Monday, 12 September 2011

‘When the sale comes first and the truth comes second just stop for a minute and smile.’

So, I’ve been away from bloggy world for longer than I’d hoped, (three days but it feels like a lifetime.) I’d like to say that this is because I’ve been hard at work, writing, but the truth is I’ve been struck with the dreaded blog-writer’s block. So, if anyone has any brilliant ideas on what my next few posts should be, if there are any films or books they’d love for me to review/rip to shreds, or if they are just desperate to hear the sound of my writer’s voice, let me know. I’m needing an inspiration fairy right about now. Inspiration fairies are like muses, but better.

On a side note, I did, in fact, finish the first draft of my WIP this morning, so I guess it’s now time for the real work to begin! Fun, fun, fun. My WIP is currently called Raven’s Keep, and I’d love any feedback you have on that title. Hate it? Love it? Indifferent? Please, please, please let me know!

This post does actually have a topic by the way, and is not just me rambling from one point to the next. Today I thought I’d discuss my biggest book-related pet peeve: Celebrity writers.

God. Uch. The two words don’t even go together. I mean, that’s an oxymoron if ever there was one. Aren’t writers by their very definition meant to be people who stay out of the limelight? (You can disagree with me on that comment- I know I’m generalising to make my point.) Celebrity autobiographies are bad but fiction is even worse. At least with the autobiographies, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the celebrity ‘author’ knows what their book is about.

Don’t get me wrong- I have nothing against ghostwriters. Every writer would do pretty much anything if it involves being paid to do what they love, and I can’t blame them for that.

The thing that gets to me is that I live and breathe writing. I think about it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I couldn’t not write, even if I knew my work would never ever be read, because writing is just part of what makes me me. 

But for celebrities, it is just a vehicle that earns them money. Most of them don’t care about writing or reading or books in themselves. They just want their hard-hitting, ‘tell-all’ book to be the Christmas number one bestseller. And people wonder why libraries are closing?!

For me, books are art. They might not be for many of you, and that’s fine. You might just view the written word as fun entertainment, whether through blogging, or poems, or reading. But think about it- you wouldn’t catch a celebrity trying to sell a painting, would you? (Although it will happen soon, when people in the industry realise there’s a profit to be made from it) For me, celebrity art *shudders* and celebrity books are the same thing- completely absurd. Writing is an art, and if you don’t have the talent, or at least the love for it, you shouldn’t do it. (I’m aware I could be shooting myself in the foot here, over my questionable ‘talent,’ but hey, no one can question my dedication.) You want to reveal your life story? Do it in a gossip magazine- that’s what they’re there for.

 Perhaps I’m just bitter or grumpy, or can’t face the cold, hard truth of reality, but I can’t shake this skewed idea I have that unless you love reading and the written word, you shouldn’t be allowed to write. Why should people read your books, if you don’t read yourself? People who have never read a book in their lives and don’t intend to start, even with their own products, should not be allowed to make money from their ‘books.’ It’s just plain gross. For every celebrity who churns out a future bargain-bin waste of space without thought or care, there are thousands of would-be writers, dreaming, breathing and loving writing and being rejected by publishers across the world. 

Yes, I am aware that this horrible epidemic can’t be outlawed and that we don’t live in ‘fair’ land. I am also aware that some of these books could be amazing. I don’t know, I’ve never read any, and whether they’re amazing or shit is irrelevant. The issue is why they exist. I recently had an opportunity to do work experience at a big publishing company, and I actually sat through a meeting where one member of the team suggested approaching a certain popular octogenarian to see if he fancied 'writing' another autobiography. No one was keen on the pitch and everyone was clearly thinking: who actually cares what this celebrity has to say? But the idea wasn’t ruled out. You know why? Because they knew there might be money in it.

In all honesty, I just want to know why. Why do people read these books? What is there that draws people to them? Because, personally, I just can’t see it. If you are a fan of celebrity books, don’t be shy- I won’t bite your head off. I’m not attacking the readers, just the principle of celebrity books as a ruthless, calculated, moneymaking venture. I want to know what’s good about them so I can sleep better at night.

(Disclaimer: I do not actually stay awake at night worrying about the future of books because of the current epidemic of celebrity authors- I was just being dramatic. :D )


Laila Knight said...

Celebrity authors get on my nerves. Also, Raven's Keep sounds awesome. Keep the title. I'm interested in knowing what it's about. :)

prerna pickett said...

confession- I have read a celebrity nonfiction book was ugly. To my credit it was only a dollar and I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. Afterwards I thought ' so this can get published because said author (I use the term loosely) is a famous celebrity but all those other writers who put their blood sweat and tears into their work can't?' it's all about connections and money, as sad as that may seem. But I'm honestly not a cynic and I know that some day my hard work will pay off, it just takes patience and perseverance.

Eleanor at Mirror Of My World said...

i like celebrity autobiographies as their life stories are interesting.... but not fiction books claimed to be written by the authors. e.g. jordan. that is a purely money making vehicle. xxxx

Eleanor at Mirror Of My World said...

ps wonderous jessie j quote there

Leigh Ann said...


The celebrity "authors" bug me too.

Rachel Pudelek said...

Yah! What a great feeling to complete your first draft!!!!! Congrats!

I think people buy celebrity written books for the same reason they buy celebrity centered magazines like, People, etc. I think they like to know the nitty-gritty about someone else.

Caitlin said...

I really like the title Raven's Keep! I don't know why, but I'm really partial to books with the word Raven in the title, or character's named so.

But celebrity books aren't normally my thing. To be honest, I've never read one! I'd still like to read George W. Bush's book (I heard he tells about getting drunk at some kind of important dinner for his dad...I have to read that), but that's about it. It doesn't bother me, though. They deal with non-fiction, I deal with fiction.

Charlotte said...

Thanks Laila and Caitlin for commenting on the title- glad you like it. And thanks to those who congratulated me on my first draft. I'm busy editing now!

I've realised that I DO understand the drawer for wanting to know about celebrities' lives, I just can't understand how people are willing to PAY for those books.

Prerna I'm with you on not being a cynic- I should try harder to not be one, and Els, I knew you'd like the Jessie J quote! :) I'm now going to take its advice and stop for a minute and smile!