#TrendThursday | How helpful are figures like Zoella for the publishing industry?

#TrendThursday | How helpful are figures like Zoella for the publishing industry?

This week’s topic is focusing on the pros and cons of having popular YouTubers and social media people releasing books.

The top 6 reviews of Girl Online by Zoella (Zoe Sugg) are all rated 1 or 2 stars, in fact 9 out of the top 10 reviews were rated as such. However, the top review didn’t even read the book, they just wanted to rant about the fact that a popular YouTuber got a book deal because the fangirls and boys would read the book to satisfy their thirst for more information about her. But to be fair to her, quite a lot of the 5 star reviews are from fans that have given their rating before the book was even published as they put posts like “so excited for this!”, “I love Zoella!” and other similar reviews. 

To make matters worse was the fact that the ghost writer of the book (yes that’s right Zoe didn’t even write the book), wasn’t even credited in the beginning, it took a while for that to come out. The most common theme to come out of the book was the fact that it came across as a fan-fiction about herself, with cliches, instalove and it was poorly written…yet it beat J. K. Rowling’s debut week sales record?!

Is this helpful for the publishing industry? 

NO. This will lead the data analysts, industry experts and sales team to suggest that more of these books should be written and published as the teen fans of this new generation of celebrity will gobble it up no matter how bad the book is. With this trend of social media showing no signs of abating, we will continue to see these poorly written books to fill shelves at bookstores and Amazon lists as fans continue to read what their favourite social media has written, many will love it regardless of the story or the writing. Brooklyn Beckham, not one to have things put on a plate for him (football trials at Britain’s biggest clubs, modelling contracts, appearances in music videos), is releasing a photography book this year! Basically it will be a glorified version of his Instagram account, with arty, perspective, black and white and other photos that are unique and stylish. Yet rather than appreciating those photos for free on Instagram, you’ll have to a tenner for the privilege. It is pretty obvious that he has only got a book deal because of his parents’ position- there are I am sure plenty of photographers that take wonderful photos worthy of a book deal, but again, the commercial thinking of people in publishing want to milk money from fans of a social media celebrity. This trend is disturbing.


YES. Simply because it gets people that wouldn’t otherwise be reading to read a book. Zoella appeals to young girls and she talks about issues that she has had to deal with, perhaps by having her writing them into a book that a fan will read will help somewhat? Reading through the (positive) reviews on Goodreads, it seems like they enjoyed the inclusion of panic attacks and other mental aspects, the relatable aspects that are given coverage are helpful for the many young girls that feel the same.

Here’s a quote from one such review:

“I think it probably goes without saying that Girl Online hit a little close to home for me. I mean the protagonist is a teenage Brit who suffers from anxiety, has next to no self esteem, is incapable of talking to members of the opposite sex and blogs. I mean honestly, if my name was in the dictionary that would be  it’s definition.”- Tabatha (tiggernator)

Simply by writing about such issues like mental health, esteem levels or insecurity is reason enough alone for social media celebrities to write books. They are writing from personal experience and their stories will be of great interest to many, and by writing and reading these stories the stigma surrounding such issues is lessened, and a part of that is down to these celebrities making their voices heard to their fans through social media, YouTube and indeed books!


What do you think to social media celebrities getting book deals? Are such books good for the publishing industry?


Next week’s topic | How relatable are the 15, 16, 17 year old protagonists in YA literature? 

Everyone is welcome to do a blog post about this! 🙂


The Humpo Show – Richard

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4 thoughts on “#TrendThursday | How helpful are figures like Zoella for the publishing industry?

  1. Excellent discussion post Richard! You bring out many interesting points. I actually read book 1 of this series of 3 books and Girl Online is actually a great read. I rated 5 stars because the read is fun and sweet. I don’t think it’s poorly written at all. I do noticed the trend of celebrities having books published but it’s the reader’s choice to read. I’m sure wherever money can be made, everyone would jump to the chance. Look at Lego, they have books, movies, clothes, toys, theme parks, etc. Youtubers have to spread themselves too if they are popular and maybe some books are poorly written but Girl Online is not to me. Books shouldn’t be reserved for just writers who went to school to become writers. If people have the natural talent then they should go for it 😊

    • Thanks for your thoughts Jasmine! I’ve not read the book personally, I’ve just gone off reviews from Goodreads and Amazon to get a general consensus of the writing. I’ve just interned at PRH, the publisher behind Girl Online, and one of my daily tasks was to update figures for a selection of books, and the books with the most attention were the newly released LEGO books! If an author, brand or celebrity is popular, the publisher will look to make the most of the demand. James Patterson, is a great example of quantity over quality, as he and his publisher make the most of their market. By co-authoring books, he can publish multiple books a year, make more money, but the quality of the book will not be close to his earlier books that he was truly passionate about. I’m just a little annoyed that publishing is becoming such a numbers game, whether it is a YouTuber or an experienced author that is making the most of their standing. I’d love for debut authors that have produced brilliant work to be given a chance. They could be the next Aveyard, Bardugo or Maas…

      • You know, I did wondered about James Patterson and Nora Roberts.. I haven’t read any books by either authors, but have noticed so many books in their name. I thought, how in the world do they have time to write so many books?! So you are saying that there are ghost writers that helped these authors to write more books in their names? Congrats on your internship. That’s pretty cool. Aveyard, Bardugo or Maas are getting the attention.. I’m giving them some 🙂 At least I’m reading their books rather than just reading their names like James Patterson 🙂

      • Debut authors and those that don’t have large fan bases write a novel, and Patterson gives a helping hand to the book through his own ideas and editing (I think!) and the book is published with his name first to help it sell well.
        Those 3 are getting attention, but I always wonder about the authors that don’t get the attention or even get published. Rowling was turned down about 37 times before being published, it makes me wonder what if she gave up after the 36th…
        Keep reading them! 🙂
        Thanks for your thoughts again. 😀

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