I am sure Madonna and those girls from The Hills on MTV are well-intended by providing ideas for a book, but I just cannot believe that there are writers out there willing to offer their talent just for it to be placed under someone else's name. Maybe it is just me.
What say you?
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I do find it ironic that your last phrase, "What say you?" is a direct quote from Bill O'Reilly's many books and programs. (He's a "celebrity" on Fox News, anyway.) Not sure if you meant it that way, but it's one of his famous phrases, ... and so your phrase made me laugh.
That being said, my take is "all power to 'em." I've already spent years being disgusted at the money-hungry publishers. Yep, big surprise, ... publishers don't care if a book is good, ... only if it sells. Celebrity sells. It's a simple as that. If you don't want to hear what a celebrity has to say, then don't read the book or even check it out of the library. Boycott it if you want, but there's no use complaining. In fact, if a celebrity can get one of my lower level students to read a entire book above their grade level, then I say, "Hip-Hip-Hooray!"
I will say this, though, ... be wary about reading the autobiography (or even biography) of your very favorite celebrity. You will certainly be disappointed in some way! I fell into that fun trap in high school reading biographies of some of my favorite eighties stars. My usual response to some of their antics was to say a loud, "Ewww!" I can count the times I've been impressed on one hand: a few lives of the saints, a few political figures, ... rarely celebrities.
Another irony, Bossypants (the new book by Tina Fey) is on my light-reading-for-summer, list. It's not meant to further my education, mind you, but it's still on my list. But, um, I absolutely REFUSE to read anything by Snooki. Ha!
It's sad that talented writers cannot get published without pasting someone else's name on the cover...however, it may provide a foot in the door for some authors. If they are published under, say Madonna's name, the next book should be easier to publish with a widely-known and/or widely-received book to their credit...at least on their resume. And singer/songwriters do this all the time. Someone else will cover their songs until they are able to break into the music industry on their own.
I so agree with howesk about "Snookie."
What I think would be really great would be if those truly interested in getting worthwhile literature out there for kids, for example, would donate the proceeds to organizations that promote literacy, especially for at-risk kids/poor school districts, etc. Now that shows where your heart is...not in the wallet.
I doubt that most of the celebrities write their own books, and when they do they aren't always good. I do think that they are encouraging people to read, and this is another example of the growing importance influence of books in our culture. It is also symptomatic of the everything-exposed lifestyle. Nothing is ever personal anywhere, with Twitter and Facebook and Youtube. Still, anything that encourages people to read is good by me!
I think it is unfortunate that it is easier for the girls from The Hills to get a book deal than any unknown writer out there. I think lots of writers will ghostwrite because it is sure money, whereas getting your own work published is so difficult. We are probably missing out on some amazing works being published because the book industry is more interested in Madonna, but what can we say, people buy these books! If Americans are more interested in celebrity tell alls than actual literature than that is what they are going to give us. Lets teach our next generation to appreciate literature again, and read something with meaning rather than gossip if we want this to change.
Just as the others have mentioned, the book industry is a business. With the onslaught of ebooks and web publishing, printed material is in danger of becoming obselete (according to some critics). So, it makes sense that publishers will do what they can to bring in money, and if that means putting some celebrity's name on a book that someone else has written or even publishing a work actually written by a celebrity that may not be anything more than average quality writing, people will buy it solely for the celebrity with whom they are intrigued. However, some celebrities do contribute the money made on such projects completely to charity which helps the community, and authors who publish under the celebrities' names are not much different than authors such as Stephen King or Danielle Steele who also write under other pseudonyms as well.
My opinion is that publishers are trying to make money, and what better way to do that than publish a book by an already famous and popular celebrity. Publishing is a business. I'm sure editors dream of finding "the next great American author," but the bottom line is that they have to acquire authors whose books will bring in money. Don't knock it--some of the money that celebrity books bring in makes it possible for untested authors to be given a chance.
The fact that Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi is technically an author would make me fear for the future of literature if not for the amount of new authors publishing great work that, though not widely available in print, is available for free or cheap in the Kindle store, and many new authors also have blogs rich with content. I wish this type of author would be more widely recognized, but I suppose that having a ghostwriter to make your life sound interesting is one of the perks of celebrity.
The only book in the new group of celebrity publications that I have some interest in reading is Portia De Rossi's "Unbearable Lightness"... although I do feel like the title is ripped off of Milan Kundera.
I can't knock people for taking advantage of their position to make a few more bucks.
I don't think it is too bad that it provides opportunities for ghost writers to use their talents and get paid when it can be extremely difficult for any writer to get noticed/published. I don't think I'd have a problem writing someone's book for them, depending on the compensation and the person of course, even though I'd dearly love to have a book published on my own right.
Of course, as someone pointed out, it is a shame that there are better writers out there that get passed over in favor of celebrities with ghost-written books, but it is a business after all and certainly nothing has changed in that regard.
I think that some celebrity autobiographies can be interesting and enlightening, but I am not sure that the forays into fiction are as successful. The level of ghost writing is always difficult to measure and as others have said, it is a way for a writer to make a living who may otherwise not get a break into the field.
It's a business, and the publishers hire their names and celebrity to sell books, knowing that they can usually make up for the hefty advances they pay with a large number of readers who seem to equate celebrity with wisdom. That being said, I have read very few celebrity books. With notable exceptions, they seem to have very little to say.
I'm sure writers would much prefer to publish something meaningful under their own names, but work is work when bills have to be paid. Ghost writing is a lucrative pursuit for many writers. Even though they are denied a publishing credit, at least they can pay the electric bill.
Far more palatable is the assignment that gives the writer a byline as co-author or contributor. I just finished reading The Kennedy Detail by Gerald Blaine. He worked with a writer whose name I can't recall. She was given credit for her work, and he acknowledged very specifically her great amount of research and writing in bringing the book to publication. Classy.
I imagine that there are a whole lot more talented writers than the publishing companies are willing to buy books from. So that would mean that you have all these people who have the talent to write books but can't make a living that way. I would think it would be awfully tempting to at least get the money even if you have to put up with having someone else's name on your work. So I guess I'm feeling a bit compassionate towards the people who end up doing this.
After all... it can't be worse than writing the "Daisy Meadows" fairy books that my daughter used to read when she was in 1st grade...
I find it very frustrating that celebrities who know nothing about children or writing don't have to jump through the hurdles that the rest of the public does in order to have a book published.
I have a BA in Early Childhood Education and my Bachelor of Education. I have written children's books and the children who I gave them to or the classes I read them too, loved them. Their parents and my peers encouraged me to have them published. I submitted my stories without an agent to as many publishing houses as I could find, and I was not successful.
Singers and actors are successful in their fields, but it's odd that they assume they can crossover. I am sure they will continue to do well because people are drawn to the familiar and when you see a celebrity's name next to shelves of unknowns, it's only natural to go for the name you know.
However, I do think that Jamie Lee Curtis's books are excellent. She really knows what topics are relevant in the class and writes them in a way that is easy to be read aloud and that children will enjoy and learn from.
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