What do Greg James, Channing Tatum, and Meghan Markle all have in common? While these celebs might seem poles apart, they have all embarked on the same side hustle, one that is quickly becoming one of the most celebrity-crowded careers out there. These famlous names have all put pen to paper to become published children's authors.
It is predicted that the UK publishes approximately 200,000 books a year, with 10,000 of these being children's books, according to University College London. And while these figures suggest that the book industry is booming, why are so many celebs, who are already hugely successful (and well paid) in their own careers, bothering to take time out of their busy schedules to pen a bedtime story?
It all becomes a little less surprising when you take a quick look at the king of celebrity children's books: David Walliams. The former "Britain's Got Talent" judge published his debut book, "The Boy in the Dress", back in 2008. He was by no means the first celebrity to ever put their name to a children's book, but he did become an overnight literary success story.
The book, illustrated by much-loved children's illustrator Quentin Blake, quickly became a number one best seller in Britain and became hailed as a literary winner. His follow-up book, "Mr Stink", came in 2009, followed by "Billionaire Boy" in 2010 and "Gangsta Granny" in 2011, making Walliams the fastest growing children's author in the UK, selling an average of 20,000 books a week, per BookTrust.
Now, over a decade on, Walliams has published 25 children's books and celebrated more than 180 weeks on the No 1 spot in the children's book charts. To put that into perspective, not even Harry Potter author J K Rowling can claim that accolade.
From a comedian and actor to not just the UK's highest-earning children's author, but one of the highest earning authors overall, it's not surprising that other celebs want a piece of Walliams's highly lucrative pie. One that is, according to Metro, worth over £100 million, and sees him take home over £18 million a year. So, is it all down to money that so many of these celebs are picking up pen and writing kids books?
"It offers a really valuable way to build a celebrity's personal brand within an audience and space that perhaps previously they would not have had much of a foothold."
Talent manager and co-founder of the Diving Bell Group Kim Butler says it's way more than just a cash injection. "These days, to stay relevant long-term as a celebrity, you need to build a brand," she tells POPSUGAR. "If a celebrity has the right type and size of audience and – ideally – they also have children of their own, it can make huge sense for them to explore writing children's books. Children's literature can be an incredibly lucrative market but, more importantly, it offers a really valuable way to build a celebrity's personal brand within an audience and space that perhaps previously they would not have had much of a foothold."
Plus, if their books do well, there's also the spinoff opportunities, book-to-TV shows, and franchises that can be capitalised on with the kid's book market. "If their books become successful, celebrities become a branded author within the children's books market and are then able to release multiple books under this brand name. This can lead to multiple book deals, which is good money, but also allows the next step to take place," Butler continues. "This would be to explore other areas of opportunity, for example live shows, merchandise, and children's TV, all of which offer high financial gain and keep that celebrity relevant and in the public eye."
Celebrities also have the added benefit of often having a high following, leading to a marketing dream. "The more successful their books are, the higher an advance can be negotiated as the publisher knows there is minimal risk," she says. "If a celebrity already has a name that people know, it interests publishers, and then if they can actually write, it can be a match made in heaven. Publishers rely on their books being marketed and, when they team up with a celebrity, the majority of the marketing is through the celeb's own channels, their Instagram, and TiKTok, and this large and incredibly engaged audience is key to making their book sales a success."
From a Spice Girl to Magic Mike's leading star, keep reading for some unlikely celebrities who have written children's books.