Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Three Cheers for Anonymous

by Rachael Phillips
If there’s one thing I love, it’s to see my name on the cover of a book.

You, too?

Neither of us would object, either, if our names outsized the titles of the books, sure signals that our literary babies, regardless of title (The Love Song of the Garbage Man? Vampire Recipes?) have hit The New York Times Best-seller List.

Yet some of the most famous literary works in history were written by people whose names have never appeared in Publishers Weekly, ancient epic poems such as Gilgamesh and Beowulf, and stories like Arabian Nights. Think of the long-term marketing opportunities those authors missed. Not to mention, the royalties.

The Bible itself embraces numerous works written by “Anonymous,” including some of my favorite Psalms and the book of Hebrews. Not surprising, I suppose, as the Bible teems with unnamed God-followers who thumbed their noses at earthly “immortality” and instead, imprinted His name on history.

All of us, for love of Jesus, have written or edited anonymously at one time or another. We've banished lousy spelling and offending apostrophes from congregational song lyrics, bulletins, and signs; rewritten church holiday programs and VBS skits that feature Dick and Jane; and slogged through eager friends' and relatives’ manuscripts that make us want to disappear into the Writer Protection Program.

Though no spotlights shine on us for such service, and our names may be forgotten on earth, they will show up one day, shiny and indelible, in the book that really counts.

The Book of Life. 






  1. Rachael, I enjoyed this article, but I must disagree with you on one point. The author's name appearing larger than the title of the book drives me crazy. It always has, actually. My personal preference is for the title of the book to be above the author's name and larger than the author's name.


    1. Andrea, I think when that happens, though, it's because the author's name is what's selling the book, such as Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Janette Okes, etc. And there are authors that I'd read even if they published their grocery lists (e.g. Randy Singer, Allistair MacLean, Agatha Christy, Amy Wallace). But you're coming from the view of one who wants a good story first rather than just a favorite author.

      My personal feeling? I'm actually an author fan, so for most writers I don't mind their name getting the spotlight. They deserve it. However, there's a guy named Jeff Reynolds who I think should have his name in fine print under the title.

    2. Actually, there are several authors that I read their books without even checking the back copy first (Kim Vogel Sawyer, Tracie Peterson, Beth K. Vogt, Lynette Eason). It isn't that I'm not a fan of authors. It's that having their names beneath the titles makes them seem more human, more humble, like they're not letting the blessings God pours out go to their heads. Does that make sense?

      Love hearing your viewpoint on it. It's neat to me how folks can take such different outlooks on the same thing.

    3. May the Lord bless you both, Jeff and Andrea, with seeing your names under book titles!

    4. Thanks, Rachael! That would be exciting.

  2. Actually, I agree with you, Andrea! The story should be the focus, not the name. But oooh, the implication--seeing our books on New York Times Best Seller list--does appeal to a starving writer, right?

  3. Good blog, Rachael.

    Allow me to share one theological beef I have. It's those who say that Peter acted in haste when they chose Matthias to take Judas' place while "God chose Paul". No, I think Paul had a different role. One of the reasons people say this is because Paul has more written about him than Matthias. Oh, but if you just look at the twelve (counting Matthias but not Paul), you'll see that in Acts Matthias ties for third place in mentions with James, son of Zebedee, and if he (James) didn't get killed, he may not have gotten that many. The mentions of Phillip were the deacon, not the apostle. Only Peter and John got more attention, and every mention of John also includes Peter. So it ticks me off when they look down on Matthias. (Same goes for those saying Paul was right in his disagreement with Barnabas over John Mark because history followed Paul.)

    Okay, I'll get off my soap box.


    1. Fortunately, they all stand before their Father, who is able to make them stand, whether famous or not :-)

  4. Rachel you are not only funny, but filled with hidden talents, such as diplomat. Writers Protection Program - haha. BTW I listened to a man perform 2 hours of Beowulf from memory, accompanying himself on the harp/lyre/stringed instrument. I didn't really care who wrote it. I must admit I do follow some authors because they have a standing history of producing a good story which I'm interested in. I was upset when a favorite author wrote two rather tacky books. It was like have a rotting fish thrown in my face. I'm leery of reading anything new by this author unless. Great post my friend. Will you be at conference this year? If so, maybe we'll get a chance to chat.

  5. Hi, Mary,
    Yes, I know that disillusionment when the story doesn't match the name. The positive side: perhaps we and other disillusioned readers will explore new territory (and maybe they'll like our writing!).

    Yes, I plan to be at conference, and would LOVE a nice long chat with you! Hugs.