I’m a celebrity get me a … book deal?

Sometimes it feels like celebrities have it all. They can act, they can sing, they can look good shopping for their weekly groceries and now, they can write? It appears that celebrities these days have a never-ending repertoire of skills and more and more seem to be adding ‘best-selling author’ to their lists.

With many amateur authors hoping to make a name and career for themselves, the publishing industry already feels cutthroat. Like many things, it’s a tough market to crack! The increase in celebrity book deals over the last few years has definitely caused some tension, as a number of already established authors feel that they’re being ousted and virtually replaced by these big stars. In the lead-up to World Book Day, children’s author David Almond protested, and criticised the organisers for favouring celebrity names over established authors. He believed that by using celebrity names to promote the event and their own books, it was giving readers the false idea that fame matters more than talent. A message easily embraced by younger people.

Best sellers don’t necessarily equal best pay check. Despite receiving an advance and a 3-more-book deal, Irish novelist Donal Ryan has found that being a full-time writer means he struggles to earn a living wage. Celebrities, however, seem to be getting good deals, having a huge advantage when chasing lucrative book contracts. According to several reports, including a Business Insider UK article, Amy Schumer was given one of the highest book advance deals in publishing, at a rumoured $8-10 million USD.  Celebrity advances are usually a lot higher than those paid to standard children’s authors.

A big trend over the last few years are YouTuber book deals. Many YouTubers have been approached by large publishing houses with the hope that they can engage a younger audience through promoting their books across their platforms. YouTube beauty and fashion blogger, Zoe Sugg (better known on YouTube as Zoella) became the fastest selling debut author for her book ‘Girl Online’. With her already established audience, ‘Girl Online’ quickly took on a life of its own and Penguin jumped at the opportunity to turn it into a trilogy. Despite her success, Zoe’s status as an ‘author’ caused some discussion as it was later uncovered that she had used a ghost writer. Her fan base, consisting primarily of young teen and pre-teen girls, felt betrayed by the idea that she hadn’t actually written the book herself.

The term author becomes questionable when bringing ghost writers into the mix – did you really write a book… if someone else did the writing? Many celebrities use ghost writers to tell their stories, insisting that the ideas and characters are their own, but they need help formulating the plot. What feels unfair is that almost anybody can claim to have characters and mini-plots formed in their own heads, but aren’t given a whole editorial team to help them produce a book.

How genuine is a celeb’s desire to write their ‘own’ book (as so many stars have claimed)? Why suddenly, now, after your success in the modelling industry, do you feel you can grace the YA genre with a fiction novel, Cara Delevigne? Perhaps it is genuine, perhaps these people do really want to write a story and there is real talent and I’m just bitter?

Jessica Cooke