09/12/2013 02:07 pm ET Updated Nov 11, 2013

Achieving Fame Isn't for the Faint of Heart

I've been thinking a lot about how people become known. And what they do with that when they do eventually become known.

Some writers, such as the late J.D. Salinger, the subject of a new book and documentary eschewed fame. The burden of fame weighs heavily on these authors, for whom the luxury of being published, adulated, successful, wealthy and sought-after is more terrible than their lives before they became recognized for their work, and before that recognition took on a life of its own.

Other writers wear fame relatively easily. Stephen King, for example, is a gracious and generous author who guards his privacy without becoming hermetic and who continues to be productive, neither resting on his laurels (or the continuing sales of his back list) nor cramped by the thought of having to top himself.

Some literary writers are guarded about embracing technology or social media. Some genre writers (and I do wish we wouldn't have to refer to authors of thrillers, procedurals, science fiction and such as genre writers, since even literary fiction is a genre, perhaps one that pretends it isn't a genre, but that's another post), some genre writers, as I said before wandering off on a tangent, embrace their craft, their public, and find ways to engage with fans. They don't feel either the burden of fame or the privilege of scorn for those who wish to engage with them.

Same with many self-published authors. And this area is one that will become increasingly important over the next decade. I believe that self-publishing has only just begun to topple the old paradigms of traditional publishing. But the smarter, and more determined, self-published authors know they have to achieve a kind of fame, to become known, in order to break through. That's what I do, with authors who are working with traditional publishing models, and increasingly with some who are trying other ways to get their work into the hands of the reading public. I try to make authors known, if not famous.

I'm not famous, myself. I'm well-known in my field as a book marketer, but I'm not someone who suffers from lack of privacy. That doesn't mean I don't want to become better known. Fame opens doors, and creates opportunities, and I don't belittle it. And I help others to find it, so that their books thrive and their businesses grow.

Most people have to work for fame. It's often those who've had fame thrust upon them, to paraphrase Shakespeare's line from Twelfth Night who find it burdensome. But it's those who work for it who come to know how powerful, and even worthwhile, a tool it can be.