Acclaimed SF writer John Scalzi explains "10 Things to Remember About Authors".
"And no, being a fan of an author’s books or series doesn’t count as being actively involved in that author’s life. You are actively involved with his or her books; that’s not even close to the same thing. "
To be honest, the possibility (however microscopically slight) that one day, my books might become as popular as his, frightens me just a little bit.
Because "fans" can sometimes act like they "own" the writer and/or the writer's works and has the right to make demands, according to the Unspoken First Law of the Obsessed Fan:
"I love this, therefore it is mine."
I shouldn't have to tell you that this is the first step toward a dysfunctional relationship.
Try telling your spouse/significant other (in a suitably creepy voice), "I love you, you're mine, I OOWWN YOOUU..." and see how far that gets you.
I'd rather have Readers than Fans. A Reader has no need to make demands. A Reader enjoys a book, has no need for a never-ending book series. A Reader recognizes that a fictional character isn't his/her Secret Identity.
On the flip side, Readers feel no obligation to buy your next book just because they "have to." Which is fine with me. I can relax and write what I want, not the sequel that the Fans Have Demanded.