Sunday, 29 January 2012

Each To Their Own

The bane of every new author struggling for recognition, apart from typing/printing errors, has got to be the celebrity author; the person who has made their name in some other field and now thinks they can write a novel or tell the world their life story, even when they are not old enough to have had an interesting life.  We all know the sort of thing I mean.  I don’t know who started it but Dick Francis certainly made the most of it when he finished racing.  Now it seems everyone from jockey to gardener, think they can write a novel and because of their celebrity status the publishers give them a chance when possibly hundreds, with better story telling abilities, are knocking at the door to be turned away with nothing more than a note saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ to show for all their hard work.

Authors take heart.  You are not the only people to suffer from this syndrome of celebrity kudos.
I am a fan of classical music.  Why, is another blog I might write one day. Suffice is to say every morning while I am waking up to the world (and that could take anything up to two hours – not all spent asleep I hasten to add) I listen to Classicfm on the radio.  Once the dog has had her first walk of my shift the house tends to stay silent. 

On my return from holiday this year I find that an honoured and respected actor has turned his hand to composing. It is reported that he has always had ambitions to be a composer; has always written music.  Now he has recorded an album of his own work with a well-known symphony orchestra.

Fine.  I have no problem with that.  What bugs me is that this album has been advertised almost every hour, every day since I returned to the UK on the 9th January (it’s now the 29th).  First as a ‘coming soon’ and then as ‘now available.’  No doubt it is flying high in the classical charts regardless of the quality of the music because it has been given so much publicity.  My heart goes out to all those young, talented musicians who are struggling to be noticed or even find a place in an orchestra, let alone get new and exciting compositions heard by the public.

A few years ago a similar thing happened when a girl band broke up and one of the members released an album of piano music.  She had been to music school and could play, a bit, but she was no Lang Lang or Stephen Hough (I would quote a Russian pianist here, as well, but can’t spell his name  well enough to even look it up!).

As a struggling author I promise, if I ever make it to the big time as a writer, I will not make my public suffer the trauma of listening to me playing the piano.  Yes, I can play – especially if it is a slow piece!  Bit I consider myself a writer not a pianist.  If I tire of one I won’t take up the other as a career.

It is not just the fact that these people, musicians and authors alike, get the chance to showcase their work but the fact that so much effort is put into promotion by the publishers or record companies.  While indie authors are busy Facebooking, Twitting and making trailers for YouTube in the hope that people will notice and buy their work, these celebrities have the full PR machine behind them, presumably at no cost to themselves.

Is there any way to thwart this ‘cashing in’ on celebrity?  I doubt it.  For my part I will not buy anything from someone trying to start a second career, especially if their first has been lucrative!  I’ve never been into biographies, so that part is easy; and now I only buy books by new authors. Maybe I’m being unfair.  But until some of my fellow independent authors are featured side by side with celebrity authors on their second career, I will remain committed to the belief - Each To Their Own. 

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