More and more celebrities are branching into publishing as the next step in their career. It is clear that titles released by celebrities are more likely to sell. As a text it may not be the best fiction, autobiography or a cookbook, stylistically speaking, but it is more likely to secure free promotion and also more sales. Celeb-authors add their already existing fanbase to the market. Those amongst the fanbase who don’t read, but consider themselves to be quite hardcore followers, are more likely to purchase this new title simply, because of the celebrity link. Those who do read, but are not huge fans might purchase the book, because they recognize the name or simply out of curiosity.
A celebrity author will eat into a wider market, more than an unknown or established author can, and if the title is good it will also survive the demands of that market. Also, it is worth mentioning that Celebrity titles have become quite a thing, in the sense that there are people who actively seek out biographies and autobiographies from the most famous personalities. Hard copies are brought not only to read but to collect and display. There is a certain social credibility that comes with owning such a title that cannot be ignored. If reader preference is determined by the name on the cover then promotion is not only about the created work, but also about the creator of the piece.
Whilst it is smart business to have celebrity authors in your house, the impact this has on other authors, who are just authors, should be measured. Do we financially invest in these authors in the same way as we might in a celebrity authors? Full-time authors will use a significant part of their earnings to reinvest in themselves and the business, as well as to develop their craft, whilst for a celebrity, the paycheck is mostly another source of income. However, the advance and royalties an author receives are not measured in terms of how much an author is worth investing in but rather in the perceived value of the author and the financial and social impact he or she will have.
The celebrity factor will certainly generate sales and perhaps, celebrities have succeeded in a way to take over the financial aspect of the publishing world. Yet, I sense that there is a resistance for any publishing house to ever be seen as one who releases only celebrity titles. There are the financial advantage and the increase in human and intellectual capital that allows this to be a smart move, but there is something invaluable in finding and establishing new talent that will never be replaced. Somewhere in the wild heart of publishing, is the desire to find a gem that can be the next big bestseller.