Celebrity Writers – Do We Need Them?

Most of the books reviewed for the next couple of weeks are written by celebrities. This is my theme for July I was interested to see if celebrity written picture books were better because they could afford great editors and illustrators or worse because they were resting on their reputations.

The celebrities I have included are: Sarah Ferguson the Duchess of York, Jerry Seinfeld, Jamie Lee Curtis, Julie Andrews, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, John Lithgow, and Will Smith. Some of the styles were entirely predictable, such as Jerry Seinfeld’s foray into Halloween memoir and Steve Martin’s zany alphabet. John Lithgow’s work was odd, not unexpected. Will Smith and Billy Crystal were sentimental and genuine. Julie Andrews wrote old-fashioned fantastical work. Jamie Lee Curtis was clever and deep. Sarah Ferguson was the most unpredictable after her little helicopter book was such a disaster. I think you’ll find some good reads and some books to avoid.

I was surprised there weren’t more in my public library as I felt as though we were being inundated with celebrity writing. Once I began researching, I realized most of them are written for adults and a lot are memoir. Perhaps this is a testament to the incredible difficulty of writing a good quality picture book.

I must admit I am not up-to-date on celebrities. I don’t read celebrity magazines. I seldom click on websites about the beautiful and famous. I don’t watch television shows where the rich and adored interview each other. So I googled who were the most famous people of 2016. There were a surprising number in the top 50 that I did not recognize. It will be interesting to see if any of these foray into writing. It seems to be a quick and easy way to make a buck, especially if you’re writing a tell-all. The sad thing is, the market is already glutted with more writers than readers and struggling authors have little chance of competing with brand names. Just how much of the pie do the ultra rich need to feel complete? Will Smith, for example, has been the highest or one of the highest-paid actors several years in a row. Does he really need the money from a picture book, one that could have been created by someone whose entire focus is writing?

How do you feel about celebrity authors? Do you think they are crowding the market and making it more difficult for beginning writers to be recognized? Do you feel their writing stands out in any way? I’d love to hear your opinions.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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2 thoughts on “Celebrity Writers – Do We Need Them?

  1. Being in the public eye should not be the ticket to automatic success as a children’s book writer. I have not done an exhaustive study of the subject, but I suspect just seeing a familiar name on that shelf leads many customers to subconsciously believe that success as an entertainer means talent as a writer as well.

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