View Full Version : Writing a Celebrity Autobiography

05-17-2005, 09:50 AM
I've been bouncing this idea around for a while now. There's a celebrity that I'd love to write his biography. I have all the contact info, his publicist's contact info, etc... But how do I start this? Do I contact his publicist and propose the idea to him to pass on to this specific celeb asking for his cooperation in this project?

I have a number of articles, etc..under my belt, but no published books. Would not having any published books slim my chance of doing something like this?


You're probably the best one to answer my questions, considering the work you're doing with Celine Dion, etc...

What do I do? How do I start this? Any info. to get me on the right path will be most appreciated. I've been thinking about this for quite a while and figure I might as well take a shot at it, instead of just thinking about it and procrastinating.

The worst that can happen is they'll say no. But I'll never know if I don't take a shot at it, right? :Shrug:

So, help! Where do I start?


05-19-2005, 01:44 AM
Hey Celeste! Sorry it took me a while to reply. I have to preface this by saying that my celeb stuff came to me by sort-of kismet:

Jamie Blyth e-mailed me after he read my book Conquering Panic and Anxiety Disorders, and he asked me to help write his book.

Soon thereafter, I got a call from an agent to do another celeb book, which didn't work out, unfortunately.

The Celine book: I had sent a resume and work samples to the book packager years ago, and when a new editor came in, she went through their old files, read my stuff, and wanted to work with me. They hired me after the deal with Celine was already in place.

That said, I do think it's all about making your own opportunities in life, and you're absolutely right (no pun intended) that the worst they can do is say no.

I'd write letters to this celeb's manager/agent/publicist/whomever, explaining your interest and your experience. Enclose samples of your writing. Yes, not having written a book before will probably be a detriment, but that doesn't mean it can't be overcome. If you can get the celeb on board for an authorized biography, and the celeb is someone with a strong fan base, you shouldn't have trouble finding a publisher.

That was what I planned to do with Billy Joel and Julia Roberts-- they were my next two "targets," and I was going to send packages to their agents pitching me as their ghostwriter/biographer. But I wound up too inundated with other assignments, and recently found out that Billy just signed a deal with another writer. Sigh! Hope Julia waits for me. :)

The one suggestion I have is that since you don't have book credits yet, you might start by asking if you can do an interview with the celeb for a magazine first. Then, if the celeb likes you and your writing style, you can go in for the kill with the book proposal. To me, that would be a good way to build trust in your abilities without the celeb making a big commitment up-front.

05-19-2005, 02:50 AM
Thank you, Jenna!

I was also thinking about trying the interview/article approach first. I think that's what I'll start with.

The celeb I have in mind does have a big fan base. In fact, he's very good to his fans. So, I think it wouldn't be hard finding a publisher. I've done some research and there hasn't been a book written about him yet. So, that's a plus too (I think. Lol...)

I was worried about not having any book credits holding me back, but I'm just going to go for it. And if they say no, I'll keep my fingers crossed that nobody writes his biography until I can build my resume and then take another shot at it at a later date.

I've found some helpful sites with articles about writing a celebritity's biography. I'll post the links in a bit, incase any others ever need any info on this topic.

So, I'm just take the leap and hope for the best!

Thank you again, Jenna! I appreciate your help! I'll let you know what happens. And good luck with the Julia Roberts project! I hope that works out for you!


05-22-2005, 12:26 AM
Thanks! Yeah, do keep us updated-- I'd love to hear how it goes. And I'd love to check out those links!

05-22-2005, 04:07 AM
Thanks! Yeah, do keep us updated-- I'd love to hear how it goes. And I'd love to check out those links!

Oh yeah! Links. Thanks for reminding me! Lol...:Smack:

This one's about writing an 'unauthorized' biography and the laws regarding it: http://www.publaw.com/biography.html

This one's a short article about writing the celebrity as 'who they are' and not what the public portrays them to be: http://westmidlands.ideasfactory.com/writing/features/feature13.htm

This site is an alphabetical listing of celeb bios that have already been written: http://www.popmatters.com/books/reviews/archive-a.shtml
Here's another that just lists celeb book collections:


This is an article/interview of an author telling how she started writing celeb biographies: http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/mar98/swenson.htm

I found a ton of articles to read. So, instead of posting a million links, I'll give the google link for my search words, which were "writing celebrity biographies". http://www.google.com/search?q=writing+celebrity+biographies&hl=en&lr=&start=0&sa=N



Damn! Your going to be bummed. I just found this while doing a search. Looks like Julia's biography was written by a guy named James Spada. The Book is called "Julia: Her Life". Here's an interview with the author. That sucks! I was hoping for you!

Here's the book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0312285655/ref=ase_juliarobertsonli/103-0439425-1691012?v=glance&s=books

Man! I'm serious when I say I'm bummed to find that author interview for Julia Roberts' book! I was really hoping you'd get a shot at it. You'll just have to find someone better to write about. :Thumbs:


12-20-2005, 01:18 AM
Sorry, I'm resurecting this thread so I don't need to create a new one.

Jenna, you suggested above that Celeste write to the person's manager and include the proposal and writing samples. May I ask why you suggest writing to them rather than calling? Would you follow up with a phone call?

P.S. I sold two copies of your Celine Dion book yesterday, btw at Barnes and Noble :)

12-20-2005, 12:41 PM
Hi Kelsey! I'd write only because that's how I'm more comfortable-- I'm not as confident with cold-calling people. In a letter, I can spell out exactly who I am and what I've written, why I'm interested, what the celeb can gain from this, etc., which (to me) is easier than trying to remember to say all that on the phone, particularly if the manager/publicist/etc. is rushing me or not sounding receptive.

And of course, I'd include samples (in my case, I'd send a book or two, but if I didn't have that, I'd send clips of articles I'd written).

The main reason most editors don't want pitches over the phone is that they can't tell if you're a good writer based on your phone conversation. I'd imagine the same with celebrity representatives-- before talking turkey, I'd think they'd like to see proof of your writing ability and experience first.

But yes, I'd follow up with a phone call (or e-mail) in a couple of weeks if I didn't hear anything. Incidentally, that's how I've handled blurbs, too-- I send a letter/e-mail/fax first, then follow up by phone if I don't get a response within about two weeks.

Nothing's set in stone, though. If you know you kick butt on the phone, I don't think it would be a horrible thing to call first to size up the situation.

P.S. Hey, thanks for selling my book! :kiss:

12-22-2005, 09:25 AM
Okay, thank you so much for your response, it helps a lot.