The next big thing

<p>If you haven't bagged a footballer, appeared on &quot;The X Factor&quot;, overcome addiction and/or horrific childhood abuse what can a debut author do to get their big break? When Katie Price outsells the entire Man Booker list, no wonder some publishers are passing on risky new talent in favour of books written by people who don't normally write&mdash;for people who don't normally read.<br />
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I heard from a humour writer this week that her first book is being passed over by publishers because she's not a &lsquo;name'.&nbsp; She's thinking of applying for &quot;Big Brother&quot;.&nbsp; The story arc of Jade Goody's life from reality TV &quot;escape goat&quot; to tragic national treasure reaches its conclusion with the news that HarperCollins will publish her diaries posthumously, the latest proof of our fragmented society's enduring obsession with celebrities.&nbsp; <br />
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It's easy to see why books like this secure big deals. Everyone wants books that fly off the shelves from the first week. With the massive market share of Tesco and Asda no wonder the shelf life of a new book is said to be &quot;longer than milk, shorter than yogurt&quot;.</p>
<p>Publishing is a business, but when you have wanted to be a writer since childhood, comments such as &quot;I haven't read a book in my life&quot; from authoress Victoria Beckham are laughable. So much for the &quot;death of the author&quot;&mdash;Brand Beckham sells everything from books to underpants, but to the average author the idea of positioning yourself as a &quot;brand&quot; is challenging. How interesting is someone who spends a lot of time alone, reading and writing? Heather Mills' story about a model whose marriage to a rock star disintegrates is being sold as a work of fiction but you sense she may have found inspiration close to home.&nbsp; Most writers have to rely on their imagination and our daily work looks dull and repetitive. Is it any wonder that when the young son of a well-known author was asked what his mummy did, he had to think for a moment before replying: &quot;I know! She's a typist!&quot;.<br />
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As a debut author you can only hope profits from celebrity books allow publishers to take a chance on the next big thing. Perhaps new readers are encouraged to try other &quot;real&quot; authors once they have experimented with books which are essentially part of an overall merchandising package. Maybe we can even learn a thing or two from the celebs&mdash;we may not be able to get Max Clifford, but increasingly new authors are deciding to hire their own publicists with a percentage of their advances.</p>