The Path to Publishing: Become Famous First

There are a growing number of actors, talk show hosts, and anyone else who has had more than the standard 15 minutes of fame showing up as authors on the children’s bookshelf.

I would guess their path is a lot easier than those of us going the more traditional route.

  • I doubt any of these fine people ever reviewed children’s books.
  • I doubt they’ve taken the time to read dozens of books on writing, taken classes, or attended writing conferences.
  • Finally, they probably never had to enter a contest to get their work noticed or tirelessly read blogs.

Yeah, I get it. They’re famous and publishers want to sell books. Having a name that people recognize gives the book a jumpstart, along with a prominent place on a store shelf.

614a2j+UDGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_My first interest in a famous person’s children’s book came in the late 1980’s. I was watching reruns of The Munsters. Not sure why. Anyway, a short time later I came across a book authored by Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster). It was amusing so I bought it, and I still have the copy. Mr. Gwynne authored numerous children’s books and his talents as an artist showed through in every title.

So suddenly in the past year we’ve had an onslaught of the famous hoping to strike it rich with their own books (and in some cases co-written). Their names are almost as large as the titles. I wish them the best of luck and would love to add them to my TBR list, but I’ve got rewrites, reviews to finish, and a critique group meeting to attend.


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About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
This entry was posted in Book Lists, New Release, Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Path to Publishing: Become Famous First

  1. I watch Jimmy Fallon pretty regularly (the day after on my DVR). I find myself grating my teeth every time he shows Dada, and he shows it a LOT. Yup. If we had that platform, we could sell a lot of books too. That said, I think it’s a cute idea for a book, but more for adults than kids. I suspect the only thing he wrote was his name on a contract.

    • Yes, I’ve caught him hawking his book. I also saw it prominently displayed at the checkout lane in our local grocery store. Not much we can do about it but keep writing. Thanks for stopping by so frequently.

  2. I have a huge loathing for any celeb who writes a book. It’s so unfair to me. They don’t have to endure what we do, and yet they get the huge deals and all the publicity. plus they don;t even write the books, they have ghostwriters! so unfair.

  3. I don’t completely agree with you about celebrity authors. I know that Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton haven’t always found it easy to publish, in fact there have times it has been harder because of Julie’s celebrity status — a topic they talked about at a SCBWI conference in 2013. They have co-authored over 30 books, poetry anthologies and books to help parents raise bookworms. Julie has been publishing since 1972 and is a major advocate for children’s literacy. Emma has her MFA in Children’s Literature and teaches at Southampton Stonybrook University, is very involved with SCBWI and the children’s literature community. She’s also a wonderful editor.

    Henry Winkler is also another fabulous author, and co-authors books with Lin Oliver, founder of SCBWI. They have been a team for years. Whoopi Goldberg wrote a series of beautiful picture books for African-American kids. Sarah Ferguson has written some outstanding picture books. I could go on.

    I’d be careful about generalizations. There are some very good celebrity authors who have to work equally hard to be taken seriously by the publishing world. They have to exercise their writing muscle like every author.

    • There’s always exceptions as you pointed out. I did enjoy Fred Gwynne’s writings and illustrations along with John Lithgow. I’ve also admired Julie Andrews and her books.

      There’s quality out there if you dig deep enough, but generally if you have a famous name the doors are often already open. The name is what sells the book. I’d enjoy hearing the stories of any of these people who wrote children’s books. I doubt many of them took the path most of us take… President Obama, Jimmy and Amy Carter, Katie Couric, Jerry Seinfeld, John Travolta, Steve Martin, Madonna, Jay Leno, and countless more.

  4. Kevin Gerard says:

    Madonna – puleeze. She jumped in the deep end, dropped millions on advertising and then vanished.

    I attended the LA Times Festival of Books one year. I wanted to buy one of Ms. Andrews books and have her sign it just so I could thank her for Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Alas, her line stood at three hours when I got there, so I sneaked a glance and left.

    I write novels for kids because I love the characters, the plots, and the fact that I’ve been blessed with an art for storytelling. The reactions I receive from readers move me deeply. Perhaps someday I’ll reach the tipping point, and it’ll feel all the better because right now I’m the least famous person I know.

    • But your fame will spread even wider as you are featured in tomorrow’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! I hope you’ll be back for a look.

      • Kevin Gerard says:

        Wowie WOWIE!

        You are right. Thank you, Greg, for a wonderful review. One thing I always hear from readers is that while they love the story and love Diego and Racquel, they REALLY LOVE Magnifico, Diego’s Dragon.

        He is a different sort. I like him that way. Readers will notice that through his gruff, scaly exterior he holds a soft spot in his heart for Diego.

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