|IN PRINT Kourtney Kardashian, left, Nicole Polizzi and Lauren Conrad are among a collection of celebrites with book deals.|
by: Julie Bosman
ASPIRING fiction writers, don’t take it too hard, but the Kardashian sisters, best known for their skill in cozying up to reality-show cameras, are about to publish their first novel.
“As wild as our real lives may seem on TV, just wait to read what we’ve dreamed up to deliver between the covers of our first novel,” Kourtney, Kim and Khloé said in a statement last week, announcing that William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, would publish a novel they had written.
And why not? Nicole Richie has had two novels published. Hilary Duff released her first novel, “Elixir,” last year. Lauren Conrad, the blond reality starlet, just landed a deal with HarperCollins to write a trilogy about a scheming, backstabbing Hollywood princess named Madison. Nicole Polizzi, otherwise known as Snooki of the MTV show “Jersey Shore,” published a novel in January, despite telling The New York Times last year that she had read only two books in her life. Her book, “A Shore Thing,” quickly landed on the New York Times best-seller list.
Like a branded fragrance or clothing line, the novel — once quaintly considered an artistic endeavor sprung from a single creative voice — has become another piece of merchandise stamped with the name of celebrities, who often pass off the book as their work alone despite the nearly universal involvement of ghostwriters. And the publishing industry has been happy to oblige.
“Publishers are smart enough to cash in where it’s appropriate,” said Ira Silverberg, a literary agent. “The question, I think, for many of us is: Is it simply commerce and we should laugh it off? Or does it take a slot away from a legitimate writer?”
There is certainly a wink-wink understanding among publishers, editors and agents that ghostwriters are behind many novels by celebrities, but it is not made clear to readers. Press releases announcing book acquisitions, like the one released by Gallery Books about Ms. Polizzi’s novel, rarely mention that there is another writer.
When promoting their books in the news media, celebrities tend to say they did all the work. When Ms. Polizzi appeared on “Today” in January, Matt Lauer asked, “Did you really write this book?”
“I did,” Ms. Polizzi said. “Because if you read it, you’ll know the first page that I wrote it. Cause, like, it’s all my language.” (When pressed further, she admitted that there was a co-writer.)
Ms. Richie promoted her second novel, “Priceless,” in an interview last year with USA Today, describing her writing routine: write early in the morning, before the rest of her family wakes up. “I write all my own stories,” she said.
But Ms. Richie’s publisher, Judith Curr of Atria Books, indicated otherwise, saying that a ghostwriter did most of the writing of Ms. Richie’s book. (Ms. Richie did not respond to a request for comment.)
What celebrities do contribute are storylines thinly based on their own lives, like in a book proposal by Tinsley Mortimer, the socialite and handbag designer, that made the rounds among major publishing houses last year.
When Ms. Mortimer pitched her book to publishers in meetings, said one editor who was there, she brought her ghostwriter. Simon & Schuster eventually purchased the book.
When the typical celebrity novel is published, only the celebrity’s name is printed on the book cover. (Generally, publishers believe that two names on a cover is a turnoff to readers, especially in fiction.) A brief reference to another writer or collaborator may appear deep on the acknowledgments page.
Ms. Duff, the pop singer and actress whose novel was published in October by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, said in an interview that she came up with the book’s plot and characters. She said she did not consider crediting her co-writer on the book cover instead of in the acknowledgments. “It is my story,” Ms. Duff said. “It is my book. I wrote it and she helped guide me through the process.” Ms. Curr, of Atria, traced the current popularity of celebrity novels to Pamela Anderson’s best seller, “Star,” which was released by Atria in 2004. (Ms. Anderson, the former “Baywatch” star, used a ghostwriter.)
Literary agents are now more aggressive in persuading celebrities and their managers to pitch novels to publishers, said Robert Gottlieb, chairman of the Trident Media Group, who said they can earn advances of $200,000 to $1 million. “They hire a writer, come up with an idea and do a novel that can be turned into a film or a television show,” he said. “It’s a way to extend the footprint of the celebrity.”
from: NY Times