Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Writing a Book Is Easy...Like Writing a Long Email

Real Housewives can do it all. They can sing...




They can dance burlesque...




And, as we've already established, they can write books.



Lots...



...and lots...



and lots of books.



Professional writers are fine with that. We know that the big publishers realize the built-in audience for this sort of thing and all these books are pretty much ghostwritten anyway. Does anyone really think this woman could write a coherent paragraph?



The problem comes when a real writer joins the cast. Carole Radziwill is a former ABC News correspondent and Glamour magazine columnist who sold her first novel to Holt Publishing in a six-figure deal in 2014.



Carole is also on Real Housewives of New York alongside the woman who wrote this book:




Carole, like many writers who have worked for decades at our craft, was feeling a little frustrated listening to her friend brag about her book deal. She asked if Aviva had a ghostwriter. Turns out, she had multiple ghostwriters. But at first she denied it, saying writing a book was really easy, like "writing a long email."



What ensued was a multi-episode battle titled "bookgate" where the non-writer said the writer had a ghostwriter, too, and the writer said the non-writer doesn't know the difference between an editor and a ghostwriter. Apparently because "it takes a village" to write a book, the non-writer's argument was that anyone who says she wrote a book alone is lying.



Okay...so at this point I'm going to amend my earlier statement that published authors aren't bothered by reality stars getting book deals. As Carole Radziwell put it, Aviva Drescher's comments about writing being "easy" completely disrespect the years of hard work it takes to become a successful writer. Ghostwritten or not, the cold, hard truth is that Aviva Drescher would never have gotten a book published if not for being on a reality TV show. Carole Radziwell, on the other hand, would have likely had a book published eventually because of her talent. 



Sure, she has led an interesting life--once married to a Kennedy, best friends with Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, etc. She was actually the one who reported John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s plane missing to the Coast Guard that morning.



But she's also a writer. When you're a writer, it's not what you do...it's who you are. Anyone who is an artist understands that. Unfortunately, reality TV stars are rarely true artists. If they were, they'd be creating art rather than trying to get attention for looking pretty.



It's understood that celebrities will sell books. They may be actors, singers, dancers, or reality show stars...but they aren't writers. When they compare themselves to someone who has put years of hard work into a field, then it's a problem. That's when we'll make an issue of the fact that they only got a book deal because they allow cameras to follow them around 24 hours a day while they create pretend drama.

49 comments:

  1. That's the only reason Snookie got a book deal. And if people think she wrote it, then they are really delusional.
    It's a business, but it's sad when only money not the actual craft matters. I heard an interview a couple years ago with two rock bands, and they said the industry had changed so much in the past twenty-thirty years. It used to be about the music, but the new breed of producers only cares about the money.

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    1. I find it funny that we've now gotten to a point where book publishers will pay someone like Snookie to just put her name and basic concept into a book, then have someone with talent write it. I know that's what celebrities have always done with their biographies but in a reality show world, it's now evolved to fiction and how-to books, as well.

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  2. I can't even write a long email.

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    1. Short emails are the real challenge! Nobody wants to read a long email anyway.

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  3. yup, what Alex said. When Snookie wrote 'Gorilla Beach" I nearly lost my shiz. But the real thing that got me was Zoe Sugg's book, b/c it was SO SIMILAR to mine, even my agent was furious. And we'd been subbing earlier than her book and she sells like a zillion copies. For anyone to act like it's easy, and they'd have the book deal no matter what is delusional. It's only because of their built-in audience. but they're all flashes in the pan. No one even talks about Snookie much anymore thankfully. Once the shows go away, they do lol

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    1. My first book series was about tween ghost hunters...then the Ghost Hunters guys put their name on a ghostwritten fictional book about ghost hunting and I just rolled my eyes. No offense to the Ghost Hunters guys, but just stick to what you do best. Plus, there's something weird about a ghostwritten book about ghosts!

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  4. Oh, ugh. Like writing a long email? In reality, that's probably what she did. Wrote down a big bunch of words and then it was handed over to the ghost writer to actually make it good. Every now and then I watch the Housewife shows when I want a good chuckle. =)

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    1. Can you imagine having to be a ghostwriter for that group? They probably made some poor talented soul follow her around for weeks, trying to scribble down the things she said. I read the part about how she lost her leg, which is how the book starts...it's a pretty compelling story, but I'm sure the ghostwriter had a huge hand in putting it into words.

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  5. Celebrities can write books, just ask their ghost writers

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    1. Yes...they can say "write this down" with the best of them!

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  6. Ugh and grrrrr....Who reads those books anyway? Personally I have 0 desire to read a book written by and/or about a reality show personality. But that's just me. I guess someone out there is reading them.

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    1. I can honestly say I've never read a book written by a reality star. I'm a HUGE Big Brother fan and I haven't even read Dan Gheesling's book--I think it's just "how to get on a reality show" or something like that, which I have no interest in doing!

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  7. Your post pretty well captures what's gone wrong with big publishing and big bookstores in the past few decades. Thankfully there are other alternatives now for real writers' voices to be heard.

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    1. It's all about $$$. I get it. Publishing houses know it's a sure sell. And millions of people watch shows like Real Housewives and Keeping Up with the Kardashians for some reason. There are reality show stars that make those women look like geniuses, though (Honey Boo-Boo, Snooky, etc.)

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  8. Omg seriously. I would never buy any of those books written by these idiots. Real housewives are the worst!!

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    1. LOL. I'm not sure who all these people are who buy them.

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  9. I can't stand hearing these morons speak, let alone read a word their ghostwriters have to say lol

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    1. Carole Radziwill was interesting, though. She has that Kennedy connection, so maybe that just makes her classier than the others. I also liked the woman who was married to LeAnn Rimes' husband. She's pictured up there with her book, Drinking and Tweeting. When she first joined the Beverly Hills version, she had a spunk that was so interesting to watch. She just thumbed her nose at all the silliness. Now I think she's become one of them, so no fun there!

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  10. I know nothing about writing a book but I've never wanted to be an author. I spent 25 years writing critical reports that were torn apart in a court of law. That was enough. Being a good writer is tough work.

    It appears that many have found a way around the good writing part.

    Loved the video.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I don't think I'd want to write critical reports! Yeah, the video is pretty painful. Auto-tune all the way through. What's the point if every syllable will be that heavily auto-tuned? Just get a computer to sing the song!

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  11. One of my favorite celebrity book is The Art of Happiness by the Dali Lama. I just love his books and you can tell he know his subject throughly. That's a book that I really love to read. I have lend that book to two different people and had a difficult time getting it back from the first and the second kept it.

    I may be off subject a bit but if I spend my money on books, it better be good. Shame on those celebrities to claim they wrote a book by themselves. It does take a village to write a book. Just look at the acknowledgements at the beginning of a good book.

    Hugs,
    JB

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    1. That's true...we work hard for our money and there are only so many books we can read. Why waste time on junk like this?

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  12. Who says long emails are easy? :P No seriously that is upsetting. I can't even imaging the blood, sweat, and tears that go into actually writing a book and to have someone blow it off like that, is pretty insulting.

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    1. Yeah...and what was so frustrating was that she kept implying that because Carole had an editor, that meant she didn't write it herself. The whole "It takes a village..." nonsense. Yes, it takes teamwork to get a book on the shelves, but the writer still writes it. We're the ones who put the words down.

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  13. I guess a celebrity thinks they can get their 15 minutes (or more) of fame in as many venues as they can, author, artist, singer, etc. Most of their books end up on the bargain tables pretty quickly I would imagine.

    betty

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    1. Yes, and I would add that Princess Luann or Dutchess Luann or whatever royal title she holds insults singers everywhere by thinking she can make music by just walking into a studio and having someone doctor it all up.

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  14. You are my new girl crush! (lol) Everything you write about is fun, informative and things I wanna know and totally love it! I had no idea all that has been happening with the Reality wives, but it's interesting and puts the art of writing into perspective. I definitely have my doubts about long e-mails being the equivalent of a good novel. I had to respond to an attorney who was interviewing me via e-mail a long time ago, and I nearly went bonkers! I knew that if that thing wasn't worded properly or made sense, I was outta there. I've said this before - writers are born. Something in them insists that they write, no matter what. Hugs...

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    1. Awww, thank you! There's an old joke about a historical figure who wrote, "Sorry this letter is so long. I didn't have time to write a short one." Brevity is very difficult. In fact, I think picture book writers are brilliant. Every word has to count when your book only has 100 or so words.

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  15. What I don't understand is why anyone actually reads these "celebrity" books in the first place. I mean, we all know reality shows aren't real, so why would a book by a reality star be any more real?

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  16. What Remains is a very good book and had me in tears throughout. Carole can write non-fiction, for sure. But her novel. OMG....I couldn't get past chapter one. Just awful!

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  17. Sadly when TV hosts publish books here in my country they're the best selling ones too... it's deeply embarrassing when you see thousands of housewives buying their cheap books thinking it's real literature

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  18. Sigh.
    I am grateful that we don't have ghost painters, potters and sculptors as well. I am soooo over the name being the reason to buy a product. And even more over the concept of a book as nothing more than a product.

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  19. I think anyone with half a brain knows that these celebrities only get book deals because of who they are on tv at the time and if they weren't on tv they never would have a book out. It's pretty obvious that they had ghostwriters.

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  20. I think you've hit it. We all need to find reality "stars" to "host" our books. They don't have to do any real work (as per normal) but lend their "star" power to help promote. I wonder how much you'd have to cut them in for. Probably all of it. Ah well...

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  21. Yes! This! I'm always astounded by the million dollar deals they do!

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  22. These people are only temporary in the long term of things. I always say its the best comedy on TV. I just can't take any of the show serious.

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  23. I've never acquired a taste for reality shows. And for anyone to say writing is easy....Really? And all this time I thought it was challenging;)

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  24. Ha, Stephanie. But publishers want books that sell big time and celebrity comes with assured top sales. Who cares if they can write or not, eh? The hard-slog author will probably never see the return for their work, but satisfaction is worth something I hope. Yep, Writing must be easy if you have a fleet of ghostwriters. :-)

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  25. Oh the sadness! Why do these people who are fake in every way be able to get a book deal. I know why but seriously?? I am pretty sure the only thing they read is Cosmo and that is just for the pictures and the sex quiz. I want to see a reality show of real housewives-you know the ones who dress in sweats, no make-up trying to make things work financially while buying their food at local Wal-Mart and telling their kids to zip it

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  26. Snookie! So many comments mention her - a perfect example. I know nothing about writing, but I've always been irritated by the instant celebrity associated with these "reality" shows. Oooooohhhhhh, I hate them so much. Good, bad or ugly, I have never gotten into them...and now they are "writing" books?

    Money trumps talent; that's sad.

    But, do you know what is awesome? You have talent! Every day, every year, and it doesn't depend on trumped up celebrity.

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  27. Oh yes, it irks me when reality stars have a book out. Ugh.

    And I so watch the Real Housewives. It's a guilty pleasure.

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  28. Amen, Stephanie. The publishing industry is so hard up for money they'll give multi-million dollar book deals to any loser with a big media following.

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  29. Just stopped by to say 'hey'. Have a good evening, Steph.

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  30. I don't understand the whole how ghostwriting thing works, but that doesn't seem right that you can put your name on a book you did not write. Maybe it's stated somewhere inside the book that someone else 'wrote' it. But still, isn't that called plagiarism? I guess it's okay if you have the writers consent and it's in the publishing business? Probably happens more than we realize.

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  31. I'm not really interested in reading these books, but I recently learned that the president of one decent size corporation has two "staff writers" that take care of correspondence, speeches along with articles for their boss... it sounds like a good 9-5 job!

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  32. Wooo! I got riled up there for a hot second. I'm so glad you posted this. I have long felt similarly about these reality stars, or other TV stars that get six-figure+ deals and have no "respect" over the craft because guess what? They didn't actually sit down and WRITE their work! :) (smiling while breathing rapidly through my nose)

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  33. It amazes me that some of those Reality TV stars think they are actually actresses and now they claim to be writers? Nope.

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  34. I am with you Stephanie... I am in shock that anyone would say it was easy to write a book and that it was like writing a long email... I am not a writer per say like you and many others who write for a living ... but even I know it's not simple. I can't handle reality shows and reading any of their books would be highly boring xox

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  35. Like writing a long email? Um...no, ma'am. I can't believe anyone would say that. Just goes to show you that having any sort of platform trumps studying the craft of writing and actually being good at it. As long as someone's name can sell a book, some publisher's don't give a hoot about talent. Sad.

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