Vloggers to Authors?

Shadin Al-Dossari ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

YouTube vloggers writing books has been a trend for a couple of years now. This trend is an interesting crossover between the modern online YouTube community and traditional print books. Many of the YouTubers write exactly how they speak in their videos. Dan Howell and Phil Lester’s The Amazing Book is Not on Fire, is one of the better “YouTube books,” because of their witty banter and personalities come right off the page just as if you were watching one of their videos. It seems that beauty vlogger Zoe Sugg (Zoella) created a snowball effect when she published her book Girl on Online, which is based loosely off her own life. Joe Sugg (ThatcherJoe) took a different route and created a graphic novel called Username: Evie. Both Zoe and her brother, Joe, do something different in that their novels are fiction; they have plots and characters. Zoella, unlike some of the other YouTubers, came under fire when it came out that her novel was ghostwritten. Ghostwriting is when someone is paid to write something – a book, a screenplay, articles, etc. – but receives no official credit for their work.

Photo Credit: Running Press Book Publishers
Photo Credit: Running Press Book Publishers

Generally, most YouTuber’s books consist of advice or anecdotes from their life that they haven’t previously shared in videos: memoirs or autobiographies in a sense. However, other books like Michelle Phan’s Make Up: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success–Online and Off, and Niomi Smart’s Eat Smart: What to Eat in a Day – Every Day, are more specific genre based.

It’s true, YouTubers are easy to market. They’ve already got fanbases in the millions, and they’ve already established a brand for themselves. It’s just that often it is the sheer fact that they have YouTube “celebrity” status that gets their books published. Books like Alfie Deyes’ (PointlessBlogThe Pointless Book, which is modeled after the kind of videos he creates, will get published because publishers know all his loyal subscribers will buy it. His book was criticized for being so similar to Keri Smith’s Wreck this Journal, with some even calling it a rip off.  

Photo Credit: Random House
Photo Credit: Random House

This system is not really fair, especially to the thousands of struggling writers who have spent copious amounts of time working on a book, while YouTubers often don’t dedicate as much time or effort. Think of the struggle J.K. Rowling had to go through before her Harry Potter series got published. Arguably, the works of unknown, unpublished authors have more substance than YouTuber’s books, but they don’t get the same opportunities due to their anonymity. A lot of these YouTubers aren’t writing these books because they have a passion for writing or even a burning desire to write a book, at this point it has become a trend that all YouTubers want to jump on. However, YouTubers who write cookbooks spend more time and work on their books more compared to say, those who write autobiographies. The author’s experience with literature and how that plays into their YouTube videos may also influence how their book is received.

For example, Booktubers tend to have a smaller following compared to other YouTubers since it is a niche community. Booktubers are basically YouTubers that make videos about books and relating topics. Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), an Emerson College student, is a Booktuber who is getting her novel Zenith, which is co-written by Lindsay Cummings (Lindsay Cummings, Author), published next year. Alsberg’s book may be more popular based on the fact that her following is mostly made up of readers. Having a large audience and already being known increases the likelihood of a profitable book.

The success of books written by YouTubers seems to depend on a mixture of content of the book and the support or ‘fanbase’ that the YouTuber has. Generally, the people who tend to pick up books written by YouTubers are their subscribers or people wanting to try out this book trend. So far, readers seem to be buying these sorts of books, and as a result this is not a trend that will be dying in the near future. As new YouTubers get bigger, they will probably want to have a go at being an author.

Some popular novels written by YouTubers include:

A Work in Progress by Connor Franta

In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World by Joey Graceffa

Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up by Grace Helbig

Binge by Tyler Oakley

This Modern Love by Will Derbyshire

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