Pop culture influences much of the world today, from what we wear to what we watch to what we read. Prior to my journey inside the publishing industry I have always been curious about two questions. 1. Who writes books for celebrities? 2. Why are books by celebrities published? My curiosity sparked at a young age when seeing some of the wildest characters on reality TV shows turn into humble and noble authors with bestselling books. These same celebrities we watch on TV have lives that seem to be so occupied with drama, business ventures, bad grammar, fashion shows, shopping trips, and traveling across the country that you have no choice but to wonder when, if ever, do they find the time to write a 200–300 page novel?
The answer to my first question became quite obvious when celebrities began receiving criticism for not acknowledging their co-writers, often known as ghost writers. Many feel entitled to the book because the storyline, plot, and characters were attributed to their own minds and not the minds of the co-writers.
However, the second question still remained complicated to answer. Celebrities are encouraged to sign book deals ultimately because it extends their brand into areas such as movies or television shows. These books entice readers by assuring them that there will be new secrets that have never been revealed by the author—not on TV, not in an interview, and sometimes not even to friends or family members. This is what keeps radio personalities, talk show hosts, critics, celebrity gossip blogs, and mainstream media interested in reading these books. It is also one of the strategies publishers seem to use to market and promote said books. Although the average reader does not pay attention to the publishing company responsible for the finished product, those in the publishing industry are paying very close attention.
Publishing companies can argue that they want to adhere to a variety of taste, they can say that everyone deserves a chance to tell their story, or that the book is truly amazing and one of a kind. Still, I can’t help but to ask if the publishing industry, like many others, is being more influenced by pop culture than it is being an influencer? All publishing companies, no matter the genre of books, are influencers. They influence by the way they market, edit, design, publicize, and sell their books. The books published are a reflection of what the publishing company finds valuable, sellable, and most importantly, readable.
Yes, people still read, and that is why publishers need to remain influencers. They have the power to provide rich, imaginative, exciting, thrilling, and genuine content written by real authors who work hard to compete in the publishing industry. Most authors just want their stories to be read, and many aren’t in it for the glory or the fame. They believe in the power of their writing and the beauty of their stories. We need publishers that believe in their own power to influence pop culture instead of falling under its influence.