Saturday, June 06, 2009

Wait a Minute!

I read the following press release in Entertainment Weekly yesterday and closed my hanging jaw long enough to say, “Wait a minute.”
Rubina Ali, who played the youngest Latika in Slumdog Millionaire, will be publishing a book about her life, according to the AP. Called Slumgirl Dreaming: My Journey to the Stars, the book will be published on July 16th by Transworld Publishers in Britain and Random House Children's Books in the U.S. It will tell the story of the 9-year-old's life in the Mumbai slum in which she has spent her life and her trip to the Oscars this year. All royalties will go to Ali and the French medical-aid charity, Medecins du Monde.
First of all, she’s 9, can probably barely write. Nine puts her around third grade. Apparently she not only writes, she can write quickly since it’s coming out next month.

Second of all, she’s only 9. How much of a life story does she have to tell?

Third of all, she was found in the slums of Mumbai, but is giving some of the royalties to a charity? I mean, that’s generous, but my guess is she and her family could use every penny of the royalties.

Seriously, though, no matter what the PR piece says, she’s not writing this book herself. So who is? Will it be a children’s book? Will it have an adult’s voice since an adult is most likely writing it?

But wait! There’s an answer to my question. Not only can Rubina write. She can write for children and for adults.

Bookseller reported:
Slumgirl Dreaming: My Journey to the Stars will be published simultaneously in adult and children's editions …
I think it’s clear that someone else is writing the book. That’s not a big deal. She’s nine, after all. But why does no one say that? Why isn’t the actual writer getting any credit? Are the publishers thinking people will think she took up a red crayon and penned her life story? Do they think her story will mean less if they admit there was a ghost writer or a writer for hire?
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  1. I don't know why they just don't admit it - we all know 99% of the celebrity books were written by others.
    And since she's only nine, it can't be a long book.
    Doubt this was her idea - someone's trying to capitalize on her fame.

    L. Diane Wolfe

  2. Yes, I agree.Sounds exploitive to me.

  3. They are really ripping these poor kids off.

    Her and the other actors are still living in horrible poverty even after the movie, and now this book, made millions.

    I doubt the ghost writer would get paid that much either. The publisher will be the one raking in all the dough - based on fraud, really.

  4. You'd be surprised how many books are ghostwritten. I wrote my first novel when I was nine to entertain fellow classmates. Thank goodness it was never published. :)

  5. I know a ton of books are ghostwritten. It would be interesting if there was an actual number.

  6. Must think we're all idiots. Nothing wrong with at least admitting who the real writer is and giving credits.

    Actually I've never understood ghostwriting - does the ghost get any bucks? Do you know what the typical arrangement is, Helen - anyone?

    The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

  7. A ghost writer is just that - a ghost. It's part of their contract to be unrecognized. Otherwise, they'd get credit. And, yes, they get paid. It can be a lot if they have credits as having written best-sellers. It's less if you're new or haven't proven yourself. I've heard ranges of $2 per page on the low end, up to $200 and more per page for one of those mega best-seller makers.

    But in this case, it seemed to me that no one would have thought this 9 year old wrote the book, so why not give credit to the actual writer.

  8. Novelty value. Poor kid, lived in a slum, proceeds to go to French Medical organization--what a sweet altruistic kid wanting to help her community, adults will think as they fork over money for the book.

    Exploitive, you bet. Abnormal? Unfortunately no.

    I know several ghost writers and if they do their job correctly, the book will capture slumgirl's voice--usually the interviews are taped and there are actually face to face interviews--so a skilled writer could do so. It's what I'd do. Use her expressions, tell in in a younger voice.

    I don't know why they can't say who the ghostwriter is. I did ask my friend Rita, how she got paid as shes ghosted several and ghosted a memoir by a well known military chaplain, but she's not home this weekend.

  9. Hmmm. I could write when i was nine, and better than most nine year-olds, but not *anywhere* near a publishable quality (i'm still struggling with that one :D).

    Looking at the homepage for the charity the royalties are going to (i wonder what the split is between Ali and the charity) i can see they're worldwide, but i can't specifically see anything in India. But surely they must have a presence there, otherwise the whole thing becomes twice as much a farce as it is already.

  10. Thank you Sia and Isaacespriu. Great info!

  11. Typical. You know, when I was 10 I first sat down at the typewriter determined to pen my "memoirs." Then I realized I didn't have as much to say as I thought. Go figure. LOL Then again, I guess I hadn't packed quite as much conflict into my life at that point as this girl. Best of luck to her.


  12. Wow, writing her memoirs at age 9? Guess her lifetime achievement award will hit the awards circuit next year. Oh course a lot of celebrities do this, younger ones too although I can't think of any that young at this hour of the day. Best of luck to her.

    Nancy, from Just a Thought…

  13. I don't have any problem with her putting out a memoir or using a ghost writer as long as she actually gets the bulk of the proceeds. It would make more sense to have someone else write a biography for the adult audience and ghostwrite do a memoir for the children's market to my mind. Both would seem more authentic that way.

    I hope she sees the cash and gets out of the desperate straights she and her family are in now. I think the French charity should spend every penny of the proceeds on improving the lot for those living in that particular slum.

    I just have my doubts that she is going to see much in the way of an improved life out of this. That would be a shame and a sham.


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