Awash in Celebrity Authors Print

Yue-Minjun---Postmodern-Garden(Ontologica: A Journal of Art and Thought Winter 2011)


The most fun I’ve had on the Internet of late has been watching YouTube broadcasts, uploaded from Subtitled “We Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up!” the site archives and advertises performances of some eighty-four live “readings,” among them Kristin Wiig doing a selection from The Early Poems of Suzanne Somers, whose sexed-up spiritual poetry includes—“If anyone has any extra love/ Even a heartbeat/ Or a touch or two/ I wish they wouldn’t waste it on dogs”—and Mario Cantone’s raucous rendition of Prairie Tale: A Memoir by Melissa Gilbert, whose opening has Gilbert spotting Rob Lowe one day in Hollywood circa 1984, falling “totally” in love with him, starting a “relationship” which is buoyed by “profound” sex, then confronting him weeks later when she discovers his affair with Natasha Kinski: “I walked up to Rob, put my finger in his face, and said very calmly and slowly, ‘You don’t fuck with America’s sweetheart.’”

Nobody except me takes this tripe seriously. Indeed, why should these books be seen as anything other than the rhinestone jewelry of fame? Most TV celebrities are as ridiculous for what they’re famous for as they are ridiculous for their “writing,” which, in most cases, is not theirs at all. It’s inanely penned by a ghostwriter either to sound like them, to belittle them, or both. Even if the celebs get the joke, it doesn’t matter. It’s not like a narcissist has any pride capable of being wounded.

With apologies to Suzanne Somers, who once swooned at the feet of Rod McKuen, virtually none of these memoirs, as I say, is written by the star herself. They, book and celeb, need all the help they can get. A parallel hell is the celebrity novel, a lesser-known stratum in the underworld: Nicole Richie has had two novels published, the Kardashians have just sold their novel to William Morrow, and earlier this year Snooki of MTV’s Jersey Shore came out with A Shore Thing. Snooki told the New York Times that yes, she wrote the book, even though (I’m not sure this is relevant) she said she had read only two books in her life: Twilight and Dear John. To the Today show’s Matt Lauer, she defended her writing of the book by saying, “Because if you read it, you’ll know from the first page that I wrote it. Cause, like, it’s all my language.” (Is she saying that if you read it, you’ll know how bad her language is—a badge of honor—and you’ll be convinced she must have written it?) After enduring further lame-stream-media questions, she admitted to a co-author. One i-Reporter (guy with a microphone and a camera buddy) asked attendees at Snooki’s Manhattan book signing some stupid questions, on which was, who were their top three favorite authors, besides Snooki. “I don’t know,” said one Guidette with a dismissive flip. “I don’t read.” The sentiment seemed to speak for everyone he asked.

The Timesreporter Julie Bosman dug into the phenomenon, interviewing several publishers who insisted these celebrity books came from ghostwriters with the celebs contributing elements of the plot. One literary agent wondered whether such books take money, marketing, and editing away from “legitimate novelists.” (It was a wonder, not a complaint.) Obviously, they do. Why do celebrities lie and say/believe they have written their books? They’re unable to differentiate between the collaborative team and a self. After all Snooki is one of six stars of Jersey Shore, whose cameras showcase her and the other dim bulbs constantly. Crews and publicists, editors and publicists all work for the “talent” whose names and faces pay their wages. Into that stew falls the novel’s co-author. Publishers agree to such projects, in part, because they want a movie or TV series based on the book. To play, they must pay between $200,000 and $1 million advances, and the book has to be written quickly and be easily marketable to the audience who’ve bought the package. Invariably, the heroine of these novels is someone whose persona of wacky gullibility is the spitting image of the star’s image.

Gauging the ubiquity of these books, we need to see the author not as a writer but as a corporate entity. Corporately authored books, not writerly ones, get the ad budget and make the Big Money. Roughly half of the New York Times’ nonfiction bestseller list, the blockbusters, is comprised of books “written by” people who possess celebrity, who are known for anything but reflection or crafting plots, and who hire co-authors, ghostwriters, or as-told-to’s with whom—the surrogate-mother metaphor is not far off—they make a book. It’s tough to tell sometimes whether there is a co-author; one must examine the acknowledgments page to find out and even then the reference may be murky. Some publishers admit to dual authorship on the cover, many do not. It’s considered gauche in fiction, OK in nonfiction—the seriousness of the latter, the frivolousness of the former. The most famous co-author, whose name appears boldly on the cover because she has become a celebrity co-author herself (the next incarnation), is Lynn Vincent. The Christian writer, who only works with Christians and conservatives, has co-authored, or entirely written, among others, Going Rouge by Sarah Palin, Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo, and Same Kind of Different As Me by Denver Moore and Ron Hall.

At Amazon’s Top 100 list, we find a hodge-podge of print titles, again half of which are co-authored. There are books on weight-loss, dog-raising, Christian belief, keys to success, and being a healthier you; there are athlete memoirs, rocker autobiographies, dystopic fantasies, and vampire chapter books; and there is the factory-hack James Patterson who has a stable of contract-silenced co-authors who pen his books’ first drafts. (A few literary novels, high-school classics, a Dr. Seuss, and other “written” potboilers round out the list.) What do these co-authored, now also available as e-books, have in common? They are slight. Many, if not most, are inspirational. In lieu of a theme, they possess a message, a healing one at that: usefulness is the work’s primary value. They promise a feel-good reading experience, devoid of literature’s abstruseness. Many are based on or follow contemporary fads, current events, and movie tie-ins. Three-fourths of Amazon’s Top 100 are nonfiction. Of the fiction, most are in the fantasy camp, textual likenesses of the movie Avatar. Most are nonliterary (we might say anti-literary as in anti-complex or unchallenging). Of the nonfiction, much is written quickly at an eighth-grade reading level, bullet-pointed, and stylistically banal. What these books avoid in elegance or complication they make up for in simple-minded subject matter. And their common denominator is that almost all are tied to their electronic media source, where the book was birthed and on whose platform the book towers above the rest. Popular print books (and this will be true for e-book versions as they take over) represent visual and auditory media familiars. A writer, working alone in his or her silent domain, is not essential to the product.

Whether these co-authored bestsellers rehash the plots of a TV series like C.S.I. or they celebrate the pluckiness of those thrust into the spotlight (no one thought of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler as a celebrity author [least of all Tyler] until the promised broadcast of his wizened, old-lady face and virgin-hungry leer on American Idol secured his tell-all book deal), they are conceived, produced, and marketed via the centrifugal group-mind of media collaboratives. Such craftily built, multiplatformed relationships circumnavigate a number of iPhone-ing and texting contributors: agents and co-authors, marketers and handlers, publicists hitting up TV talk shows and TV talk shows fawning over celebrities.

With such a Big Tent definition, it’s easy to see and say that all bestsellers are celebrity authored. The book is produced only because the celebrity’s previously (or about to be) created TV audience can be sold to. My tortured syntax mimics how such authorship works—celebrities, like advertisers and TV programs, deliver products to viewers: one item is a book whose author’s unlikely bookishness is its message. (Footballer John Madden’s Hey, Wait a Minute, I Wrote a Book.) This direct link to audiences is true because bestselling books cannot reach such high status unless they are/will be familiar to TV audiences, and they cannot reach such big sales unless they are marked down at grocery stores, Wal-Marts, and Targets, where the TV crowd shop and most books are sold. Thus, bestselling books are subsidiaries of the recent or present capital event, their covers recalling last month’s TV screens. This is no different from the professional sports franchise whose coffers grow not on the “beauty” of the game or the “winning” record of the team but on the barrage of co-related, long-tailed, everyday products whose moment to sell is tied to the seasonality of the American marketplace. Baseball books sell in the spring, novels in early summer, religious books in late fall. Books that outsell other books are timed to sell something bigger than the book—Tyler’s memoir spurs interest in Idol, not the other way around. To conceive the corporately authored book, there has to be something more monetarily inducing than the book itself, which requires the book be written and, only then, necessitates a writer.


Without their own TV shows, “novel” authors Snooki, Lauren Conrad (L.A. Candy), Hilary Duff (Elixir), and Pamela Anderson (Star) would have been rejected by publishers. With nothing to tie the book’s sale to, such novels cannot be marketed. It’s not that a bad book can’t be marketed. It’s that a bad book without a name or a media-attuned subject has no market. In the normal realm, an authoress (her male counterpart as well) who writes a bad book and is not famous we call a writer manqué, a “would be,” a woman who is unfulfilled in manifesting her capabilities or desires as a writer. But here I’m not sure that the shattered dream of the would-be novelist (is the manqué untalented or unfulfilled?) makes sense in their cases. Were they not celebrities, I suspect, they would not have thought “writing a novel” was possible or worth their time. Who else thought these TV sex toys could write a novel except a publisher, an agent, a personal assistant, a packager, a hired gun, and probably not the celeb?

Each of these female celebrity novelists are not “would-be” authors. They are the opposite of the manqué: they “will be” authors because they are known, even beloved (not as writers but as personalities). They “will never be” frustrated authors, a la the manqué, because they “will be” published. Just say the word. If these women can’t go through the travails and/or falseness of the hack or dilettante, then I’m afraid there’s nothing manqué about them.

This is a big change, to move from would-be to will-be. It reveals a completely different path to authorship than via writing. Even stranger, the authorship we’re talking about here—say the Sir Charles Barkley sort—has nothing to do with Barkley writing. In fact, not only did he not write a word of his four books during and after his NBA career, he also famously stated that he had no interest in reading his autobiography, I May Be Wrong But I Doubt It.

And yet, despite this idiocy, celebrity grants one writerly merit. This is the perversity at the heart of being known: fame confers credibility as its first and widest-ranging fact. What’s more, fame allows you to do those things you wanted to do that were, by some nature, barred to you when (or because) you weren’t famous.

The non-famous writer can’t get published.

The famous nonwriting person can.

In the first case, the writer can only get published on the merit of the writing.

In the second, the merit of the writing has nothing to do with it.

I want to associate this merit of the writing to the French theorist, Jean Baudrillard: “The very definition of the real has become,” he writes in Simulations, (his italics), “that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction.” In other words, for Pamela Anderson (a slightly dated but telling example) to write a novel it need not be anything more than “an equivalent reproduction” of a novel; in fact, it has to be “an equivalent reproduction” of a novel written by the nonwriting celebrity, Pamela Anderson. Her 2005 novel has garnered some eighty-one “customer reviews,” at, evenly split along the one-to-five critical spectrum. Many of the reviews are as confused as they are revealing. One, entitled “Too many inconsistencies,” reads,

I wonder who edited this book? I really wanted to like it too, but it was all over the place. In the beginning, Star is described as a natural athlete who is super smart, then she is described as not a natural at anything but a really dedicated hard worker, and finally, she is described as someone who didn’t work hard enough and wasn’t really good at anything. And that’s just in the first five chapters! I just can’t figure out why nobody else picked up on all of the inconsistencies. (That was just one example!) I know this is fiction, and I have to give Anderson credit for writing a book, but it comes off as unpolished, and I really blame whoever told her that it was ready for print. A little bit more time and it could have been a really entertaining read! Don’t waste your time, it’s not worth it. And Pam, if you are going to write another book, find a new ghost writer and editor!

The fact that the reviewer found that the novel needed editing confirms, in the reviewer’s mind, that she, the ditzy celeb, wrote it, although that’s not exactly right. As I say, the trick is to make it sound like her: to dumb it down and dumb it up so the resemblance is clear. The more Anderson’s novel simulates what we think her novel should be—a book about girls in bikinis having sex with some bad guys whose nefarious plot they wiggle out of as well as those bikinis—the more it becomes an equivalent, an authentication, of her and her image, the core replication the celebrity-authored book, in turn, reproduces. That’s why, in terms of audience interest, there’s no need to sell the book and why there’s no need to hire an editor: it comes off as goofily written by Pam Anderson. The point is, the novel already exists in the imaginations of those who actually read it, if any do. The book, like any simulation, exists as that which is always already reproduced. No different from the formulaic plots and jiggle moments of Baywatch, Anderson’s Star is already present (even the title is an iteration, in case we missed it), already conceived as the thing we (used to) go to Baywatch to watch—her Starness. In a sense, the novel has already been written because it occupies no other place than what it simulates. What it simulates is its reality.

Fame is the endlessness of reproduction, engineered by a conspiracy of replicas among dozens of media, many alive. Thus, the Pamela Anderson doll, joke, swimsuit, laugh, hair sweep, novel, TV series, personal appearance, issue engagement (she has famously lent her cleavage to save animals, beings she chooses not to eat, a position rife with Puritanical irony: a sexualized body, undefiled by meat), and the ditzy girlie talk the reality TV cameras linger over in close-ups. Only when the reproductive largesse grows widespread enough does her credibility emerge. It’s bigger than viral; it’s archetypal. Celebrity cred is itself a kind of accomplishment cred: the body of fame, replicating person and product, manufacturing expectation and satiety, re-seeding each serving size until another body with a wider simulation comes along and displaces it. Consumption fosters credibility because we value (and are addicted to) the endlessness and the unchangeableness of what we consume: The same great cup of coffee, hot dogs on the Fourth of July, presidential candidates who submit themselves to the will of their handlers.


Literature, the books our tradition says we have read and should read, possess a kind of fame that transcends the temporary, though substantial, renown the celebrity-authored book enjoys. The idea of literature’s slow fame (like slow food) has been co-opted by the fast fame (like fast food) of the instant classic. The fastest way in is for authors to proclaim their self-worth by using (any) sudden notoriety as a means to merchandizing their self-esteem and to publication. When authors (those not, as yet, anointed by TV) take celebrity into their own hands, we get the unimaginably “real” story (Hitler’s Diaries, for instance), whose ubiquitous exposure becomes, or is set up in advance to become, the fuel that fires the raging sell, then withdrawal, of the book. James Frey, for example, purposely misled his readers, though his publisher, we come to know, was in on the scam; one meta-reader, Oprah Winfrey, didn’t take kindly to the trick. Other self-aggrandizing hoaxes include the made-up “Holocaust memoirs” of Misha DeFonseca and Herman Rosenblat, ploys “based on a true story” that profited off deified misery before they were exposed and cancelled. And the bizarre case of Laura Albert.

In 2000, Albert published a novel, Sarah, under the pseudonym, J.T. Leroy. Albert imagined the writer Leroy to be the son of a truck-stop hooker who was sexually abused and drug-addicted and became, while still a teenager, a male hustler. The novel garnered much notoriety, in part, because its semi-autobiographical narrative posited a “real” young man, the author, who an enquiring public/media wanted to meet. Albert, scrambling to find a living version of Leroy, asked a cousin, Savannah Knoop, to impersonate Leroy at public appearances. The catch was, Knoop had to disguise herself as Leroy, a homeless transgender male prostitute; she donned a flat-brim hat, blonde wig, and dark glasses, the bruise-hiding kind. Albert got into the act by becoming one of two alter egos, Speed and Emily, accompanying Leroy/Knoop at his/her personal appearances. The pair, Albert and Knoop, eventually conned several Hollywood celebrities with whom they hung out and were photographed, the goal of many corporate authors. At one point, Leroy/Knoop said she/he or she/she was HIV-positive and received donations for her condition. Albert sold the screen rights of her novel to a film company but, once the fraud was revealed in 2006, the company sued her in what was labeled a “postmodern trial.” Albert claimed that a lifetime of abuse and low self-esteem culminated in her making up the Leroy alter ego. At one point, she said, Leroy “wanted his own body,” so she enlisted the actress Knoop to play the part. In the end, Albert was found guilty of fraud. Knoop eventually wrote a memoir about the whole affair, Girl Boy Girl, arguing that her self-worth had been lost and found by the scam. With classic insincerity, Albert, who hated Knoop for writing a book that capitalized on Albert’s theater, called Knoop’s memoir “sad” and “sleazy.” (Throughout this “scandal,” I have heard no one who has covered the story and none of the key players speak of reading either of these books.)

Albert’s and Knoop’s cases are two examples among dozens in which fraudulent authorship outs the artist/writer and forces her contrition. The result of this Gordian knot is to spawn a post-fame credibility which the artist/writer uses to legitimize herself as an author. Jayson Blair was the New York Times’ reporter, outed and ousted for plagiarism, and whose 2004 autobiography, Burning Down My Master’s House, pits his undiagnosed bipolar disorder against his confessional rectitude, implicating his master’s house as the culture in which his illness flourished. Today he is a “certified life coach” with Web site and blog.

Recently, I edited a woman writer and her self-published religious memoir. In it, she strove to make the tenets of her church and her faith conform to her experiences, a kind of post-dated revelation of her destiny, given credence by the watchful eye of Jesus Christ, her guardian angel. Much of the writing has a first-draft quality; some pages are quite well done. But what struck me more than the relative quality of the work is that first she published and second the rite of publication may have revealed the work’s uneven quality to her. The latter move, apparently, led her to seek my editing service. Strangely, self-publishing may have legitimized her effort, making her a celebrity of her own doing, so that she might then seek guidance. The idea of writing and publishing a flawed book has something of the prideful act and anticipated forgiveness central to Christian redemption.

The notion of self-mediated and self-proclaimed self-worth is the newest driver of contemporary authorship—more so than that which drives the actual writing, an effort which most would say leads to self-worth, or better, the discovery that one’s experiences have meaning, which the assiduously confounding work of memoir will bring about.

In a world now where anyone can publish—and it seems everyone does—we stand out from the crowd only when we ourselves heard more loudly than our writing. We get heard via all those other out-loud media which are not writing. Broadcasting our self-worth says that being heard is our primary goal while artistic quality is secondary. To be heard is to be believed, to be credible. (Ask the victim of physical or sexual abuse.) Furthermore, being heard and establishing credibility are functions of your broadcasting arm—an electronic presence, social media status, a blog, a tweet following, self-updates. We possess worth because we have established ourselves online and, perhaps, in publication, and not because our writing deems us worthy. Who wants to wait for artistic legitimacy, which may or may not come from twenty-five years of the stone-splitting work of writing. There has to be an easier way. Or, put better, the Internet and the market for written work grants us an easier way: place our personality in front of our creativity and our notices will grow.

This idea is echoed in the documentary, The New Shock of the New, completed in 2004 by the art critic, Robert Hughes. The hour-long film updates his 1980 BBC series, The Shock of the New. It is fascinating to hear Hughes grumble about what art has become, since 1980, and especially post-9/11, much of it grumble-worthy. Despite the attack on the twin towers, he says, artists in the 2000s are not interested in social issues, war, suffering, history, culture, or the environment. None of that is reflected in their concerns. If anything, Hughes says, their pieces “tell of the artist’s own personal phobias. You only have to go to a big survey show of contemporary art, like the Whitney Biennial in New York, to see that it’s all become rather bloated. Artists seeking to make an impact with an instant hit, anything to stand out from the crowd, anything that says, ‘Look, here I am, I have arrived, I am different.’ Whatever it is, it’s about making an immediate impact, about fast gettable and sellable images.” Fame. Notoriety. Celebrity. The mine-and-mine-only renown that has sanctified Julian Schnabel and Damian Hurst. In the film, Hughes’s disgust is visceral as he interviews the “most famous” (i.e., the highest-priced) artist in America, Jeff Koons. Koons says his work is informed by Michelangelo and Titian but Hughes doesn’t buy it. Puppies and chimps and porn stars in tacky remakes of scenes from art history are not meaningful, Hughes argues irritatingly, least of all because Koons says they possess cultural significance. A market fact, Koons’ art (much of it produced by teams of interns) sells more when Koons declaims himself the pinnacle, the logical terminus, of all previous art movements and personalities. Such hype ensures the public will believe anything an artist says about his work. An easily wowed public quickly discounts its own estimation of what art is supposed to be.

The new authorship suggests that you must traverse many roads to get to the mountaintop, but you must devote most of your time to establishing your brand. Authorship is the result of becoming the kind of person whose priority is not necessarily writing but is doing whatever it takes to achieve self-renown so that you earn, or stumble upon (accidents are acceptable), the authorship you deserve. All paths are equal, too. A documentary film, a one-person show rejected by the Whitney, a reality TV show preferably “Celebrity Rehab,” an aging rock band, a Web empire, a spiritual transformation, simulated sex with a married congressman, the life-saving slicing-off of your own arm: and don’t forget those public-speaking engagements at which you, the wounded healer, sell your line of DVDs, workbooks, and online counseling. Ask Anthony “Tony” Robbins, the sales king. He never set out to write. But as the disaffected hordes discovered him and he discovered how eager they were for the Pollyannaish belief in themselves he peddled to them, Tony—and the as-told-to he hired to be his doppelganger in print—became a writer.

On your way up, stay branded, my friends.


In 1934, Ezra Pound wrote in the ABC of Reading that “More writers fail from lack of character than from lack of intelligence.” Character issues from the person; intelligence from her learning. The world’s great artists are, for Pound, strong personalities whose mastery is bred of their character, their ability to “make it new.” Perhaps these days, authorship is the perverse extension of Pound’s insight.

But I wonder whether character adequately accounts for the technological revolution in creating and disseminating the arts in this century. For all his wisdom, Pound is enthralled by the soloist. He has little consciousness that the writer evolves in compliance with an audience, a culture, and the technology of his environment. I think our age of interactivity is forecasted best by C. G. Jung in his 1930 essay, “Psychology and Literature,” which appears in The Spirit in Man, Art, and Literature. In it, Jung argues that “the essence of a work of art is not to be found in the personal idiosyncrasies that creep into it—indeed, the more there are of them, the less it is a work of art—but in it[s] rising above the personal and speaking from the mind and heart of the artist to the mind and heart of mankind.” He goes on: “Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is ‘man’ in a higher sense—he is ‘collective man,’ a vehicle and molder of the unconscious psychic life of mankind.” With Jung, we still hear the inevitable, Romantic focus on the “higher man,” the strong personality. But Jung goes further. The artist partakes of the “collective man,” a spirit or force within us which our psychic lives and creative communities evolve and which are, in effect, more responsible for our “success” than we are. That the culture appropriates the artist to do its biding Jung condenses into the aphorism, “It is not Goethe that creates Faust, but Faust that creates Goethe.”

Jung’s idea offers a key to how the artist/writer is hooked by celebrity, his own or someone else’s. The how combines our media, our Internet presence, and our devices with our desires to be heard and seen—as we believe those who “matter” are heard and seen. The screen is larger than us, and it is collective, transcendently electric. Marshall McLuhan understood this fifty years ago. The Wikipedia article on his class book, The Gutenberg Galaxy, summarizes an idea fundamental to McLuhan: “Technologies are not simply inventions which people employ, but are the means by which people are reinvented.” As our technologies reinvent us, we follow their connectedness; we have no choice. To paraphrase Jung, it is not our individual desire as artists that may reach an infinite Web-based audience via a memoir, a music video, or a documentary film, but our technologies that promise access to that infinite audience and, in turn, create our desire for it. The fact that thousands of dealers and collectors across the world want kitsch art creates a Jeff Koons. The fact that millions of adolescents and young adults insist musical artists mix video, dance, fashion, modeling, runway culture, and sexual ambiguity creates the multimedia phenomenon, Lady Gaga. The fact that Christian Americans feel under attack by secularists and the “lame-stream” media creates a Sarah Palin who, in turn, mirrors those often uninformed, principled values Christians recognize. The media tries to convince us that Tea Party consciousness has been collectivized by Palin and, thus, she, not it, needs covering. Obviously, it’s easier to focus on a personality than a movement’s multi-voiced complexity. Applying Jung’s prescription, it’s not that Sarah Palin creates the Tea Party, but the Tea Party that creates Sarah Palin.

It should be clear by now that (we) artists and authors are the products of media technologies whose collective mission—its cloud, if you will—is to enthrall us with celebrity, with celebrities, and, thus, to foster our inner idol. And yet aren’t the odds of being chosen an idol hopelessly slim? If fame is so fickle, why do most people believe that each will get his or her shot? Indeed, the ubiquity of fame is a counterintuitive idea. There’s room for only a few at a time: the one lucky guy rescuers pull out alive after the West Virginia coal mine disaster, the wife of Anthony Weiner, a child tortured and murdered in Syria.

What to do while waiting for the van from Publisher’s Clearinghouse?

Simple. You self-organize. You use the social media network of professionals, LinkedIn, which advertizes, “Build your empire, create your success.” You put the time into staying linked. Otherwise, you don’t exist. Or, as you soon learn, you exist only when you’re linked. You search for publicity prior to production, attain promotion prior to practice.

Celebrity authorship is now guiding the work that non-celebrity writers feel they must do. Such self-scaffolding can be reproduced by anyone who aspires to write. Erecting your platform is key, for you are only as credible as you are accessible and you are only as accessible as your media presence allows you to be. It is the triumph of appearance, which is really the triumph of distraction, of the author’s otherness. I have heard book doctors and literary agents talk endlessly about platform, the self-establishment of one’s self-standing, for which and at which the publisher/editor looks to see the author from a vantage where the author is seen by others, many others, it is hoped. But the platform is suddenly old hat. It has been eclipsed by creating multiplatformed sites that multiply the vantages from which every media-savvy side of the author is seen.

This multiplatforming of the self (to include our multi-hyphenation) decrees that we are credible when our hoped-for accomplishment is prefigured by a place of notoriety or a standing of authority from which the deed, for example, a book I intend to write, is launched. Instead of evaluating myself as a “would-be” writer, I must push and publicize the expectation that I “will be” a credible author. A credible author includes yet goes beyond the writer—or, more accurately, goes before the writer writes. In Jungian terms, my multiple platforms, my ability to present my work in summary samples prior to the work’s production, and my cheerful self-aggrandizement with doing these many cheerless things creates a space in the world where the work will, even should, exist so that I (or whoever) can then make the work happen.