MotherReader is championing Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors (BACA). Not, an author who has become a celebrity because of being an awesome writer; no, rather, those celebrities who write books; and 9 out of 10 times,* it's a book for children. Actually, it's usually a picture book for children.
Of course, there is some quibbling over how those celebrity authors are identified. I love Mandy by Julie Andrews so would not include her; others champion Jamie Lee Curtis (who I personally adore as an actress, but feel her books are way too message driven for my taste; still, she has respect for children's literature, so I won't argue Curtis's omission from BACA.)
Interestingly enough, as I was wondering the criteria for a "celebrity author," I saw a post at Miss Snark that emphasized the point that in order to be a good writer, you need to be a reader: "Read. Read. And when you're done, read some more. Read what you're interested in writing for now, but also read other things too. Then read some more of what you're interested in. Don't even write. Just read." This advise is found on almost every author website, in almost every book about writing and getting published. It's part of the "prep" work needed as a writer, to make an effort to know what is out there, to read a variety, to become aware of things such as the ALSC notables lists. To just rely on the rememberings of books read in childhood; nope, not good enough. To just rely on the books you find at Target; nope, not good enough.
I would think that what the celebrity does for a living** requires preparation, whether it's singing, sports, acting. And that the good ones do what is necessary to be "best" at that particular art. So why, when it comes to books, do they act as if nothing is required except to sit down at the laptop and start typing? Or is acting and singing and baseball really that easy, that they think other things are, also?
Reading, in my humble opinion, is at the heart of why celebrities are not, for the most part, good writers. Now, I'm not saying that they are illiterate; I'm not saying that they don't read at all; but I doubt that many of them read, read, and then read some more. I doubt they treat writing a children's book the same way they treat their "real" profession.
If a celebrity author does do those things -- read, read, and read some more -- then it'll be obvious. Because the book will be good. And I'll read it and review it; not because it's a celebrity author, but because it's a book by an author who happens to be a celebrity.
Some additional notes to celebrity authors who want to be judged as authors, rather than championed as celebrities:
--Books aren't about teaching lessons. They are about good stories. In that way books are just like the movies and TV shows you make and the songs that you sing.
--It is a universal truth that you could read the phone book to your own children and they will love it; it's the attention, the being read to, the belief that they are in the story that the kids love. It's not a thumbs up to the actual story. Testing out your book on your own children doesn't count.
-- Books need to be universal. Yes, the story just for your child is sweet; a wonderful family memory; leave it at that. Why the need to share this tender moment between parent and child by publishing it? Especially because other readers will know it's not for them.
--Write about what you know.
-- Study. Find out what it is that makes good writing work.
--Take the same risks you take in your "real life" job. If you're willing to be naked (either emotionally or for real) on film, why not be willing to be naked on the page by being honest in your writing?
--Join a writing group or take a class where you can get real feedback. No, your hired assistants telling you the book is perfect don't count.
--Get an awesome editor. Trust the editor. Listen to the editor. Revise.
--Publish under a different name. Writing is one area where people can remain anonymous, at least for a short time period. Let your work live or die on it's own.
Any one else have any guidelines on how to turn a celebrity into an author?
* I am perhaps being overly generous; perhaps 99 out of a 100 is more accurate. Especially when we exclude memoirs; books written with a ghostwriter; and books that are related to the reasons why they are a celebrity.
** Paris Hilton is the exception.