Sunday, January 4, 2009

Once You're In -- Jennie

Celebrity children's books are everywhere.

I'm not talking about books about celebrities. I'm talking about books written by them.

Actors, dancers, comedians, and country singers have tried their hands at picture books, mostly of the tyke self-help nature, others with some stab at ecology. Morning talk-show hosts, afternoon talk-show hosts, even late-night talk-show hosts have authored something.

There are books by celebrity chefs, by a former NFL coach, by governors and governors' wives, and psychologists.

The list goes on.
Former President Jimmy Carter penned a kids' book. So did Fergie (the royal one). Spock spit out a read, and a soccer stud put out two. Just to give you an idea how many children's books are authored by celebrities, Google gives almost 4 million hits!

Why is this?

Are these folks really so talented, they can cross (even conquer) Amazon? Um. No. Unless you can overlook content. And character. And plot.

So why are celebrity books flying off shelves?

It's because of us. Americans. American consumers, to be exact. It's because of our obsession with Hollywood (or Washington, D.C.) (or even Nashville). We have it backwards, turning celebrities into authors, instead of turning authors into celebrities.

The bottom line? Celebrity books are being snatched up at ginormous advances, while invisible, talented writers, who have devoted their lives to poverty for the cause of creating the perfect kids' book, are totally ignored.

I'll just go ahead and say it: it's not fair!

Yes, I'm jealous. And mad and frustrated.

Those folks already have money. They already have fame. They already have everything.

Note to Madonna and Emeril: take your boredom elsewhere! Please! Leave writing kids' books to the unknown, unpaid authors who have an actual interest in it.

Note to you, the yet-to-be-famous: the situation is not totally hopeless. The picture-book market may be flooded with celebrity authors. But middle grade and young adult, far less so. Could that be because those markets are much more difficult? Because they are actually discerning? Is this the Kryptonite of celebrity authors?

Don't stop to think. Just write. Write fast, right now. Forget about content. You might have a chance at publishing a kids' book. Even if you're not a world-renowned financial analyst.


Christy Raedeke said...

"We have it backwards, turning celebrities into authors, instead of turning authors into celebrities."

Brilliant. So true, so sad.

Kelly Hudgins said...

Hear, hear!

I have a wonderful book in my head, and I'm too intimidated to try.

Anonymous said...

You're right on Jennie, and despite the wicked unfairness of the situation keep right on writing because I'll be reading!

jennie said...

I'm such a whiner. At least I admitted my jealousy.

Christy, you're an inspiration! Congrats on the Oregon Lit. Award!

Kelly, get that book out of your head and onto ... a computer screen?

Kerry, thanks for the encouragement.