Writing is a competitive, cut-throat industry, where only the best – or the most well-publicized – succeed. Putting your name to a piece – whether fiction or nonfiction – is a lasting legacy, for better or worse. With the emerging world of self-publishing, though, there are more writers than ever diffusing their work worldwide, but writers still struggle to get known in the notoriously saturated market of literary publishing. But if you’re a celebrity, it seems that you’re already a shoe-in for getting picked up by a major publisher. A celebrity already has a pre-existing audience, and many of these fans will doubtless buy the book to learn more about their favorite celebrity. Even ‘trolls’ and ‘haters’ might shell out the cash for a celebrity’s book, simply out of curiosity or morbid fascination. If a celebrity can actually write a good story or can coherently retell important events in their life in an interesting manner – even better!
If you’re a celebrity who wants to be a writer, you’re bound to have more opportunities than the average unknown writer. As a celebrity, you may even employ a ghost writer, or a co-author – or pay the best editors in the industry to make your manuscript look the best it can be. Even if you’re Lauren Conrad, Kate Gosselin, or a Kardashian, you can ‘write’ a book and have it become a New York Times bestseller. Indeed, some readers might be surprised at who has apparently authored and published a book: It may be either depressing or motivating to learn that Nicole Richie and Snooki are published authors: Just as these celebrities affix their name to perfumes, clothes lines, and countless other products, so they emblazon their names on book covers.
So now, for your consideration, a list of some of the very richest celebrities who branched out into the publishing world. Some of these stars have had remarkable success as recognized authors – and some have flopped spectacularly. It’s worth noting, of course, that the bulk of these celebs’ net worth certainly didn’t come from their literary endeavors…
10. James Franco – $22 Million
James Franco seems is a celebrity who wears many hats, from art to acting to academia to writing. Instead of penning something explicitly autobiographical like most of the celeb ‘authors’ on our list, Franco started his writing career with a book about the little suburb where he grew up in a book called, Palo Alto. The book is a collection of stories about a group of teenagers and their struggles with friends, families, schools, and just living life in general. Written in an ominous voice, Franco’s book received average ratings – not spectacular, but enough to maintain his street cred among the literati. If you want to catch a different side to the Hollywood star, this book seems to be a good start. Since 2011, Franco has published six more titles.
9. Chelsea Handler – $25 Million
Comedian Chelsea Handler is quite the accomplished author with bestsellers sprinkled among her 5 published works, with a sixth book to be released this March called Uganda Be Kidding Me. Her best-known bestseller, My Horizontal Life, is a collection of her stand up acts and has received very positive reviews from critics and readers alike. Given her wide audience from her television programming and appearances among different networks, Handler is able to get her books a lot of exposure, which is likely why her books are bestsellers along with entertaining writing.
8. Stephen Colbert – $45 Million
Stephen Colbert is best known for his political satire on Comedy Central, but he is also a very accomplished book author and comic book writer. The Emmy nominated television host has written three books, with his first being published in 2009 and the other two published in 2012. But his start was in 2003 with his picture novel, Wigfield: The Can Do Town That Just May Not, which was a satirical piece. Colbert’s first book, I Am America (And So Can You!) was a fictionalized account of Colbert’s life story as the host of the Colbert Report.
7. Tina Fey – $45 Million
2013 marked the year that Tina Fey published her first book, Bossypants. The book is her autobiography and provides a comedic (of course) account of life growing up in Pennsylvania and breaking into Hollywood. If you’re an avid follower of Fey’s career, you can read the book to find out her thoughts and experiences as she juggled her family, personal life, and her career. The book is a written representation of Fey’s unique trademark humour; she shares her opinion on breastfeeding and honeymoons, as well as giving inside perspective of her time on “30 Rock” and rehearsing her Sarah Palin impression.
6. Jon Stewart – $80 Million
Jon Stewart is the host of “The Daily Show”, a satirical news program that also airs on Comedy Central along with “The Colbert Report”. Stewart is regarded as one of the most relevant voices today when it comes to not only comedy, but politics. His publishing debut was in 1998 with his book Naked Pictures of Famous People which is about…well, you can guess. Actually, don’t get too excited; it’s not full of pictures of naked celebrities, but instead a collection of essays about politics and “naked truths” about pop culture, all written in a comedic tone. Stewart also published two more books in 2006 and 2010 respectively.
5. Tyra Banks – $90 Million
Perhaps this is where the face palming might start. Yes, Tyra Banks is a New York Times bestselling author with her book, Modelland, aimed at young readers. The main character is named Tookie De La Crème, and the book is about Tookie diving into the world of modeling… But Modelland wasn’t Banks’ first attempt at writing. In 1998, she published a book called Tyra’s Beauty Inside & Out, which had a far better critical reception than Modelland but not as much commerical success. There’s no doubt that Banks will probably continue to write and publish more books in the future, but given her diversity in genres, it’s hard to predict what will come next.
4. Paris Hilton – $100 Million
Yep, you’re reading this right. Paris Hilton is a published author. Her book, Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose, is now a bargain book and seems to be out of print. The book received terrible reviews, failing in its mission to give the world a different perspective of how the media portrays her. It’s less than 200 pages and has lots of pictures and, perhaps unsurprisingly, wasn’t enough to please critics and readers. We imagine that Hilton didn’t really feel the financial failure of the book: Perhaps she wasn’t even very deeply involved in writing the book at all, as there’s been speculation that it was penned by a ghostwriter.
3. Justin Bieber – $130 Million
Another celebrity-turned-author is the drag racing wannabe bad boy, Justin Bieber. Believe it or not, he’s written not just one, not two, but three books in his career. His first book, Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever, was published in 2010, his second book Never Say Never was published in 2011, and his third and most recent book Justin Bieber: Just Getting Started, was published in 2012. With Bieber’s legion of fans known as “beliebers”, there’s no doubt that these books sold well on an international scale. Given the recent events of his life, we’ll probably see more books from him in the future so the world can know his side. Again, as with many of the busy celebs on the top of the list, unconfirmed speculation is rife that Bieber didn’t really put pen to paper here himself but may have a prolific ghost writer.
2. Miley Cyrus – $150 Million
Before she cut her hair and started sticking out her tongue, before she started twerking, before she shed her clothes for “Wrecking Ball”, Miley was best known as Hannah Montana and the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus. In 2009, while she was still with Disney, Cyrus penned her very own autobiography geared towards her “Hannah Montana” fan base called Miles To Go. Believe it or not, the book got surprisingly positive reviews from critics and readers. Given her new style and turn in her career, people seem to be gravitating towards this book to get a glimpse of Miley before she shed her Disney persona. The book is out of print now, but you can still get it at bargain bookstores and on Kindle.
1. Madonna – $650 Million
Madonna is probably one of the most iconic celebrities of our generation. We all know Madonna has earned her place in the entertainment industry as one of the most successful female singers and actresses, but what you might not know is that she published her first book in 1992, which was a coffee table book entitled, SEX. In 2003, she published her first children’s book called, The English Roses – it was as one of the most successful picture books in Britain, coming in second to Harry Potter. Since her first book, Madonna has written four more, bringing her children’s book list to a grand total of five so far.