Should I Contribute To This Celebrity’s Book?

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Angela,

I’m curious. What happens to the unpaid (except in signed copies of the book) contributors when a well-known celebrity publishes a book with the stories and “wisdom” from ordinary writer folk? Do the ordinary folk get any publicity or press in the ensuing publicity tour? Does it hurt/help a writer to have their selections published in someone else’s best seller? I’ve been selected to have a story I wrote published in a celebrity’s book and folks are asking ME what happens and I have to say, I honestly don’t know! Can you clue me in?

Thanks!

Sometimes, celebrities accept a publisher’s offer to put their name on a book. Even if they won’t be doing any work, they’ll earn money just by lending their name to the project. (How many celebs do you think REALLY write their own books? Most hire ghostwriters!) Some of these books, like the one you’re describing, aren’t written by celebrities at all, but are actually anthologies (collections of other people’s essays).

Unless you have a product or service that will be of great interest to the readers of that book, you probably won’t get much, if any, benefit from contributing. And, if you want a decent byline and a nice blurb for your product/service, good luck! Publishers will likely just move onto the next writer who’s willing to do the work for free and with no strings attached.

I never advocate writing for free, especially on a project like this, where it’s obvious that the people doing the work aren’t getting paid and the publisher and celebrity (who have successfully acquired all this free content) will be making the money, but not sharing the wealth with the contributors.