Anyone who has never seen the movie Misery, don't. Anyone who has, you just cringed.
Basically, in the movie Misery, a woman finds her favorite author wrecked in his car on the side of the road, unconscious and with a broken leg. She takes him in and tends to him, only to keep him hostage until he promises to rewrite part of the book to her specifications, going so far as to break his ankles when he tries to escape.
All because she's his biggest fan.
I think I'll keep the lights on tonight.
This kind of devotion is something we'll all have to deal with at least in some part when we become published authors of any success. Less the whole kidnapping and torturing kind of devotion, but more the Facebook syndrome-- because you have a friend in common, or something in common, or a similar name, or a cool profile picture, you're automatically best friends.
It's called public relations and catering to your fans. And frankly, it's important. Your fans love you and pour their time and energy into you and your work. It would be bad taste to disregard them (especially the ones with huge mallets and knives...to disregard them would be fatal). But people who spend their money and their joy on you deserve a little kindness and recognition. So a hand to all the fans.
But sometimes the familiarity goes a little too far. Nichole Bernier wrote an article entitled On Fandom: I Love Your Book, I Love You, We're Soul Sisters, I Hate You about this "chumminess" as she puts it, asking authors to tell the stories of their favorite fan-stories. Fans say the darndest things, revisited. One of her stories included a fan telling her that
"based on my complicated description of motherhood, maybe I shouldn't have had children."Well then.
Bernier goes on to wonder,
"Is there something proprietary that takes place in a reader's mind once he or she has spent hours and hours reading a writer's words? Or an unwritten contract between the writer and reader that opening one's veins onto the page makes you blood brothers? . . . There seems to be a growing chumminess, or at least expectation of chumminess, that exists between readers and writers."Basically, the Facebook syndrome. The internet has opened up 'friendship' beyond interactions in person. You can meet people online, you can even date online, you can be friends with someone you've never met and never talked to. All because you have something in common, whether that be a fandom, a friend, or a favorite book. You can 'stalk' your favorite author and keep updates on all their movements and publishings and dates.
I still maintain that keeping a relationship with your fanbase is important. As a 'public' icon, whether you be a big or little fish in the author world, your fans are your bread and butter and their devotion is a gift that should be acknowledged and appreciated.
Read some of the stories that the authors have labeled the "Weirdest Things Fans Have Said to Authors" in Bernier's article. Some of them are really out there.