Some of our best childhood memories are the ones being read our favorite stories. Little Critter, Henry and Mudge, Franklin, The Berenstain Bears, and more.
Children’s books are powerful enough to capture a child’s curious mind and wandering eyes with brightly colored illustrations. Slipped right into the themes are messages that even adults can learn from too.
Being an author of children’s books can be the most exciting age to write for. And it’s even better when the writer has kids of their own.
Celebrity parents are the type of family role models new and seasoned mothers like to latch onto and follow. They hope to not feel alone in a job that sparks the constant question, “Am I doing this right?” The connection is meant for mothers to soak up a celebrity’s parental advice, tips, and at times, tricks. Kind of like the perfect recipes that includes hidden vegetables.
Beyond social media, we ordinary folks can ‘connect’ and feel close to these parents through their publications. Hollywood parents, Jimmy Fallon, Hoda Kotb, and Kelly Clarkson are just naming a few.
Jimmy Fallon is the father of two children. Hoda Kotb, on the other hand, adopted her one and only daughter. Kelly Clarkson, like Fallon, is also a mother of two.
As children book authors, these stars are inspired by their tiny tots and can dedicate a unique piece of work to them.
As an avid reader and pop culture follower, I become eager and excited for celebrity books to be released. Especially picture stories as the more that land in stores, the more options children have to find the stories they enjoy the most, encouraging them to read more often. I believe kids should be exposed to reading at the earliest age possible, showing them the power that words and books both hold. Kids have so much to learn from words scrawled across pages.
On the flip-side, as a writer and *fingers crossed* future published author, I worry. Why?
We live in an incredibly fast-paced world where name brands are everything. We love name brands and we love being able to tell people that we shop at those places, whether that be verbally or silently, as we flaunt around the product from our hands or shoulders, such as an Apple iPhone or Michael Kors bag. I, myself, am guilty of continually being drawn to the more expensive and luxury item. It is the way in which we are wired. It’s merely human nature.
Running with the same name brand scenario, if you place a Michael Kors bag beside a cheaper purse with less flashy accents and a color that isn’t the brightest, how many people would go for that less pricey bag? Would some people purchase it? Absolutely. But would the amount compare to the purchase of the Kors purse? Most likely not. For smaller companies trying to emerge and new brands to make themselves just as known and prominent, it can be an everyday struggle not to be turned down just because of that hovering name brand.
In comparison, if a dedicated writer works nonstop on a book for years and decides to publish their first story, the attention it is likely to receive is minimal. An unknown writer is likely not to earn themselves much attention. This is a sad and unfortunate reality.
However, celebrities are kind of like name brands. Have a celebrity write a book, slap their name on the cover and before you know it they are climbing all the best book lists. In a sense, we should be proud and excited for our writing friends. In the opposite sense, it is hard to be happy when another ‘writer’ is being handed a book deal just because they are famous.
Why does it seem like I’m targeting children’s book writers?
If you haven’t heard about the cloud of attention Hoda Kotb received on her published gem, I’ve Loved You Since Forever, you might as well be living beneath a rock or had skipped out on television and social media for the entire week of its release.
Before I continue, I want to explicitly state that I am not harshly targeting Hoda Kotb as I think the idea and message that her book holds is a beautiful thing. I am beyond happy that she was able to adopt her own child after years of struggling, that surely felt like an eternity. I am a fan of her and enjoy watching her on the Today Show each morning. I am just expressing the struggles and worries I face as a writer and the ease famous people likely have in this particular situation.
For the entire week of the story’s release, it was a topic the Today Show was repeating throughout the morning. It was a reminder for viewers to go buy the book. The same video of Kotb talking about the book and what her adopted daughter means to her was always on repeat. She even landed herself an interview slot on Nightly News. The story also earned itself a studio recording by Kelly Clarkson where she sang its words.
The issue? If my name or any other name of a beginning author were on that same copy, television networks would never advertise and promote the book to the same extent. Singers would also not book studio time to turn the words into a tune. It just would not happen.
While I am happy for Kotb as the book is dedicated and inspired by her adorable adopted daughter, I feel torn. I want new writers to feel as if they have a spot and chance in the publishing industry. I don’t want celebrity books that might not be as good as our books to overshadow other work. An art related industry is hard and challenging enough to rise to the top or even be remotely close to that number one position.
At the same time, us writers must remember one thing. We must keep in mind to be resilient and be aggressive. We must push the novels and stories in which we believe are worthy and valuable enough to be sold anywhere in the world.
Just think, if J.K. Rowling accepted the constant turn down she received, her fantasy and magic in which she created for millions of people would have never come to life. It simply would not exist. This shows the amount of dedication writers need. Being a quote-on-quote no-name makes everything harder. Not entirely impossible just more intense.
In the end, as a passionate and committed writer, I want to know that there is space for me in the publication world. I want the writers who write all the time and wish for nothing more than to gain readers, to believe that their books can be just as good if not better than a celebrity’s work.
When all else fails, we must hold onto our own words. We must protect our craft and emphasize the importance of books and art.