Is nothing sacred? Type into google “who said ‘always have a sun tan’” and the first entry on the page will quote me. It’s true I said it, but I wasn’t the first. And I have forgotten the name of the Hollywood actor who really did say it long before me, but I still remember his curiously orange face. So my congratulations to whoever first described Celebrity Authors’ Secrets as “Chicken Soup for Writers”, it’s a great hook and an apt tag line for this unique collection of author secrets.
In any walk of life it seems there are successful people who have their sure fire tip for being successful, (my own personal favourite ‘be nice to your boss’, which is why I try and keep my wife happy.) So, anyway, you can now imagine why I was fascinated to read Stephanie Hale’s book about celebrity authors and what makes them successful. And we do indeed learn from Ms Hale that authors are no different, they all have an anecdote to share about the secret to their success. But if there are any aspiring authors out there looking for a silver bullet, be warned, the consistent message from this book is that the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary (I’m not the first person to say that but as soon as I’ve finished this post I’m going on google and…)
While people will buy a book because a famous author wrote it, all the famous authors in this book have had to do the heavy lifting to reach their summit. Take Jeffrey Archer for example. From modest beginnings and despite not taking up a pen till his mid-thirties, he’s sold more than 270 million books in 97 countries and 37 languages (we learn from Hale’s book). He is phenomenally disciplined, rises early, and writes every day.
But hard work alone doesn’t make you successful, which is why my father’s will was not eagerly anticipated. And as I sometimes say to the know it all’s that cross my path with unsolicited advice, “if you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” (like Jeffrey Archer.)
So, the secret to celebrity authors is working hard and doing something smart, or lots of things smart, until you’re so rich and successful like Jeffrey that you can pay other people to do all the smart things you cant be bothered to get off your butt to do yourself. Here’s seven insightful and inspiring celebrity author snippets you’ll learn from reading this book:
- Writing a book is only half the work, next you must get it out to the world
- If one is ever to copy anything – then copy success
- I sit and think: who is this person and why are they interesting enough to be written about
- I put myself in the position of the narrator or the hero
- When the reader gets to the end of a chapter, they have to curse you
- Non-fiction is an enthusiastic conversation on paper
- Keep working until you get a book everybody wants to give to their friends
So, what do you get here? Through the medium of author interviews, the book looks at all stages of the process, starting prior to inspiration, through the ordeal of the first draft, from there to polishing it for publisher and public, until one’s work has the shine of an engagement ring. But that’s just the start: the book also provides a string of invaluable and practical tips on the best use of bookshops, social media, radio, and TV to drive sales forward. In short it is a primer not only on how to radically improve one’s success, but also how to transform the painful bits of writing into a joy.
This book should be essential reading for anyone interested in becoming a storyteller (as Archer points out, there are many great writers out there, but few great storytellers), and also to anyone interested in why writers write.