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.