Celebrity authors have been around for years. They've always been just about tolerated, but now they're seen as a threat to the publishing world. Their books constantly top the book charts, and their products are the first you see in Waterstones. However, is the product they produce worth the adulation that some get?
You only have to check the shelves at your local bookshop, or the pages of Amazon to see that the number of celebrities writing fiction books is increasing exponentially. I'm not talking memoires or autobiographies (that's another discussion) but works of fiction. The top selling author at the moment is Richard Osman, a very likeable personality who hosts numerous quiz shows. I don't want to take a pop at him, but he's part of the problem. I've always shied away from 'celebrity authors'.
Imagine my surprise when our book group was given his first novel to read. So, I had to pick it up and read all the way through. What was my opinion and also that of my group? Well, it was an OK read, nothing earth shattering. It was a cozy murder with an unbelievable setting. Sort of Famous Five with pensioners. Did I rate it as high as the sales? No. If it had been an unknown writer I wonder if it would have been published, or even get a space on the bookshelf. My book group had the same opinion. Celebrity authors are here to stay, publishers make too much money out of them. yet as an adult you can choose whether to read their books. Me I will always look for that gem of an undiscovered tome.
Children on the other hand don't always get to choose their own books. The children's chart is stacked with books by celebrities and books that have been around for years (Harry Potter). It seems every celebrity is signed up to 'write' a children's book. I fully expect Prince Harry to appear with one soon. For parents and grandparents, they take the chart as an indicator that they're good books. Don't even get me started on David Walliams. There's so much new talent out there writing great children's and young adult fiction, yet these celebrities who don't even author their own books get the limelight and the money.
So, should celebrities be signed up by publishers to author books? Yes, if they can actually write and produce books that are good. The truth is usually that they see them as a way of getting the book known to the public. The author's name is also more prominent than the title. It's the public who needs to be more discerning and look beyond the name and try something by an unknown author. 99% of the time they'll find that it'll be far more enjoyable and beautifully written than pointless celebrities.
[Not picking on Richard Osman as he does seem a decent bloke, but at the whole cult of celebrity author]