My heart sank when I read this.
So Frank Lampard’s at it now, too. Not to mention Theo. And Jordan. And Ricky Gervais. And those are just the children’s writers. What about the rest, the celebs bombarding us with their ghostwritten “memoirs”, diet tips and the rest? It’s enough to make a wannabe published writer gag (again).
But I shouldn’t complain. Because this, apparently, is what we want. It’s not enough that we watch our favourite comedian performing the same barely-altered routine night after brain-flattening night. We want to read all about his childhood and how he was somehow just better than everyone else at school. We want Jordan’s jodhpurs and Frankie’s football and we want it all insatiably, so much so that surely there wouldn’t be room for the kind of stuff I write even if it was good enough for people to want to read it.
Of course the reason we want it is that it’s thrown at us by publishers and bookshops, and the reason it’s thrown at us is because it’s an easy money-spinner. The main ingredient in selling a book is the marketing, not the book itself, and if the writer’s a celebrity that’s half the publisher’s job done for them before they’ve even started. Can you blame them?
And it’s not as if those who’d rather read a Rushdie have anything to complain about, either. Because (much as Disney has grown its own market and still left room for everything else), there are plenty of Booker-crackers lurking out there. More than ever, now, thanks to the ability to publish your own e-book for little if any cost. There is room for the kind of stuff I write after all. So what’s the problem?
Well, in spite of the occasional notable success, self-publication remains a lottery, with similar odds of hitting the jackpot. There are more of us writing than ever, because we can self-publish if we have to. But without a publisher backing us with money and a marketing strategy we’re left crossing our fingers and hoping the big fat finger in the sky will point our way. If the publishers are all blowing their budgets on Wolf Hall we can shrug and say fair enough, I’d like to have written that one myself. But when every other billboard is adorned with a ten-foot-tall Michael McIntyre or a Jordan or a Frank Lampard, then all we can do is shake our heads and despair.
On the bright side, the route to success has never been clearer. All I need to do is forge a successful career as a comedian, footballer or glamour model and literary glory will finally be within my reach.