I consider myself an expert on the subject of celebrity memoirs (particularly audio books). For several years I reviewed audiobooks for EMusic for $100 per review. I quickly learned that the easiest money came in the form of celebrity memoir, so for work I listened to books by Keith Richards, Rob Lowe, Simon Pegg, Rachel Dratch, Kristen Johnson, Steven Tyler and Mindy Kaling, Dick Van Dyke and more. (Nowadays I have to pay for the privilege.) I have found that when done right, a celebrity memoir is a delightful treat and when done poorly it feels like a sloppy cynical cash grab.
Here are some tips for celebrities considering writing their own memoir/book of essays on how to do it right.
- If you are a famous lady celebrity, do not start the book off with a segment on how hard or weird it is that you are writing a book. First of all, it's not that weird. A lot of us at least try to write them, for free, and we don't even have a salary from a TV show to support us. And honestly, it's not that hard, either. If you are so desperate to fill 500 words to meet your publisher's minimum length, start by listing celebrities you've met and what they were like because that's all anybody wants to hear.
- You absolutely have to read your own audiobook (unless you are Artie Lange and suffer some personal crises during the course of writing/narrating your book.) IDo not find someone who sounds sort of like you, because it will be very disconcerting, Steven Tyler.
- Do not use footnotes to be funny. This is a comedy crutch that is overused.*
- Are you old enough to be writing this book? Dick Van Dyke, Phil Collins and Keith Richards all have a lot to say, whereas books by younger folk like Joel McHale or Olivia Munn come off like a fun idea that runs out of steam simply because the authors are still too young to have enough material to merit a full book and so rely on half-baked comedy bits often based on an ironic idea that the celebrity in question is so rich and famous or is so normal you can't believe s/he's rich and famous.
- Do not call the reader Reader to be funny or folksy. Reader does not like that.
- Do not hold out on the celebrity anecdotes. Part of the reason Rob Lowe's was so good is that they were chock full of them. "And that little girl grew up to be Janet Jackson!" If somebody who is now famous taught you drama in high school you are a disappointing author if you hold out on that story.
- Feel free to speed through the details of the inner workings of your pre-fame comedy troupe.
- If you are a very pretty actress lady, use a critical ear when writing about how you are just a regular disgusting garbage monster like all other women, or how at your fattest pregnancy weight you tipped the scales at the exact weight I weigh right now.
- Be sparing in quoting your own song lyrics.
- Include specific instructions for audiobook listeners on how to access the amazing photos they are missing by not getting the hard copy, because in the end that's all we want.
- Try to come up with some sort of ending for your humor essays instead of just leaving off at the place where you run out of material because that solution is reserved for bloggers working for free.
*except when I do it.