I hear things from time to time and I really should take more notice, but the moment usually passes, and most of the time, days pass before I think about it again. I’ve often forgotten who said or where it was written, but the words stick with me. Today’s musing is no different. Someone said recently,
“It is only celebrities that publishers want these days. Why is that? Simple, they already have millions of fans to sell millions of books to.”
Think about it. If Tori Spelling writes a book, she instantly has a best seller, not because of her literary prowess, but because of her pop culture fandom. The list goes on and on of Celebrities hocking their “masterpieces.” Publishers are smart. The million dollar book deal no longer exists for true writers. Books no longer cost $20 because people no longer will pay that. Most books go for a 99 cent special or even free e-book. Common thought: the money is just not viable in the illustrious “book deal” of days past. So the only way publishers are finding they can get the bang for their buck, is CELEBRITY… instant success.
What does that say for all of us writing our little hearts out, with nothing to show but a heap of words and rejection letters? As the Magic 8 ball would suggest… OUTLOOK NOT SO GOOD.
I came across this Pittsburg Press Newspaper article from 1975. It was about Squeaky Fromm writing her account of the Manson Murders. (Sound familiar?) The author of the article was the amazing Ron Powers. His article encapsulated all the struggles of true writers… and times they may have changed, but this article could have easily been written in 2013 about Casey Anthony.
Here is the take away…
“The spectacle of major American publishers prostrating themselves before such non-authors as jocks, rock stars, terrorist and outlaws is depressing enough in itself. It is a convincing enough validation of the celebrity adulation in this country that has corrupted the distinction between genuine achievement and mere eccentric behavior.”
He goes on to say…
“But all this is not the worst effect on the celebrity book. The worst effect is that celebrity books, with their presold success, have put an almost intolerable pressure on “serious” authors (that is authors without a hit record or a prison record) to write promotable books-books that are, in the current euphemism of the industry, “commercially viable.”
So you see, the players may have changed, but the game is still the same. Authors trying to “breakthrough” in 1975 were experiencing the same things we are today. They have the same mindless Celebs to compete with and they have the same parade of nonsense courtesy of the media. We must not let that be our excuse or crutch.
The article concludes with an excerpt from Stuart Brent’s book, “The Seven Stairs.”
“And what of the writer? If he can turn out bestsellers, he can live like a potentate. But the sure fire formula in this field is to pander to a sex-starved culture – and a dirty, vulgar one to boot. A book written by this or any other formula can’t be worth anything. A true book must be part of the individual’s life and spirit.”
Write on my friends.