Ghost Writers

To begin with, what you are about to read are my thoughts. It does not mean that I only feel that my opinions are correct or are better. I want to just write down some of my thoughts and feelings about the situation.

Everyone knows the news that is floating around about YouTuber Zoe Sugg’s book. Upon the release of the book, the sales sky-rocketed to the point where it overtook the first sales of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter book. However, there was a lot of speculation about whether or not Zoe herself wrote the book. Many people started to question why Zoe thanked Siobhan Curham (as well as her editor) for being there for the whole journey. No one could figure out what Siobhan Curham’s role was in Zoe’s process and many people started to question her writing. Long story short, in an article that appeared in The Telegraph, which came out on Sunday 7th December, Penguin did confirm that Sugg did have a ghost writer.

At the very beginning, I was wary of the fact that Penguin had approached YouTubers to release books. I had recently read an article that this was a new campaign that they started to help younger people to read. Alfie Deyes released his book, The Pointless Book, which, in my opinion, was another form of Wreck This Journal. A few more months later, Zoe Sugg’s novel was hitting the shelves. This book was whipped off the shelves as soon as it was put on. I am not at all surprised by the response because her fanbase comes by the mass. She achieved something amazing and I think that would be any author’s dream …

Yet, there’s the issue. It’s not fully her book. Her debut novel was ghostwritten. The first thing that hit me as most surprising was the fact that I heard from others who watched her videos, that she did talk about wanting to write a book since she was little. I am a non-viewer of Zoella, as my interests in beauty and fashion are small, but I did go over to her channel to check up on updates with her book when I heard this. She was genuinely excited for her book release.

So why have a ghostwriter? This was the most confusing factor of some of my thoughts when I heard this news. I have no problem with a ghostwriter for an autobiography because here it is mostly and mainly stating facts, like a documentary. You want to express and show your life in a way that readers understand. I think that as soon as it hits the fiction area, that’s where I become a little puzzled. I like to think that in a sense there is no wrong or right way of writing fiction. It’s made up. For our interpretation. It’s an art form. Express the way you write through another character, be able to tell a story the way you wish to tell it. Sometimes I think that people are so wrapped up in the idea of selling books that they don’t stand back and think about what they are. Personally, and you can disagree, people write books for themselves. It can be wild and crazy but as long as the writer is happy, that is what matters. If we all wanted to write the same book, book shopping would become a bore.

If you put out a fictional book, you should write it. You can have a character, you can have a story, but not writing it doesn’t make it your novel. The amount of work, as well as the padding out that would then create a book, the situations which are weaved into a novel, the writer’s blocks, that’s what creates the novel. The detail within it, creates a novel. It has yet to be confirmed how much Curham wrote, however I am presuming she wrote the whole thing, which would make it her book.

Authors spend days, months and possibly years and years and years to get their stories perfect. To produce something that they think is their best work. Gaining the attention for that book is even more tough than just writing a book and in some cases the best books are always the unnoticed ones. From the sounds of it, Zoe did not have such a stressful time. Curham wrote a blog post a while back about having to write a 80,000 word book in six weeks. This post was later taken down upon the moment after Sugg announced she was writing a book. Something fishy was happening. But as well as this, fans were going to the shops and buying Girl Online thinking they were taking a piece of Zoe away with them. Not exactly true. In many ways, I am not angry at those fans. I would of done the same if it one of my favourite celebrities wrote a book. No one knew. The most upsetting thing is that Siobhan Curham didn’t get the instant credit that she deserved as the author. A simple “thank you” seemed to be the only thing that was enough. Curham should of been credited on the cover of the book.

As said above, technically we don’t know Sugg’s input, however I doubt they were writing the book completely side by side. I think a way of tackling this would of been stating the book was written by Curham, then leading to say “ideas set upon Sugg’s character” – or something with better wording, but like that. Which is actually what Hilary Duff did with her series, Elixir, as it states she writes with Elise Allen.’

And even so I doubt that this would affect the sales. Katie Price was open about having a ‘ghostwriter’ and this did not at all affect her sales, which is also the same case for Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s City of Indra.  As a fan of many other actors, authors, artists etc., I know that that wouldn’t stop me from buying a book they created or had some sort of input in. It’s the idea of having something that that person took their time to give to us. But I would rather the piece be released truthfully rather than hidden away.

I know another YouTuber, Tanya Burr, has a novel coming out next year (I think?) and I hope that Penguin hasn’t given her the same treatment.

I would love to hear everyone else’s thoughts about this. What were your first thoughts when this came out?

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2 thoughts on “Ghost Writers

  1. I’m honestly meh about the whole situation but I was genuinely excited to read your piece on this one. And I’m so glad that you decided to post it after all. I’m not a person who watches Zoella. Personal choice. I watch a heap of beauty vloggers but her videos just don’t interest me. That being said, like you, I did pop over to see how she was taking the book process and all, just because I was curious about the fact that book deals were now a thing with “youtube celebrities”. And you’re right. She genuinely seemed excited. I would, like you, prefer the name of the “ghostwriter” on the cover, just because I appreciate transparency. BUT even then, it would never compel me to read the actual book, just be cause the synopsis does, in no way, win me over. However, as a reader, as the audience funding this escapade, I’d just like the honesty. And this has left me weary, because was this not a two book deal? Fabulous piece, Sabrina.

  2. I really enjoyed this piece and I agree with you. It’s the dishonesty that is what I have a problem with – people are being tricked into thinking she wrote everything. To be fair to Zoe, I don’t think that’s her fault either, I believe her publishers, agents etc are to blame her.
    People WILL buy anything with her name on it, so there’s no reason why fans wouldn’t have bought it with Siobhan’s name on the cover alongside Zoe’s.

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