Most TV viewers have a favorite character and most readers a favorite author, but in some rare and somewhat surreal instances, those favorites can be one and the same.
A steady stream of novels credited to fictional TV characters has been making its way into bookstores, some even ranking high on the New York Times' best-seller list.
Though soap operas seem to be the top genre to expand their brands with books penned by protagonists, prime-time shows "Castle," "How I Met Your Mother" and "Californication" have works by the fictional Richard Castle, Barney Stinson and Hank Moody, respectively.
So long as there are rabid fans of the shows, they'll be audiences for the books, literary experts said.
"The novels extend the story into real life, like an escape hatch from reality back into the show," said Jason Boog, editor of the publishing website GalleyCat.
Devotees of ABC's "Castle," which stars Nathan Fillion as the titular novelist and NYPD groupie, have helped make Times best sellers out of two crime thrillers by Castle. A third book is due out in September.
ABC and publisher Hyperion have so diligently kept up the meta-marketing that they send actor Fillion to book signings as Castle and answer reporters' queries with statements from Castle. ("It's always a surprise and delight that the audience is responding to your work," Castle said of his literary hits.)
A recently released novel aimed at "General Hospital" fanatics debuted at No. 10 on the Times' list last month. "The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli: As Told to Diane Miller" is authored by the actress who plays Miller, Carolyn Hennesy.
Hennesy said she understands if that's confusing to some, but insists it isn't to her.
"Maybe it points to a psychosis on my part ... but it was not hard bouncing around this way," she said. "To be at the studio and memorize a script and have Diane and Spinelli talking, then to go home and be Carolyn writing about Diane and Spinelli."
In the end, Boog concluded, that genre is fun but simply doesn't have staying power.
"I think the majority of these books end up getting sold at garage sales instead of finding a place on someone's bookshelf," he said.
Real books by fake people
• "Bad Twin" by Gary Troup of "Lost"
• "The Bro Code" by Barney Stinson of "How I Met Your Mother"
• "God Hates Us All" by Hank Moody of "Californication"
• "Charm!" by Kendall Hart of "All My Children"
• "Sterling's Gold" by Roger Sterling of "Mad Men"