More and more celebrities are bringing out works of fiction. From TV presenter Holly Willoughby and actress Ruth Jones, to gardener of the small screen, Alan Titchmarsh and journalist Fearne Britton – a whole lot of celebrities are writing books and having them published.
Our nation’s obsession for celebrity means that a well-known name sells. And in the cut-throat world of fiction-writing, publishers, unsurprisingly, love a guaranteed seller.
I can understand perfectly why many excellent writers find this terribly frustrating. Their work, which is every bit as good as anything created by a celebrity author, may never get noticed—or even published—whereas if they were famous, well, it would likely be a very different story.
Celebrities, especially those who write children’s books, when approached with this objection, will often cite that anything that gets children reading is a positive. Hmm, maybe. But if their work wasn’t published, then someone else’s would be. Awesome kids books would still be published and children would still read.
Celebrities’ books will often get pride of place on bookshops’ shelves. They will almost always be supported with a huge marketing budget, and the celebrities often have copious opportunity to promote their books through media appearances as broadcasters are receptive to having these stars appear on their shows.
The same cannot be said for most authors, or wannabe authors, who don’t possess the privilege of the celebrity status.
From this blog, I think it’s pretty clear I’m not a fan of a celebrity author who has been published purely on the basis of their popularity in an area other than writing. Of course, if a celebrity is a brilliant writer, and there are no doubt many who are, then they should have every chance of being published, just like everyone else—but wouldn’t it be nice if that’s what it was; a ‘chance’ rather than a certainty? What if everyone had to submit their manuscripts anonymously, so they were judged on merit rather than on the popularity of the writer?
Working in PR, I realise this is an idealistic viewpoint, which will never be realised. Because celebrity rules. Because money rules. This means talent often takes a poor second place, and it means celebrities have a huge advantage over the average writer.
For these reasons, I would rarely opt to read a book penned by a celebrity. I prefer the idea of making a celebrity of a previously unknown writer because their work is awesome!
Having said that, my son, who ‘quite likes’ reading, enjoys David Walliams’ books. And I have to say, so do I! We’ve just returned from the theatre—the third David Walliams’ show we’ve seen based on his kids’ books. Billionaire Boy, just like Gangsta Granny and The Midnight Gang, was a good story, great fun and contained lots of colourful characters.
So, some celebrities do create fantastic books, no doubt. I just wish this didn’t have to mean there’s less room for the unknown author who, due to the already rich and famous celebrity bringing out a book or few, might sadly always remain unknown.