I was going to post a picture of celebrity authors here, but I figure I’d rather promote my own stuff.
Anyway, I’ve noticed how often a celebrity shows up with a book that rockets to the top of the bestseller lists and makes a fortune. This post was actually inspired in October when I sat down to watch ‘The Daily Show’. The guest was John Cena and I thought he had a movie or wrestling event coming up. Nope, he had a children’s book, which was both cool and got me curious. I typed in ‘celebrity authors’ to see how many famous book have moved into being authors and it would be easier to list who hasn’t done this. It’s almost like publishing a book has become a milestone for the already famous. Is it a good or bad thing? I’m not sure.
I went reading articles and found many that talked about full-time, successful authors who were getting second jobs because they weren’t making any money. This included a few bestselling authors. A celebrity will get a massive advance while a non-celebrity will get the standard if anything because companies are putting more money toward the people with built in audiences. YouTubers were targeted for publishing contracts because of their fame and I read about one who shot to the top of the list. Then, it came out that they used a ghostwriter. So, this has become almost entirely on working off famous names instead of talent. I mean, publishing companies are in it for the money, so I guess we can’t be surprised here.
Another article I read talked about how there was a literary convention and the celebrities were promoted. Some of the long-term authors got angry because they were being ignored and feared that the lack of convention exposure would hurt them. Can’t blame them for that because who would notice them if someone famous was there too. This isn’t the article, but it notes how children’s books are a big arena for this situation. It even mentions those giant advances that put all of the non-celebrity authors at risk. If that celebrity fails to be a success with their book then they can just go back to whatever made them famous. Yet, the company has taken a big loss and ends up needing to cut other authors to avoid bankruptcy. So, these companies are basically gambling with the future and livelihoods of their other authors in the hopes that this celebrity will bring their success from one industry into the new one.
Now, is this entirely a bad thing? No because many celebrities do these books for charity and they send all their royalties to others. It could also work out well if companies got the celebrities to help promote their other authors. This is a little give-and-take, which you don’t see very often though. It’s also not something that happens these days, so it’s not really on the table. I guess the charity and leading more people into reading are the only benefits at this time.
Everyone should be allowed to publish books if they have a story to tell. It wouldn’t be right to tell someone that they’re already famous, so they can’t do this. Yet, it also isn’t right for companies to put all of their energy into promoting people who are already household names while those struggling are left feeling abandoned. I really do think there should be some synergy here instead of there being two separated sides. I mean, if these celebrities love books so much then I assume they would be happy to help those who are trying to make a career out of writing. Right now, it feels like the new rule is that you can only be a successful author if you’ve become a successful something else. If you have award-winning, best-selling authors falling to this new ‘fad’ then it’s hard to see things as anything else.
Seems I said more than I expected since I really only wanted to pose the situation and get thoughts in the comments. So, let’s talk.