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Celebrities as Novelists

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The fine folks over at Bookninja are brewing up some Liquid Drano tea in response to this story. And while I might, under normal conditions, share their frustrations, right now I’m riding high on endorphins from working out and protein shakes. And since, in a mere three weeks, I’m going to transform myself from dumpy-and-pudgy to buff-and-beefcake, then I welcome this news item and will plan to meet the lovely Jordan when we are both nominated for the National Book Award.

The Telegraph in Britain reported that model Jordan (real name, Katie Price) has been paid a six-figure advance by Random House for two novels and her autobiography. Jordan’s first autobiography (how can a 27-year-old possibly need more than one autobiography?) was published last year by Blake and sold almost 500,000 copies and earned 4.7 million pounds.

The model-now-author, best-known in the UK for appearing on the reality show I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here is scheduled to turn in the autobiography sequel for publication in February 2006. The fact that publishers like this kind of deal, where the name of the celebrity is guaranteed to sell some books, isn’t surprising, no matter how disheartening it might be to aspiring authors. Instead, what does surprise me is that the British Random House spokespeople couldn’t at least summon up some more enthusiasm for this project. I mean, at least pretend you’re excited. “We approached Katie [Price] with the idea. She is busy planning her wedding at the moment, but will start working on the books after that. I guess she will work with writers. I’m sure she will be a good novelist. I would imagine they will be set in the world with which she is familiar. They will be contemporary fiction,” said Random House divisional publicity director Charlotte Bush.

Don’t you love that? I don’t know about you, but I think that I guess she will work with writers and I’m sure she will be a good novelist are some of the most ringing endorsements I’ve heard in a long time. I would imagine they will be set in the world in which she is familiar… Hey Charlotte, can you at least PRETEND to have something resembling a real book deal here? You know, maybe with a proposal, or at least a writing sample or something?

I am hoping that Jordan at least reads the books that ultimately bear her name. I’m hoping that we don’t have a repeat the situation where Victoria Beckham reveals that she has never read a book in her life, despite having “written” an autobiography.

Now, my irritation is muted somewhat by my plans to use my six-pack-abs to sweep Jordan off her feet, break up these impending nuptials, and get all that advance money. But the British division of Random House isn’t alone in this new technique.

Coincidentally, Publishers Lunch recently reported that former E! Entertainment host Jules Asner sold a first novel entitled Whacked that tells the story of a screenwriter in LA working for a TV crime series whose increasingly obsessive and paranoid behavior in the wake of a boyfriend’s betrayal leads her to cross the line between real life and the life of her characters. At least with that one, there’s a title, a plot, and I would assume, actual words written down as opposed to details one “would imagine” like with Jordan’s deal.

There are plenty more instances of celebrities turning novelists, some even from beyond the grave. The recent Fan Tan by Marlon Brando and Donald Cammell is one example. And perhaps the most obvious role model for Jordan in her transformation from model to author is Pamela Anderson. Now with two books to her credit (along with co-writer Eric Shaw Quinn) Anderson has, I think, hit the bestseller list with her forays into fiction.

So I don’t know what to tell you, fellow aspiring authors. I guess having a celebrity author is an easy way to generate sales. I’m going to try and talk to some industry folks and get the inside scoop on this, maybe with some sales numbers, but in the meantime, I guess I’ll just say that I’ll be sure to help out all the aspiring authors when Jordan and I are enjoying her piles of money for some books that will be “contemporary fiction.”