Saturday, August 11, 2007

You've Seen This Monkey Flinging Crap in the Movies... Now, Watch Him Fling Crap in Children's Books!

As an editor, you get a celebrity manuscript come across your desk, do you say behind closed doors "This is really bad but because it is written by Sally Sleezeball we'll publish it and our company will make a lot of money." Does that get discussed? Do you realize that it's bad when it gets published and nobody cares because it is going to make a lot of money, because it is after all a business and it will sell?

Yes, that's right.
We are told all along as writers that it's about the story. The writing has to be fantastic, the cover letter has to be marvelous, the query has to be wonderful. Why are celebrities not held to the standards that we are? And if in fact they aren't held to the same standards and it is ALL about a P & L statement why do editors just not fix the story and the bad rhyme so we don't know that Sally Sleezeball is as bad as she really is.

Oh, I wish. Celebrities come strapped with celebrity egos, however, and often cannot be told they need a ghostwriter. And the poor editor, who is already grinding her teeth to have to work on such drivel, has to deal with an author whose attitude is "Huh! Who are you to tell me how to make my story better?"

Your-goddamned-editor, is who.

I am a confirmed member of BACA, but it's worth noting that if a celebrity book brings in a bunch of money, it has the chance to bankroll other books that are higher quality but lower profile. If it gives us the chance to slip some not-so-sure-bets into the pipeline just because we love them, we're willing to be flexible. As I maintain, editors are not evil. But they can be all kinds of devious in the right cause.


Brenda Sturgis said...

I just posed this very question on Verla's blueboard. Glad to see somebody else is on the same page.
Thank you for your brillant answer.
It certainly makes it much easier to take.

You are the best EA!
Brenda Sturgis

Anonymous said...

I'd be curious if celebrity books do make publishers lots of money, on average. I've certainly heard of some high-profile ones losing money, thanks in part to the enormous advances celebrities command.

Miles Aller said...

Karl Rove resigned and he wants to spend time "writing a book and teaching." Maybe he's into children's literature...

Bev. Cooke said...

I'm wondering the same thing as anonymous - if the book loses money, then it doesn't get more good kids books into the market, it does take away from those of us with careers or aspiring to have careers in the kid lit field. Do you know if anyone's done a study on this?

Anonymous said...

Hi EA--

This is appros of nothing in this particular post, but can you share with your readers how completely insane it makes us lovely gals to constantly be addressed as "Dear Sirs"?

Not so much a male-dominated industry, children's publishing.

Anonymous said...

What I REALLY hate is when celebs behave as though they are doing the book buying public a REAL FAVOUR by writing or ghosting their poxy book. If they were to be honest and say: "Children's books are shorter and I want the kudos of being seen as semi-literate and make a shedload of money" instead. Jools Oliver (wife of Jamie so celeb-by-association) is writing a children's book!! Why? "Because I couldn't find enough simple stories for children." Oh those poor children having to suffer the talentless ramblings of J.K Rowling, Philip Pullman, Babette Cole, Dr Seuss etc until you, the genius Jools came along. Grrrrrrr.

Keith Sheppard said...

Unless she was just being nice to me, my most recent rejection letter certainly said, in no uncertain terms, that celebrity rules the day in the book world.

I was told my book was "an excellent pastiche", "very well written" and that the subject was "very much in vogue" but then went on to reject it on the grounds that "items like this only sell from a celebrity author". said...

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