John Lanchester writes:
The writer Neal Stephenson, in response to a question about his own fame or lack of it, came up with a usefully precise and clarifying answer:
It helps to put this in perspective by likening me to the mayor of Des Moines, Iowa. It’s true of both the mayor of Des Moines and of me that, out of the world’s population of some six billion people, there are a few hundred thousand who consider us important, and who recognise us by name. In the case of the mayor of Des Moines, that is simply the population of the Des Moines metropolitan area. In my case, it is the approximate number of people who are avid readers of my books. In addition, there might be as many as a million or two who would find my name vaguely familiar if they saw it; the same is probably true of the mayor of Des Moines.