Stay Outta My Business!

Maybe it has been going on all along, but I’ve noticed more celebrity-authored books lately. I browse the New York Times book review section each week, and recently one week’s issue has a book by Bruce Springsteen . . . and another week’s issue features a book by Bob Odenkirk. Not too long ago there was a review of James Franco’s poetry book.

Dammit!  As though these guys need publicity! 

It’s hard enough to earn a living as a writer without having to compete with famous people who are dabbling in the literary arts for a moment. No one I know makes a living from the royalties on our books. We teach, give lectures, write grants, ghost write, do freelance work, all while trying to get some of our own writing done. But still, we have to compete for sales with rock stars, comedians and movie stars— who, frankly, make more money on one album, tour or movie than I will make in my life.

Get out of the book business! Say what you have to say in your own medium.

While I’m spouting off my frustrations, I may as well add this one: for quite a few weeks, books by Duck Dynasty‘s Sy Robertson and Phil Robertson were topping the nonfiction bestseller lists! So it’s not enough to get wealthy on your duck calls, your DVDs, and your TV show— you’ve got put your gimmicky caricatures into print and take book sales away from legitimate authors, too . . .

Many good books by hard-working, competent writers – some of which win major or minor prizes – will get neglected because some curious reader will shell out that twenty bucks to see what James Franco’s poetry is like or what weird crap Uncle Sy will say next. While good books and authors go unnoticed, a chain bookseller, a New York publisher and a major media personality will snap up that money and attention. Meanwhile, a book that discusses an important theme or topic will collect dust, be returned to Ingram, then remaindered by the publisher . . .

The whole thing gets under my skin.

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