The Relationship Between Writers And Readers

Having been an admirer of Dr. Brooke Magnanti for years, I was excited to learn that she had produced a five-part series for Radio 4. Belle De Jour’s History of Anon deals with why writers have sought out anonymity throughout the years. Brooke is, of course, a former anonymous scribbler herself, giving a voice to the Diary of A London Call Girl blog that heralded the start of sex blogging.

Yesterday’s episode dealt with the varied and complex reasons for which authors have hidden their names in the past and present. It raised some interesting questions and I’m keen to throw this discussion open with my fellow writers and readers of this blog.

There is no doubt that writers need readers. The writer is pointless without a reader, because without a reader there is no point in producing text. Unless you are writing for yourself, of course. But do readers need writers, or just a good story? Both can be true. Although in reality without the writer the reader has no story, without the story the reader needs no writer. Without either, there is nothing to read.

It’s very rare to see a book bought solely on the basis of the name of the author alone. When that does happen, it is likely that the author comes with a big fanbase (perhaps on the basis of previous popular works). Think of JK Rowling, who released her first “grown-up” novel The Casual Vacancy in September last year. Nobody really knew what it was about, but nevertheless, pre-orders for the September 27th release started in late June, and it went on to become the fastest-selling novel in the UK in three years. Such is the power of a name.

But do readers really acknowledge the writers when they’re reading a story?

And how does the reader-writer relationship show in the genre of erotica? Are erotica writers more visible to their readers, despite most of them going under an assumed name?

I can’t speak for myself since I’ve not been an erotica writer for that long, but I would like to hear your opinions and thoughts. What is your relationship with your readers? Do you buy books on the strength of a name or does the blurb on the back matter more? Do you think about who wrote the story when you read?

Feel free to disagree with me, but do it in an orderly fashion. This is a topic open for discussion, not ranting.

I’m looking forward to the rest of Brooke’s series, and hoping that it will inspire more posts. Also, Brooke is kinda awesome. Just saying.

Catch up on History of Anon so far at the BBC iPlayer website.

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  1. I would love to find the time to catch up with that!

    I’m a bit of both. At the moment, I don’t know which erotica is good or bad really. (Apart from the awful 50 shades of grey!) I’ll buy it based on whether I like the blurb, whether I liked the Authors previous and also price. I don’t want to spend a lot on something that I won’t like. Yep, I’m bloody tight! I think recommendations go a long way too.

    As for the name, well, a rose is a rose.


  2. I thought I would de-cloak to answer this. On the books that I purchase (and the ones that I don’t), I would say about 95% of the time that the blurb usually has to catch my eye, followed by reading the first few pages, in order for me to read a particular book.

    Very few times do I purchase a book based solely on the author, and when I do, its because I happen to personally know the author and appreciate their previous offerings.

  3. My fiction buying is scattergun and based on such random factors as cover image & title – the blurb is usually the deal-maker. I have to say that, with the singular exception of Alan Moore, a particular author’s name is far more likely to put me off a book than attract me – i always prefer people I’ve never heard of.

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