Though Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, the diminutive breakout star of MTV's "Jersey Shore" wouldn't seem to be a natural writer — she recently told The New York Times she's read only two books in her life, Twilight and Dear John — the poof-haired tanning aficionado's first novel, tentatively titled A Shore Thing, is set to be published by Simon & Schuster this January. The list of reality stars-turned-authors is long, but how well are their tomes faring in the marketplace? Here are some representative sales figures according to Nielsen Book Scan, whose data accounts for approximately 75 percent of book sales:
Lauren Conrad, who came of age on MTV's "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills," has published two young-adult novels, L.A. Candy and Sweet Little Lies: An L.A. Candy Novel. They've sold a whopping 477,000 copies by Book Scan's tally, enough to earn both books the #1 position on the New York Times children's best seller list. No surprise then that she has a new book (this time for grown-ups), Lauren Conrad Style, out this month.
Nothing to cry about
Fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone (MTV's "The City") translated her blunt reality-TV persona into an advice guide, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You, which has sold enough copies (47,000) to break into the top 20 on the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction.
The notably slender Bethenny Frankel's (Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New York City" and "Bethenny Getting Married") has had success holding forth on dieting. Her Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting and its companion cookbook, The Skinnygirl Dish, have sold 180,000 and 48,000 copies, respectively.
That said, Frankel is the "only real publishing success story" among the New York "Housewives" who've attempted to turn author, noted The Huffington Post's Alicia Rancilio earlier this year. And sales figures bear that out: Despite its aggressively lengthy title, Little Kids, Big City: Tales from a Real House in New York City (With Lessons on Life and Love for Your Own Concrete Jungle), from fellow cast-members Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen, has sold only 2,000 copies, while Luann De Lesseps flopped with Class with the Countess: How to Live with Elegance and Flair and Jill Zarin's Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love eked out only 8,000 in sales. Maureen O’Neal, a former editor at Regan Books, told The Daily Beast that Lesseps' and Zarin's efforts were undermined by the women's dearth of "likeability."
I Just Want You to Know: Letters to My Kids on Love, Faith, and Family from Kate Gosselin of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" has sold 26,000 copies to date, according to Book Scan — "not that impressive," says Jim Milliot, business and news director at Publishers Weekly, given that her earlier books, Multiple Blessings and Eight Little Faces, both went top-10 on the Times bestseller list.
Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton both penned books during their stint as reality stars on "The Simple Life." Richie's The Truth About Diamonds: A Novel made the Times bestseller list in hardcover fiction and went on to sell 40,000 copies in paperback alone. Hilton did not fare as well: Her Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose moved just 29,000 units, and, according to a 2006 Sky News report, was the book most often left behind in hotel rooms.