Thursday, June 18, 2009

Celebrity Memoirs

“The celebrity is a person who is known for his well-knownness.” – Daniel J. Boorstin

I obviously have a fascination with book titles. My post, Choosing a Book Title, was about 10 great novels with terrible original titles; and the post, Picking a Winner, listed 10 of the funniest book titles. When I ran across 14 Awful Titles of Celeb Memoirs in Entertainment Weekly, I couldn’t pass it up.

In all honesty, I didn’t know who a couple of the celebrities were and I wasn’t interested enough to investigate further, so I can’t comment on all the titles. Also, I didn’t find all 14 titles awful. For instance, I think Lettin it all Hang Out by Ru Paul is funny and that Jerry Seinfeld’s, SeinLanguage is clever.

I’m not sure anyone born in 1992 needed to write a memoir, but Miley Cyrus has Miles to Go. That might be a witty play on words if her birth name wasn’t Destiny Hope.

I do think a few titles were a bit hokey. Melissa Gilbert of Little House on the Prairie fame has a memoir titled Prairie Tale; then there’s sTori Telling by Tori Spelling; Don’t Hassel the Hoff: The Autobiography of David Hasselhoff; and, Roger Moore’s, My Word is My Bond.

At BookGuide I found a list of the Top Ten Celebrity Memoirs that have stood the test of time. The list was taken from the April 30, 2009, issue of People magazine. I bring this up because I couldn’t help but notice the older memoirs don’t have the cutesy names. For example, Eric Clapton’s is simply titled Clapton: The Autobiography; Katharine Hepburn’s memoir is Me; Bob Dylan’s is Chronicles; Julia Child’s is My Life in France.

Does this mean that in today’s book market being a celebrity is no longer a guarantee that a book will sell by the thousands? Is it now the title that grabs the attention of the buyer and not the celebrity shown on the cover? Do you know of other memoir titles that should be included on either of these lists?

Thanks for dropping by.

Tags: Boorstin, Seinfeld, Ru Paul, People Magazine, Hepburn, Tags: Clapton, Dylan, Julia Child, celebrity memoirs


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I know when I was trying to get a traditional pub to take my first book, a memoir, they all said they didn't take memoir submissions unless you were already a celebrity or famous for some other reason.

The Old Silly From Free Spirit Blog

Alexis Grant said...

This post was not only interesting, but helpful for me as I brainstorm my own title... Also going to check out a few of the other posts you linked to here. Thanks!

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Hmmm. Well, I kinda like both the “old school” names and the more recent clever stuff. To dissent just a bit, I think, “My Word is My Bond” is kinda cute…but then, it’s well known I have no taste. Who was it that called puns the lowest form of humor? Title games are surely a first cousin to puns.

Best Regards, Galen

Karen Walker said...

These are quite interesting. I liked Jane Fonda's "The Third Act" (at least I think that's the title - I'm away from my bookshelves).
Karen Walker

Helen Ginger said...

Can't think of any celebrity memoir titles. Probably because I don't read them. But I think you may have hit on something. Back in the day, the celebrities were actually celebrities. Everyone knew who Katharine Hepburn was. Today's "celebrities" are not known so they need a funny/catchy/provocative title to attract the buyer.

Straight From Hel

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I think most celebrity memoirs are a 'throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks' venture.
I think it's sad big publishers focus so much on celebrities, so desperate to cash in on anything. Most of those memoirs are "Who cares?" in my book.

And I kinda liked the Bond title, too.

L. Diane Wolfe

Bob Sanchez said...

One of my all-time favorite lousy titles is John Madden's "Hey Wait a Minute. I Wrote a Book!" You can still get copies for as little as $0.01 on Amazon.

Bob Sanchez

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world