(From The Beach Reporter on 12/3/92.)
These are the times that try an author’s soul. To know that Madonna’s book is a number-one bestseller, right next to Rush Limbaugh’s, which I guess is supposed to even things out. To know that Kathie Lee Gifford has written her autobiography and that people actually want to read it. I can think of at least 100 things I would rather do before I read the autobiography of Kathie Lee Gifford. Things like hand wash or ironing pillowcases, filing my nails and plucking my eyebrows.
But all of these “authors” pale in comparison to the newest celebrity author on the block – Fabio. In case you don’t know who Fabio is, he is the hunk-of-the-year, now turned novelist.
Fabio is not just some dumb gorgeous guy who wandered into the U. S. via Milan. He is savvy enough to go by only one name, in the tradition of Madonna and Cher. His claim to fame up to now is his modeling career. His image has graced the covers of more than 350 Avon romance novels. He has his own beefcake calendar.
Now he is a novelist. Not satisfied with merely adorning the covers of books, Fabio now plans to write a few. Naturally, because he is so very Fabio, he landed a six-figure contract up front to write three books.
These kinds of reports make plain, old ordinary writers like myself, who grind it out daily, want to run off screaming into the sunset.
Not that I begrudge Fabio any success on his sure-to-be-priceless prose. It’s just that most writers I know have to achieve success the old-fashioned way. They sit and write, and sit and write, and sit and write some more. If they’re lucky, someone might see the merit in their work and choose to publish it.
Most writers spend years honing their craft, which is the shaping of words into their own vision or voice. Some spend a lifetime at it and never even get published.
Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions about Fabio’s ability to put two words together. After all, I don’t know the man. For all I know, he could be a brilliant wordsmith. Maybe he goes to the library every day.
The recent piece in Vanity Fair mentions that a few women romance novelists might be upset by the fact that Fabio so easily landed his first book contract (and most romance novelists are, indeed, women). They aren’t raking it in with a six-figure contract.
Little did they know that in order to be a successful novelist with a big advance, all they had to do was pump up their pectoral muscles and have fabulous flowing hair. And have photos taken of themselves in various weird sexual poses, put a wrapper on it and call it a book.
So here is my advice to anyone who wants to publish a book. Go to the gym and work out with a personal trainer. Wear provocative outfits and gets lots of hair (or shave your head). Draw attention to yourself by shooting someone and have a movie-of-the-week made out of it. Have plastic surgery on problem areas. Lose your last name, or your first – whichever works better.
Get on Roseanne’s TV show or Saturday Night Live. Call Howard Stern. Tell everything to everyone about your dysfunctional family, your past battle with anorexia, and how your sister killed your hamster when you were six.
Don’t get married and have children, but if you do, do it often. Don’t do anything normal or mainstream. Don’t write a column for a community newspaper. In fact – don’t write. Other people will do that for you when you are famous. Look again at the current bestseller list. These people aren’t writers – they are celebrities. And they all have ghostwriters (maybe you could be one of those).
So from now on, instead of my usual column, I will be working on a deal for a calendar “Wanna – Be Hot Housewives.” Instead of writing, I will work out all day. And please, if you see me, just call me Kathy. I’ll never make it with a last name.