First, it’s always great for a debut author to be given the chance to publish their work. It’s not a chance many are given.
Last week it was reported by multiple outlets that TJ Newman had agreed to a publishing deal for her debut novel and an additional book. It isn’t often that this would be newsworthy. But the difference here is it was a 7 figure book deal. Before a single reader has read a page (the first book is forthcoming) a bidding war began for the right to adapt the debut novel. Not one copy has been sold. Not one review written. But an unproven author gets this kind of money and media treatment. My curiosity took over. I looked her up on Twitter. Less than a thousand followers, so no one can say she has a large following expected to increase sales.
When reading about the author it made me wonder if any of this happens for the same person who is Black or Hispanic. I think we know the answer. Publishing has been one of the slowest institutions to improve diversity among its ranks. It’s great that this author will experience the joy of her books being published. The idea of an unknown and unproven author getting this type of publishing deal just doesn’t make much sense. But what do I know?
You need to know two things before reading on to have any idea what I’m talking about. First, Zoella is a very popular YouTuber. Second, her novel Girl Online had the best opening sales week ever for a debut novel in the UK. It was just released at the end of November.
Okay. If you don’t know what the fuss is about, well that’s what I’m here for. I’ve read blog post after blog post and article after article criticizing Zoella for her book. Why are all these people criticizing her? Because she used a ghostwriter. See, I have a theory. The criticism she’s getting really has nothing to do with that fact, though she had to release a statement on Twitter admitting that she had help. No. I think UK readers have issue with the fact that her book has outdone JK Rowling in some way. Because this young online star is somehow unworthy of selling a lot of books. What bullshit.
Just about every article I’ve read mentions JK Rowling. “Zoella outsells even JK Rowling and Harry Potter” or “This 24-year-old has best debut sales week ever in UK; besting JK Rowling.”
I know some people have issue with the use of ghostwriters. That’s fine. But why is this girl somehow being treated differently than other “authors” who have used them in the past? Oh. Because she sold a lot of books. The funny thing is that readers really have no idea how many authors actually use ghostwriters. No idea at all. Because some publishers and authors are a lot more open about that fact than others.
Lastly, I have no issue with her great opening sales week. As a matter of fact, I think she should be congratulated. I mean, she has more than six million YouTube subscribers. Did you think that she would release a book that didn’t sell well? Come on. JK Rowling was a debut author. Zoella is a debut author with millions of fans and followers. I’m quite certain that the author of the Harry Potter series is perfectly fine with not having the record for most sales in the opening week for a debut novel. (If she ever had it in the first place.)
So everyone needs to calm down about all this. Zoella has built up a brand of herself over the last few years on the internet. And now she gets criticized for wanting to write a book. No. I’m not a fan of celebrities “writing” books, but this girl is getting way too much negativity thrown her way when she’s doing something that so many celebrities have already done before her. She’s not even the first YouTuber to release a book. Just stop.
You can check out Girl Online here.
You can check out Zoella’s YouTube channel here.