I’m not a vampire, but I still feel pretty darn sparkly, by Deb Katie

(Before I begin, may I remind you that today is 2007 Debutante Mia King’s release day for TABLE MANNERS, her third novel? Longtime Friend of the Debs Larramie is featuring it at her website, The Divining Wand. You can even win a signed copy! Or visit Mia’s website.)

Now, back to business. Our topic this week is: “You should go on Oprah!” because that is probably the single most common bit of advice given to freshly-published authors.

My go-to reference whenever I’m talking about success in publishing is the Rich and Famous Contract. If you’ve ever seen Muppets Take Manhattan, you’ll recognize the phrase. After the Muppets debut their hit Broadway musical, the big producer orders “the standard Rich and Famous Contract.”

And the odds of being called in front of Oprah for one’s literary achievements are roughly the same as being handed the Rich and Famous Contract.

The vast majority of people think the publishing business is friendlier and more lucrative than it actually is. You can tell by the way people will ask, “Can I get a signed copy?” when what they really mean is, “Will you give me a free signed copy?” I’ll blur the details to protect the innocent, but let’s just say a significant figure from my past who ought to be very interested in my book (and supporting it) asked a version of that question. (Luckily, not to me.)

People tend to assume that getting published means you’re instantly living the high life. It’s just not true, folks. I already posted about the dollar sign end of things (here), but now let’s get real about the fame bit.

Think of your five favorite authors. Now imagine calling a restaurant and giving one of those names to hold a reservation. I’m just going to assume your first try is, “I’d like a table for Katie Alender.” Well, I’ve tried to get tough reservations with my particular name, and let me tell you, it doesn’t do much. In fact, here in LA, the best strategy is to use the name of a casting director—since the hosts and servers are all actors.

So I’m not riding on parade floats or being ambushed for my autograph at the mall (well, okay, at Target). I can probably name on three fingers the authors who do actually find themselves in that situation, and one of them is Stephen King and one is Anne Rice and one is living in a castle full of house-elves somewhere in England.

But here’s the kind of cool part—thanks to the internet, an author might never know that her influence is confined to a small sphere of readers. Because, using tools like email, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc., people actually get in touch with you just to say they liked your book! And they email you and ask questions and they tell you which part they liked best and how they can’t wait for your next book to come out. And it’s all incredibly flattering and thrilling.

What is being famous, after all? People seem to crave it, though it’s such a strange thing to crave—for instance, I just read an article about how Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen from the “Twilight” movie series) can’t even walk the streets of New York without being dangerously mobbed. You often hear famous people express their wish that they could just be normal, anonymous, blended in. (Of course, then they go out for a night on the town in a glorified tank top and “OOPS! Forgot the panties!”, but that’s neither here nor there.)

My theory is that people think fame is about connecting. On some level, we all long to connect with other people.

Poor Robert Pattinson isn’t connecting with anybody (except that taxicab that hit him last month as he was running from a mob). But me? I may not have the Rich and Famous Contract, but I get to connect every day! I’ve met so many wonderful people—authors, bloggers, readers, fans—and it all started with my book. For that, I couldn’t be more grateful.

So Oprah, if you’re reading this, yes. If you call, I will come to your show and talk about teens and maybe even jump on the couch if you aren’t looking.

But if you don’t call, I have a feeling I’ll be just fine.

~ Katie Alender

PS – BIG NEWS at the Debutante Ball! We’ve announced the Class of 2010! Click here to read all about the new Debs!

PPS – Are you following the Debutante Ball on Twitter? Well, why not, silly? Click here for daily reminders of what we’re blogging as well as special edition news tweets!

PPPS – Oprah, if you’re still reading, just kidding about the couch. I’ll behave. I promise.

11 thoughts on “I’m not a vampire, but I still feel pretty darn sparkly, by Deb Katie

  1. Excellent post about the nature of fame, Katie. It’s funny, I feel more sympathy for celebrities than I used to, now that I’ve done a book tour. No, really, stay with me, here. As I blogged last week, the book tour (even a modestly scaled one like mine) is grueling and exhausting. So now when I see a celebrity doing an interview on Letterman or Oprah or local radio or whatever, promoting a film, say, I now think: “Wow. I bet she’s really tired and just wants to go home.” But it’s the price she pays to be able to make the films she wants to make, and yes, the money she wants to make. That doesn’t make it any less tiring to run from a mob or get hit by a taxicab. I’m sure being a film star/rock star is much less glamorous than it seems (as are most supposedly glamorous things.)

  2. I love–and am so appreciative of–the emails people send to me. It’s just really nice that they take the time to do that, and it really keeps me going. Now, if I could just get a damn table at Slanted Door….

  3. Kris, I feel you… it reminds me of how, when I first got a “real job,” I thought meetings were thrilling and glamorous. But after going to a few hundred meetings, the shine sorta wears off.

    Tiffany, they’re the best, aren’t they? Whenever I get one, the husb and I stop whatever we’re doing so I can read it to him.

  4. As they say, fame is fleeting, and while we may get to feel like “stars” for a few events or months with our release, it is rather nice just to get to shop at Target (my fave, Katie!) without worrying that I didn’t dust my BareMinerals on that day. And you’re so right about the building community part. I’ve met so many wonderful people through new media and making those connections to build true fans is what it’s all about.

  5. What price fame? From what I’ve seen just in the past month with the celebrity “passings,” the cost robs you of true identity. OTOH, write a terrific book and your work lives on forever. Really, one glance at library stacks proves it! Those fan emails and letters have to be the real reward because rather than chasing after you, they’re respecting you and saying, “I like you, I REALLY like you!”

  6. Hi 🙂
    Thanks for sharing.
    It’s a terrific blog post.
    Bad Girls Don’t Die is on my ToBeRead list!
    Best wishes to you and yours,
    twitter.com/RKCharron
    xoxo

  7. I’m still laughing over the “didn’t dust on my BareMinerals line” (and by the way, does that stuff really work? I’ve been a tinted sunscreen girl, but I’m willing to switch!)
    I think selective fame would be ideal. If we’re dressed up and feeling thin and rested, it would be fabulous to be recognized. But when our kids are pitching a fit at the grocery store, we’re wearing a grungy t-shirt, and that Shred in 30 Days DVD has yet to be unwrapped? Not so much.

  8. I agree, Katie, that it’s probably realistic not to expect J.K. Rowling-like status right from the get-go, BUT that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible either. Nothing wrong with aiming high. I mean, odds are that another brilliant character and idea will sprout up from some where in this world; some new author will hit the big time. Why not to us? 😀

    PS: Good tip about the Casting Director reservation strategy. I’m going to try that.

    PPS: Anyone familiar with Anne Rice’s life story? Amazing! Check it out, and her new books, if you’re not.

    PPPS: Can anyone tell me what’s up with Robert Pattinson’s hair? I mean, does the guy hop out of bed and go straight to a photo shoot, or what? Get a brush, dude. 😀

  9. Hi Katie! Thank you for the lovely mention, and for the fabulous post! Yes, I think you’ll be fine with or without Oprah, but if you do get on, be sure to jump a few extra times on that couch for me (God, that is still so crazy when I think about that. What was he thinking?!). There are always people with more (“I just got another movie option!”) or less (I can’t find an agent!”), but at the end of the day, I’m doing what I love–WRITING STORIES–and sharing them with people who are wonderfully responsive and supportive. For that I will always be grateful!

    I wish you every continued success with Bad Girls and beyond!

    Hugs,
    Mia

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