to find the question to answer.

I have so many responses and yet I suspect the "reality tunnel" of the writer is not yet ready to receive any of them.

BlancheDuBois said...

"I also would like to avoid fame as long as possible so that I may continue to interact with real humans in order to continue widening my reality tunnel so I can understand as many diverse perspectives as possible. "

This. Yeah, man. I totally hear you. It's exactly why I've been delaying my inevitable fame. Who needs all those fake humans in their reality tunnel. Am I right? I was saying this very thing to a real human just the other day.

Sure am gonna miss the humans, once I'm famous and all.

Just a thought—you might want to wear a bag over your head, or a mask, during the stand-up routines. You know they can see you up there, right?

Kitty said...

On second thought, is JR having some fun with us?

Mister Furkles said...

Janet, You are so nice. Not at all like the lemon shark we once met off the Palm Beaches.

donnaeverhart.com said...

Hm. Are you absolutely certain you didn't bogart this from Slushpile Hell, or perhaps from Evil Editor?

Either way, the reply is a classic...nothing like a bit of Sharkly Snark on Saturday morning.

Craig said...

U think the water is just too hot for a feeding frenzy. Metaphorically at least, the high temperature where she is will be lower than our low temperature today.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Such a strong response in the comments here is interesting, especially as pertains to usage of words such as "hubris". One detraction I hear a lot of the wildly popular John Green is his characters "use words people don't use". I guess some people talk like that after all, n'est-ce pas? A goal as a writer is to use the correct word, which unfortunately is not always the word your readers want to run their eye across.

MNye said...

Lol. Needed this.

Bill Scott said...

P.S. I am worried that when I go on my worldwide book tour I'll become and international sex symbol, something I'd like to avoid for as long as possible. Do you think a heavy veil will suffice or should I do my readings behind a backlit screen?

Stephanie Bittner said...

Fortunately for this person, fame is not a problem most of us writers will ever have to worry about.

However, don't direct them to self-publishing, Janet! If they query, the rest of us querying will look that much better.

River Cameron said...

This guy is right on point. I accidentally read the phone book the other day because thought it was by my favorite author. Imagine my embarrassment when I realized it was my doodling Neil Gaiman's name on the cover that made the content so compelling!

Katy Pool said...

Wow.

french sojourn said...

River...
Which phone book was it? I want to get it before it goes off print.

I'm so envious you have a signed copy. Can I buy it off you?

oooooof!

Calorie Bombshell said...

I don't think the poster is going to have any problem at all remaining unknown under any name!

Becky Mushko said...

I Googled "reality tunnel" and got 31,200 results. Apparently the term is a lot more important than I imagined. I mean, if it's on Wikipedia and YouTube . . . .

Lance said...

If the writer is indeed still working, perhaps a better option would be to kill the novel and switch to epic poetry. 101 Cantos.

Elissa M said...

I got the idea that this letter was meant to be funny. But stand-up and written comedy aren't really the same. Stand-up is all about the performance, and without the performer this falls flat.

I didn't think Janet's answer was snarky or sarcastic. I think it was exactly right. The author doesn't want to build a brand, so traditional publishing really won't work for him (or her).

Sheila JG said...

I think the writer's reality tunnel has experienced a cave-in.

El El Piper said...

Love Her Sharkness's response, and all the comments are hlarious!

I can sympathize with the letter writer, however. I am trying to delay fame until I have vacuumed my living room.

Stephanie said...

And here I was thinking MY query was long...

Rena McClure Taylor said...

Who's spoofing whom? Hum...

Amy Schaefer said...

Oh, please - hubris contest, please, please please!

Britni Patterson said...

I kind of want to see the author photo. I want to know if he's wearing a t-shirt that reads "CHUM" and has sushi on his head. There's only so much you can do to get a Shark to Chomp you after all...

Laura said...

This just made my day! Thank you for this blog. Your response was priceless.

Adam Heine said...

HOW TO AVOID FAME
Step 1: Become a writer.

There is no step 2.

Amiya Liccian said...

"Real humans".....as opposed to zombie humans, I guess.

Angie Brooksby said...

Is this what they refer to as closet writer?

I'm dying to know the title of this future classic.

The Closet Hubris Experiment

Hippocampus said...

@BlancheDuBois OMG - I'm laughing so hard (and trying to muffle it) people (real ones) at work think I'm crying. ROFLMAO!