Friday, October 07, 2016

Writing: The Fame We Get

When my first book was published, I sort of expected to be recognized--in the grocery store, in the dry cleaners, at church. But it didn't happen. I've written about this before. Writers often think that what they're getting the first time around is what the Muppet Movie calls the "standard rich and famous contract." Wrong on both counts, unless your name is Lee Child or J. K. Rowling.

I played in a golf tournament earlier this week, one that gave me the opportunity to see some folks I hadn't seen in a couple of years. It was nice, but one man brought me up short when he asked if I was still practicing medicine. No, I retired about 14 years ago, and for the the last ten or more have been writing novels--how nice of you to notice. (But I didn't say that...I just wished I could).

With a few exceptions, writers aren't famous. Want to prove it? Below are three writers off the New York Times bestseller list and three writers of Christian fiction. Can you tell which are which? The next list has three novels off that same NYT bestseller list and three inspirational novels. Again, can you tell which ones are which?


Harlan Coben, Colleen Coble, Colson Whitehead, Ann Patchett, Rick Acker, Jody Hedlund

Killing The Rising Sun, The Girl With The Lower Back, Hillbilly Elegy, Medical Judgment, Deadly Encounter, Nightshade

Those of us who write in the Christian genre, sometimes called "inspirational fiction," do it to reach others. Fame and (to a much less degree) fortune may or may not come. But then again, that isn't the reason we do this...is it?

Let me know how you did on the quiz.

Tweet with a single click: Does writing bring fame? Less than you think. Click here to tweet.

10 comments:

EM Griffith said...

Voracious reader that I am, many on your lists were known to me. But if you asked me to put a face to the author? That's another story (pun intended). Other than a tiny percent of all authors, most don't become rich and famous. Especially (sadly) in Christian fiction. Yet... NYT's bestselling authors pump out so many novels per year that the quality of their writing starts to slip over time. Or, like with Patterson, ghostwriters are used extensively to keep the work "fresh" and profitable. I find the less famous writers often put forth far better work. Just my humble opinion.

Richard Mabry said...

Elise, I agree with what you've said, especially about the NYT best-selling authors. As for fortune--forget it for most of us. Thanks for commenting.

Jackie Smith said...

I mostly read Christian fiction, but think I scored 100 because I've seen the others advertised so much!
Just so you know......we readers APPRECIATE you Christian writers!!!!

Richard Mabry said...

Jackie, you actually did better than I did on the quiz. Thanks for your kind words and your comment.

Susan Johnson said...

I got them all right, but I am familiar with a lot of Christian fiction authors. I know a lot of people aren't with Christian fiction, but that is pretty much all I read, and like Jackie said, we appreciate you Christian authors.

Richard Mabry said...

Susan, your check will double as a result of your perfect score identifying the authors. : ) Seriously, I guess Christian fiction isn't really dead (although the announcement yesterday that Harvest House was dropping their fiction line might lead one to think otherwise). Thanks for your nice words.

EM Griffith said...

There are many elements of Christian fiction I appreciate; titles in "inspirational" sub-sections online and in stores are what I often spend money on. In mainstream publishing there are explicit scenes, cursing, thinly veiled political correctness and just badly behaving characters in general. There was a trend recently to ignore basic high school English rules, which I found frustrating. Since most Christian fiction today has toned down "preaching to the choir" and many talented Christian authors have emerged, it's a far more enjoyable experience compared to NYT best sellers. Your medical mysteries are addictive.

Richard Mabry said...

Elise, thanks for saying what so many of us feel (but don't often express). And I appreciate your description of my novels as addictive--with no prescription needed.

shirley said...

I'm not going to say I knew them all. Advertising helped me get close to a hundred percent correct but not quite. Never heard of "The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo". (had to look that one up as don't we all have lower backs? Something did not print correctly when you posted)I recognized all the Christian Authors and titles right away otherwise.

Richard Mabry said...

Shirley, you're right--I left off the last word of that title (but I never noticed it, since I didn't recognize the book). But your comment and those of others tell me that Christian fiction has a very definite audience that keeps up with the authors writing in that genre. Thanks.