Monday, 27 March 2017


Michelle Robinson: successful
children's author and non-entity
Every time a celebrity puts their name to a children’s book, a professional author drops down dead. With celebs 'shutting us out of our trade', authors are heading toward extinction. It's hard not to feel bitter when your books aren't even stocked, let alone given their own pedestal. But sucking on sour grapes does not an attractive author make.

Chin up, chums! It's not all that bad. Besides, we ought to be flattered: the rich and famous want to be just like us. Can you blame them? We get to have 'a name' and hang around in our pyjamas all day, not being recognised in public. We'll never be considered too unfit or too wrinkly to do our jobs. Still, from where I'm sitting being rich and famous looks pretty appealing too...

How about we level the playing field and supplement our income with second jobs - as celebrities.


You've already defied all odds to make it into print despite being a complete non-entity. If you can do that, you can do anything. A monkey with a typewriter can write a bestselling picture book and you can host the Brits! You're 10 steps away from a high profile second job that's WAY better paid than the one you've been busting a gut over. Take a shortcut to fame!


Step 1: Look loaded
You'll need to speculate to accumulate. I know this is hard when regular children's authors don't make a lot of money, but if you're going to convince everyone you're worth squillions, you need to stop wearing rags. From now on, travel first class and invest in some half decent clothes. Men: buy a tailored smoking jacket, it's what Ant and Dec would do. Women: if we want to be taken seriously we’re going to have to start showing a little more flesh - no socks from now on.

Step 2: Act confident
The paparazzi won't shoot themselves - although you'll soon be wishing they would! Shoulders back, chest out. A shower wouldn’t hurt. Turn up the confidence a notch while you're at it and stop acting so grateful for having achieved your dreams. Demand the dream with a cherry on top. You’re worth it.

Step 3: Handle your own publicity
Once we’re famous we’ll have all the publicity we need - and more. Until then it’s a case of do-it-yourself. Try getting a mention on Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs or running down the high street naked. It doesn’t matter if your books don’t figure in any of this. At this stage all exposure is good exposure.

Step 4: Get 'legit'
You’re going to need a blue tick on Twitter and a squillion followers. Everyone knows you don’t necessarily come by thousands of adoring fans legitimately. Just like a top ten slot in the bestseller charts, you can simply buy a fanbase. This is not cheating; this is celebrity publishing. We’re going for quantity not quality.

Step 5: Bluff it
Nothing says ‘Paint me orange and feature me in Heat Magazine’ like wearing a huge pair of shades and a baseball cap down Lidl’s. Serendipitously you'll find these items readily available in store. Hop to it (and stop using clever, writerly words like 'serendipitously'). Note: it is acceptable to dress down when incognito, provided all loungewear is by Gucci.

Step 6: Create a stir
We can’t all be literary sensations, but we can all be sensational. Do something outrageous. It will give you material for that memoir you’ll finally have time to write in prison. Goodness knows you'll be too busy to write the rest of the time what with all those television appearances and international flights. Don't worry about your schedule; your PA will soon be organising everything for you, and you won't have to do school visits, ever again. With any luck you won't have to write anything ever again either - someone else will do it for you. You could even request a body double for all those top-billing lit fest events you'll be doing. Get in!

Step 7: Acquire a cute back story
Sales and marketing departments love 'a hook'. Those lucky old celebs have them ready made. ‘Treasure in the Attic’s Wotsisface has treasure in HIS attic with new children’s book masquerading as pile of junk’. ‘Reclusive writer's cardigan provides refuge for rare moths’ isn’t going to cut the mustard. You and I are going to have to dig a little deeper to create eye catching headlines. Consider selling your own granny. Who cares if you're disinherited? Pretty soon you're going to be MINTED.

Step 8: Get a famous partner
Remember when Jools Oliver wrote a children's book? No? Oh. Well, a celebrity author is one thing, but a celebrity author with a celebrity partner is TWO THINGS. Photoshop yourself into a compromising situation with a celeb of your choosing. Don’t worry about being sued; you can settle out of court once you’ve made your first million.

Step 9: Smile
Coffee and red wine may help with the unsociable hours writing requires, but nobody wants to see their ill effects in HD. Tooth whitening is expensive and you’ve probably blown all your cash on a butler. Thankfully you are naturally creative and have a plentiful supply of Tippex. Say cheese!

Step 10: Grow a thick skin
Don’t expect to be welcomed to all those star-studded parties* with open arms. Those celebs didn’t just suddenly become children’s authors without putting in the hours. Okay, maybe some of them did. Still, if you should happen upon some children’s authors having a moan about the amount of non-entity authors selling loads of books, smile politely and find someone sympathetic to talk to. Like Madonna.
*Orgies...? Take breath freshener.

See you on your luxury yacht, my friend!

Michelle Robinson manages the tricky balancing act of being both a successful children’s author and a total non-entity. She has seven picture books publishing in the next six months - and still no invitation to appear on Oprah!

‘Daisy Doodles’, illustrated by Irene Dickson with photography by Tom Weller, publishes with OUP in June 2017. 


Jane Clarke said...

Lol. I have not yet put on my socks, so I'm clearly already on my way to embracing Step 1.

Tamsin Cooke said...

This has made my day - I love it! And I have whipped off my socks... I am on the road to celebrity stardom!!!

Chitra Soundar said...

Fantastic! I thought I had to work hard and be funny and become a comedian sweating it out in dark, underground comedy clubs - Tippex and fake twitter followers is the best way to go!!!

Michelle Robinson said...

Good luck! You've got this!

Michelle Robinson said...

Bravo, Jane.

Michelle Robinson said...

That's the spirit.

John Shelley said...

So this is where I've been doing it wrong! Thank goodness I read this, stardom awaits!

Unknown said...

I read this whilst wearing a huge pair of shades and a baseball cap :)

Skills Michelle... skills!

Michelle Robinson said...

You are on your way to superstardom.

Michelle Robinson said...

We've all been doing it wrong. No more!

Lynne Benton said...

Brilliant! I will bear this in mind next time some celebrity "writes" another children's book - and will make a start with my dark glasses and baseball cap from Lidl!

Moira Butterfield said...

'The more the merrier' I say, when it comes to celeb books. What could happen? A) It proves to be rubbish and disappears (many, many examples here). B) Someone somewhere might give a book to a child, and perhaps that child will then ask for more, and that's good. In the meantime, I have been considering trying to get photographed somewhere near Tom Hiddleston.

Michelle Robinson said...

Absolutely, plenty of space for everyone on the shelves. And why should writing only be for some? I think it's the shortcut that causes disgruntlement - and that's probably fair. After all, plenty of sports star authors are anti-doping or anti-match fixing, likewise screen stars dislike reality TV personalities being handed presenting roles without having studied for it - ditto pop stars and instant X Factor Christmas number ones - yet they seem happy to miss out on the slush pile! I think it's fair enough. There's clearly a market for it and ultimately it helps publishers fund new writing.

Michelle Robinson said...

I'll look out for you in Heat Mag.

Zoogles said...

This is definitely the best piece of wisdom I've read in a long time - and so practical. Thank you for putting a gargantuan (apologies, just reread step 5), I mean 'big' smile on my face! :)

Michelle Robinson said...

Happy to!