Most people know Bethenny Frankel as the Bravo reality star who never shies away from a catfight on The Real Housewives of New York. She even televised her wedding to Jason Hoppy on Bethenny Ever After. Many more are familiar with her wide variety of SkinnyGirl cocktails, which sold for more than $100 million last year.
One thing not usually associated with the wise but vulnerable Frankel is a writing habit, but the 41-year-old is a successful author. Her three books, Naturally Thin, The SkinnyGirl Dish and A Place of Yes, have all been on The New York Times Best-Seller List for as long as 18 weeks.
This weekend, Frankel will join talk show hosts, reality stars and actors to discuss their latest literary endeavors at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
In a period when the publishing business is in near-constant flux, there seem to be only two certainties in the ever-shifting industry: Hollywood’s rich and famous love writing books in every genre, and consumers can’t stop reading them.
Need a book to read to your children before bedtime? Mary Poppins herself, The Sound of Music actress Julie Andrews, has just released a short story called The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl, which Andrews will read Sunday.
Molly Shannon, the same woman who played Catholic school student Mary Katherine Gallagher on Saturday Night Live, has chosen to write for children with her book Tilly the Trickster, which she will also read Saturday.
Other celebrities are taking advantage of their role in pop culture to sell books.
Known for her judging skills on Top Chef, Gail Simmons has chosen to step out of the kitchen to write her memoir Talking With My Mouth Full.
Tori Spelling thinks she can advise you on hosting parties with her fifth book CelebraTORI: Unleashing Your Inner Party Planner to Entertain Friends and Family.
And, Cheryl Burke wants to share her story on how Dancing With The Stars changed her life with her memoir Dancing Lessons: How I Found Passion and Potential on the Dance Floor and in Life.
Some might argue that many of these authors should stick to their day job and don’t deserve to have their name appear on the cover of a book, an achievement that can take years — if it happens at all — for smaller-name writers to reach. In addition, all these books will likely receive prime locations at your favorite bookstore while lesser-known authors will be pushed aside.
The reality is that most celebrities have an established brand as well as a platform — a reality show or magazine coverage, for instance — to reach potential readers that other authors don’t have. Celebrity-penned books tend to create buzz and, as a result, sell.
Fans fell in love with Frankel’s life story beginning with The Real Housewives. An unmarried woman struggling to pay rent and barely communicating with her family became a business success overnight, found love and started a family with the birth of her baby girl, Bryn. The star opened up to the cameras, and her story resonated with many viewers. As a result, fans wanted more; they got it with her books.
Through Facebook, Twitter and talk shows, Frankel has been able to reach even more consumers and sell hundreds of thousands of books. The same fan base that made her first three books best-sellers will also likely be curious to read her new novel SkinnyDipping.
Frankel isn’t the only star to find success through writing. Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, Chelsea Handler, Betty White and Steven Tyler have all written best-selling books that give readers a fresh perspective on their favorite celebrity.
Not every celebrity with authorial aspirations, however, has met with success. Jersey Shore stars Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino experienced meager sales along with Real Housewives Jill Zarin and NeNe Leakes.
Releases from mother of eight Kate Gosselin and The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg also failed to garner significant attention from readers.
In a 24/7 celebrity gossip culture however, fans feel a stronger connection to their favorite celebrities than ever before. Between an entertaining morning interview with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on Today, to an exclusive book excerpt in People Magazine, to an in-person signing event at the Grove, it has never been easier for celebrities to share their projects with the masses. For consumers, connecting and communicating with the authors isn’t too difficult either — particularly in urban centers like Los Angeles.
Just wait until this summer. Andy Cohen, Ryan O’Neal, Billy Bob Thorton and Joan Rivers all have planned to release new titles, just in time to be carried along as beach reading. You can count on most — if not all — of these stars to add “best-selling author” to their résumé in no time at all.