Apologies to The Stone Roses for stealing the title of one of their songs from their breakout album, which I acquired yesterday at a car boot sale. I hadn’t listened to it for a while, but I wanna be adored made me think about how we sell ourselves as writers. Lead singer Ian Brown wrote the song to admit that he’d sold out, by going for a more commercial sound—to be liked by more music fans.
In the 21st-century, we’re expected to share details of our lives as part of the process of marketing our writing. Having a blog and a website devoted to our books is practically compulsory, expected by one’s literary agent, publisher and readers. And, what about your social media posts, where you scintillate and captivate new readers?
No one likes a grouch, however good their writing. You have to play nice, at least occasionally when interviewed, if you’re going to improve sales of your books. Some people are naturally charming while retaining a depth of intelligence that shows they’re not being smarmy. I think of J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Ian Rankin, Walter Mosley and Jeanette Winterson when I say this. I’m sure that you can think of other examples of accessible authors who you enjoy hearing talking about the creative process.
I’ve spent most of 2019 building an author platform, attempting to come across as nice, for want of a better word, as well as someone worth reading. Having spent the last decade living in a flat at a petrol station, socialising and dating not at all, my life has been devoted to reading and writing. I have lots of imaginary friends! The concept of being adored is laughable, but whether I self-publish my Cornish Detective series or I get picked up by Hodder & Stoughton’s The Future Bookshelf publishing opportunity, I need to ingratiate myself with potential readers.
Some will hate my books, others will think them OK, while a few may adore them. And me?
It would be a strange situation to be in, where your fans believed in you more than you believed in yourself, demanding more and more from you.
Best not to take yourself too seriously. Neil Gaiman put it well in an interview:
“You have a very open relationship with your fans.”
“Yes. We have an open relationship. Obviously, they can see other authors if they want, and I can see other readers.”
Do you want to be adored?