For Celebrity Memoirs, Salacious Sells
Ashley Judd”s new memoir contains all the hallmarks of a celebrity bestseller-sex abuse, drug abuse and child abuse in the form of neglect by her famous parents, Naomi Judd and Michael Ciminella.
It”s become a formulaic business model, these celebrity spill-all memoirs, each more salacious than the last. The dirtier and the grittier, the better they often sell.
Back in the day, the celebrity memoir was more of a piece of fluff, that revealed just enough about a star to make the audience feel like they were privy to the inner lives of the rich and famous. Still the really dirty stuff, the real skeletons, typically remained deep in the closet until a celeb died. Today, with a schizophrenic news cycle offering mere minutes of coverage to a celebrity at a time, celebrities feel compelled to lay bare their deepest and darkest secrets to both get attention and to sell books.
A publisher who ponies up the the seven figure advances for a celebrity tell-all absolutely demands the dirt.
“Did you use drugs Did your parents beat you Did you have sex with multiple partners” are all questions routinely asked by publishing houses as they determine how many zeroes to add onto a celebrity author”s advance check.
For a one million dollar advance to be worthwhile, a book has to sell around a quarter of a million copies.
Recent celeb memoirs that proved worth their multi-million price tags include MacKenzie Phillips” “High on Arrival,” where she claimed to have sex with her own father, Andre Agassi”s “Open,” where he revealed his use of crystal meth and Kendra Wilkinson”s “Sliding Into Home,” which included drugs (lots of meth), suicidal tendencies and self-mutilation.
The naughtier the book, the more publicity it will generate and the better it will sell. “Will it make Oprah cry” and “Can you promise to cry on “Oprah”" are two other questions book sellers want to know before they sign on the dotted line and offer up large checks.
For a celebrity, the memoir is essentially an ATM. They are assigned a “co-author” and they dictate their lives. It”s low investment and high return. They pay only in secrets.
The boom in celebrity books will no doubt continue to grow, but the claims in them need to maintain their indignities. Once the celeb memoir goes clean, the bubble for the books is sure to burst, taking with it the promise of easy money.Follow Jo on Twitter