Tuesday Thoughts || When YouTubers & Celebs 'Write' Novels...



Big names sell things. However there's one area this extends to that really p***es me off: 'writing' a book! The trend started off with celebrities but now YouTubers seem to be getting in on the action and to be honest I think the world could do without yet another poorly-written, rushed ghost-written novel (often loosely based on said celebrity's life). I was quite surprised at the backlash against Zoe after it was uncovered that Girl Online was ghostwritten because I don't follow her and just assumed it was. I would've happily written this weeks ago before this particular controversy because it's part of something much bigger.





In all the press that Kylie and Kendall Jenner did for their novel, they didn't actually seem to have a clue what their book was actually about! They couldn't even be bothered to read a brief synopsis of the book they were putting their names to! I obviously don't know how much involvement every individual famous person who is doing this has in the process (Fleur of FleurDeForce seemed to reference writing herself in one of her videos), but it's a slap in the face to a lot of hard-working, talented writers. I'm certainly not calling all ghost writers hacks but there's only so much you can do when you have little influence over the formulaic story and almost no time to write it in.



I understand the marketing equation and why it's a good way to make a fast buck, however as an aspiring author who has been working on my novel for years to get it to where I feel it needs to be, it seems so hollow and a huge waste. To be perfectly honest if someone with a magic wand asked me if I would like to be a famous blogger or YouTuber with millions of fans or a published author, I would choose being published in a heartbeat! There are so many talented writers out there (not that I would be so presumptuous as to count myself amongst them!), some of whom I know who are rejected because their work isn't easily marketable. It doesn't seem to be about telling incredible stories that will endure, it's about debuting with thousands of copies even if the book's success is fleeting. 



The aspiring author in me knows that blood, sweat and tears go into writing a novel; you grow as a person whilst you hone your abilities. It's bloody hard to write a book, especially whilst you're working or studying and I think a lot of writers are terrible perfectionists who live and breathe their work! It takes time to get to know your characters and a surprising amount of research goes into writing something believable. Personally my writing has had me reading up on everything from theoretical physics to people's accounts of living in abusive relationships. Getting an agent is like an impossible mission and that's the only way to get a publisher to even skim over your first chapter. Some of the most successful novels of all times had rejections heaped on them or weren't popular until years later because they weren't 'marketable'. Yet at the same time there has been some real rubbish released in the past decade using celebrity names. 




Bloggers are definitely a little more qualified than celebrities to write books, however I think they would do better to stay away from 'writing' novels. Why not bring out a style guide or beauty bible? Even an activity book or some sort of Urban Outfitters-type coffee table book. I would actually read something like that from a YouTuber or Blogger and it seems a lot more relevant and less cynical. It is an amazing achievement that bloggers are considered influential enough for these opportunities and it'd be hard to turn down all the money that must come from these types of deals but I respect famous people who have a bit of integrity and can say 'maybe I'm not best placed to do this'. Or if you are offered an opportunity like this then make the most of it and actually put in the work, earn the writing community's respect and write it yourself! Write something we'd never expect from you!

People call Stephanie Meyer and E.L. James 'hacks' all the time but at the end of the day they spent the time putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and wrote something! (Trust me; finishing writing a book, even of poor quality is a HUGE achievement) Plus they overcame all of the rejections to finally 'make it' with a story that came from them. Regardless of the literary merit of their works you can't take that away from them, whereas the 'celebrity author' trend takes things to another level. I can't understand why either the celebrity or ghost writer would want to put something out there that isn't real, that isn't coming from them. I think the lack of clarity has really angered some of Zoella's fans and it does seem to undermine all the hard work that goes into writing a book. After all, Katie Price has always been entirely open about using ghost writers and people still buy her books. The dishonesty factor might hurt Zoe in the long-run.


I'm normally a little more measured in expressing my opinions but this is something that I'm really passionate about, so it's hard not to just say what I really think! 

How do you feel about famous people getting book deals?

 




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18 comments

  1. I haven't been really following the whole dispute but after finding out about all the youtubers writing/publishing their books I was feeling like the lines have been crossed. It seems like everyone now can "write" a book, just because they're famous, influential and they will make lots of money of it. Would I buy any of those books? No! Just like you said, they should at least, concentrate on some kind of fashion/beauty books not novels. And the story behind Zoella's book is just ridiculous! x
    Mummy’s Beauty Corner

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    1. Yes it's ridiculous - by all means release material that's relevant to your brand but becoming a 'novelist'...? xx

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  2. Although she has said that she had help and not that it was written by someone else, plenty of authors have help when writing a book. But yes I do agree that Zoe should have been honest from the start as it was going to come out in the long run and I don't think it would have affected the sales...
    It all feels a bit like a publicity stunt to me to be honest as they must have known this was going to happen if they didn't tell the truth...

    Pams Stuff and Things
    GIVEAWAY

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    1. She definitely played the 'having help' card as if she was just an author using an editor, whereas it appears it was a case of her coming up with a vague idea for a storyline and someone else writing it! I'm always amazed that companies think they can keep these sort of things secret! xx

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  3. Well said! Personally I'm not too bothered about the fact it was ghostwritten but what annoys me is the fact she said she's always wanted to write a book and how it's a dream come true. I have friends who are talented authors trying their hardest to get published, however they would never, ever need or want someone to write it for them.

    For someone who claims to be all about honesty, Zoe should have said from the beginning that Girl Online was ghostwritten and not pretended she's always been this aspiring author.

    The Beauty Locker

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    1. Tbh ghostwriting bothers me full stop. The actual author often doesn't get a cut of the profit, just a very small upfront fee :(
      It was pretty ridiculous to try and pretend like she'd always wanted to be an author despite her never expressing it (when she vlogs every moment of her life!) xx

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  4. I would have assumed it was ghostwritten anyway so no idea why they felt the need to lie.

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    1. Me too! It was only after this whole controversy happened that I saw all the quotes and that she apparently clogged about writing! The whole ghostwriting thing annoys me but then to try and take credit for a writing process without having a clue what goes into it....xx

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    2. The cynic in me thinks they wanted 9yo girls to believe it was her work. It's Cassan btw - I always follow your blog and really proud of how well it's doing. Xx

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    3. I didn't realise! Haha hiii and thank you! Also totally agree with that - it seems obvious to me that it was ghostwritten but I can see how young girls may have been duped! xx

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  5. Preaaaaach it! Loved this! I don't understand the point of Zoella having a book if she didn't write it at all. Like isn't it 'pointless'? Excuse the pun. Also a bit annoyed that her whole schtick is about 'Honesty, Integrity and being real' and she wasn't even open about the fact she wasn't writing it. I think she duped a lot of young girls into buying a book they thought she 'wrote' and I believe thats quite awful. I don't like lies. I think she could have saved herself this whole fiasco if she had openly admitted she had a ghost writer involved like Katie Price in the first place.

    Also find that it demeans a creative process when you slap a celebrity onto the cover of a book that they didn't write all for the sake of money. Which is what this whole thing is about. Money and its rather disgusting. Keep preaching. Loved the post! :)

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    1. Yeah I think a big appeal of bloggers over traditional publications is that they're 'real' and 'honest'.
      And thank you - glad you enjoyed the post! xx

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  6. This whole saga has escaped me because I've been sick and away from the Internet for the last week and because honestly, I don't care about Zoella nor have I followed her. As a beauty blogger, I wonder if I should say that.

    I agree with most of this article. I write. Articles. Blog posts. Short stories. A novella I've been writing for years. Writing is so personal and I'm like a mother seeing her youngest child go off into the world. I want to make the conditions just right, the words and plot just so before I agonizingly send it off.

    Regarding your ghostwriter point, I imagine its protection. It's being able to practice your craft and getting paid. Being able to see your words in print without facing the backlash or criticism head-on since it's not yours. Gaining confidence in your writing skills and getting some time to refine your own story. But then again, maybe some ghostwriters don't have their own stories. Maybe they just like the process of writing and seeing where it'll take them next. I don't know.

    Zoella's been vilified a lot from what I've read so far. I don't think she deserves it. She's a brand. She comes with a built-in target market who'd jump at buying things she would put out. She's a no-brainer for a publisher. She's guaranteed to sell! Should this have been handled better? Yes. Her PR people or the publisher's PR people should have took charge of this situation proactively.

    No doubt some of her fans might be disappointed by her and maybe stop following her, but I don't think this hurts her. I think she might even get a couple people purchasing her book because of the controversy.

    As a writer, it burns to know I'm going to have to work so much harder to find an agent or someone to read my book. That when I finish writing, it's not going to be the end but the beginning fighting for someone to take a chance on me. But it's par for the course. Unknowns are such a risky bet to take on.

    Love the post!

    Tiff | AMtoPM

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    1. True - I never thought of ghostwriting like that before. Good point! I guess I just feel that writing a book is so agonising I'd never want to waive creative control and have no credit for it. I'd rather just use a pen name!

      I think she really should've known better than to try and pass it off as her own to be honest and I do think she could've had a book deal to do something a little more relevant to her. I felt a novel was a bit of an odd choice and they could've still cashed in with a style/beauty/whatever coffee table book that she could've put together herself. That way we'd avoid the dreadful novel and the controversy altogether haha

      Completely feel your pain on that one :( good luck! Writing a book is like climbing a mountain, getting a publisher is like realising you're only a third of the way up when you thought you'd done it! xx

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  7. I think celebrity authors have a place in the literacy world, as do the likes of Stephanie Meyer & JRR Tolkein. I think we as a society need a wide variety of literature to engage people at each age & reading ability (as well as topic preferences). I don't know the details surrounding Zoe's book & the use of a ghost writer & haven't read the book, because it doesn't interest me. I went into the book shop on the release date, read the back of the book & put it down as I have no interest in reading a book that loosely based on a person's life. I would prefer to read fiction or non-fiction, not a mashup of the two. How do you know what is or isn't real? It doesn't make sense to me.

    I'd love to write a coffee table book - love them so much! Doubt the opportunity would arise, maybe I should give it a try! Good luck with your writing, you never know what doors your blog may open... Xx

    Tania | whentaniatalks.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. I think a lot of these celebrity books seem to be very similar to their life stories but with the main character having a different name lol I think there's a place for all types of literature in the world; you can enjoy a bit of fluff at the same time as getting stuck into something more serious - I guess it just bothers me that they get a pass into the literary world, which is notoriously difficult for even the most talented of newcomers to crack. It all seems very recycled and predictable!

      And haha thank you - maybe one day! xx

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  8. I've read a lot of posts based on this topic recently, and while they've all been extremely relevant and had me nodding my head, I particularly enjoyed reading your take on the topic. Of course it is difficult to judge how much time and effort each individual spends on their job and daily tasks, but when you're a role model to that many people and have that high expectations, you should want to create a piece of work that is completely honest and inspirational. My personal issue with the matter isn't that, in this case, Zoe had a "little" help with the writing process, it's that she thought she could hide it and make out that it was all her own original work. If she had been honest from the start, nobody would have denied her that bit of help, at the end of the day, even the best of writers require a little back up at times. This was definitely extremely interesting to read, and I loved reading your take on the Tuesday Thoughts series that is also a feature on my own blog!

    Heather, porcelainbeautyx

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    1. Thank you! I'm sure her people played a big part in the cover-up but she has enough sway on her own to stand up and say no to something so blatantly wrong xx

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