A bumper crop of celebrity confessions

Droitwich Advertiser: A bumper crop of celebrity confessions A bumper crop of celebrity confessions

Pop stars, comedians and elder statesmen of fame, including Rod Stewart, Cheryl Cole, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Walliams and Miranda Hart, are all contributing to a rich harvest of celebrity memoirs this autumn. Hannah Stephenson talks to experts about the memoir market and selects some of the predicted hits of 2012.

 

It's going to be a bumper season for the celebrity autobiography, as a bevy of big names from Cheryl Cole and Rod Stewart to Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Walliams and Miranda Hart roll out their life stories.

After 2011, which saw a 44% drop in autobiography sales according to Nielsen BookScan, publishers are confident that the raft of celebrity memoirs will send gift-hunters scuttling to the tills.

Publisher Simon & Schuster's executive director Kerr MacRae told trade publication The Bookseller that he is "extremely confident" that the market will bounce back this year.

"I think that last year's drop was to do with the quality of the offering across publishing. This year is much stronger.

"We certainly feel that three of our lead books - Alfie Boe, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pamela Stephenson - offer three very different things: an amazing singer, a big international superstar and a more literary offering from Pamela."

The big push comes on October 11, when many of the memoirs are published, including those of Will Young, Cheryl Cole, Tulisa Contostavlos, Paul O'Grady, Pete Townshend, Stewart, Walliams, Hart and Schwarzenegger.

Earlier in the season there will be offerings from actress and Loose Women star Denise Welch, Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli and actor Rupert Everett. Later in October will see the publication of memoirs from Kerry Katona and Danny Baker, while even Uggie, the canine star of the film The Artist, makes a tongue-in-cheek appearance in print on his own rise to fame.

Alison Barrow, Transworld executive, observes that this year's offerings broadly fall into three categories: those for younger fans, which have the feeling of an annual, including books from One Direction, Little Mix and McFly; those of older celebrities, including Stewart, Schwarzenegger and Townshend; and comedians' autobiographies, featuring memoirs from David Mitchell, Lee Mack, Walliams, O'Grady and Hart.

"With the books for the younger generation, the content doesn't have to include great big reveals, but some background stories and good pictures should sell them.

"The older celebrities will serve a different kind of market and should feature colourful and interesting stories with richer content.

"And comedians tend to do really well. Paul O'Grady's first two books did really well. His first book was the best-selling hardback in 2008, outselling Dawn French and Julie Walters and I'm predicting his third volume will also do really well. He's a great writer and has a good following."

Comedians' memoirs are quite a gamble to publishers, says Barrow, because their sales reflect the popularity and profile of the person at the time.

But sales may also reflect the quality of the celebrity memoir, she reckons.

"Underestimate the readers at your peril," she says. "If a book is well-written it will have that extra edge because of word-of-mouth and positive review coverage.

"For instance, people talked about Russell Brand's distinctive style and high quality of writing in his first memoir, My Booky Wook, which did very well."

However, with such an array of celebrity books on offer, many will be jostling for position, she agrees.

Philip Stone, charts editor of The Bookseller, predicts that Justin Bieber and Cheryl Cole could be bestsellers, but the comedians' books may not be so certain.

"Last year Lee Evans and James Cordon both had bestsellers, this year it may be David Walliams and Miranda Hart, but there's a risk if there are too many books of the same genre jostling for position."

Casualties of last year included books from Rob Brydon and Jason Manford, whose sales failed to meet expectations, although their books still sold numbers that a debut novelist would die for, Stone observes.

He says it doesn't matter from a selling point whether the books are ghost-written or not.

"Russell Brand famously wrote his memoir, which sold in huge numbers, but Sharon Osbourne didn't and that still sold well."

At the end of the day, celebrity memoirs are largely bought as gifts - here's a few which may fill Christmas stockings nationwide.


For the younger market

McFly: Unsaid Things... Our Story (Bantam, Oct 11, £18.99): The boys tell their own story, from being catapulted to stardom as teenagers, when their first album debuted at number one, to coping with their new-found fame.

Justin Bieber: Just Getting Started (HarperCollins, Sep 13, £16.99): Fans can take a peek behind the scenes in this '100% official' life on tour of the Canadian teen heart-throb.

Cheryl Cole: Official Autobiography (Harper, Oct 11, £20): The ex-X Factor judge is remaining tight-lipped about the contents of her autobiography, but will be fighting for a number one slot against current X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos, whose memoir is published the same day.

Olly Murs: Happy Days (Coronet, Oct 11, £16.99): Fans will love flicking through the many exclusive photos taken both on-stage and behind the scenes of the popular X Factor singer and TV presenter. The book also features some words from the singer himself.


Older statesmen of fame

:: Arnold Schwarzenegger: Total Recall (Simon & Schuster, Oct 1, £20): The star of the Terminator movies and ex body builder-turned governor of California recalls his life, from his childhood in Austria to becoming one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

:: Pete Townshend: Who I Am (HarperCollins, Oct 11, £20): Described as the 'thinking man's rock star', The Who's lead guitarist and songwriter reveals the turbulence of time spent in one of rock's greatest bands, the sex, the drugs, the smashing of guitars, the death of Keith Moon... and much more.

:: Rod Stewart: Rod: The Autobiography (Century, Oct 11, £20): "Forget skeletons in the closet - this one's going to be socks and knickers under the bed." So says the spiky-haired, football-mad pop icon, who has finally put his adventures on paper, taking a candid and funny look at his 50 years in music, his three marriages and eight children. It won't be dull.


Comedian confessions

:: Miranda Hart: Is It Just Me? (Hodder, Oct 11, £19.99) The award-winning comedy actress and midwife reveals her own awkward experiences while she was growing up and offers herself advice on her many gaffes and difficult situations. This could be one of the bigger sellers from this year's comedy offerings.

:: David Walliams: Camp David (Michael Joseph, Oct 11, £20): The Little Britain star, children's author and fund-raising swimmer remains an enigma despite being such a high-profile figure. Often described as 'a bundle of contradictions', he has disarmed people by being camp and a lady-killer, a hedonist and a sportsman. Let's hope this book makes him slightly less of a mystery.

:: Paul O'Grady: Still Standing - My Savage Years (Bantam, Oct 11, £20): The third volume of the comedian's hugely successful memoirs sees the creation of blonde bomb-site Lily Savage, the early years on stage, the journey to stardom and the hilarious misadventures along the way. If it's as well-written as the previous two, it should be a bestseller.


Best of the rest

:: Pamela Stephenson: The Varnished Untruth (Simon & Schuster, Sep 13, £18.99): The former comedian-turned-psychologist recalls her complicated childhood in Australia, a bold move to London, Not The Nine O'Clock News, becoming Mrs Billy Connolly and beyond.

:: Will Young: Funny Peculiar: The Autobiography (Sphere, Oct 11, £18.99): In this memoir which he has written himself, the pop star who shot to fame on Pop Idol in 2001 recalls the highs and lows of his life and career, from coming out in the glare of the media spotlight to his struggles against depression.

:: Antonio Carluccio: A Recipe For Life (Hardie Grant, Oct 8, £20) The Italian cook recounts the early years, from his humble beginnings on the Amalfi coast to his first experience cooking simple suppers on a two-ring stove, followed by his unplanned rise to fame as a restaurateur, writer and TV presenter.

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