Thoughts on a YouTube sensation

Let’s talk about Zoe Sugg, the YouTube sensation turned author.

This girl has caused some arguments. I tried to make my case and have an interesting debate about her with someone who didn’t agree with me, and that person stormed out of the conversation and hasn’t spoken to me since. What’s that all about?

These are my thoughts. You don’t have to agree, I’m not forcing them on you and you can click away if I annoy you, but I’m entitled to my opinion as is everyone else.

In my line of work (I’m assistant to a children’s book agent), news of David Walliams and the new Wimpy Kid selling tens of thousands of copies a week can be rather galling. On Tuesday, when the news came in that Zoe’s book had sold 78,000 copies in its first week, we were stunned. 78,000 copies is an obscene amount. No one has sold that many in a week, not even JK Rowling. So yes, we and a lot of other people were stunned by this news.

And then it got depressing.

See, there are so many authors out there who have toiled over book after book after book and who have never and may never reach the level Zoe is on. It just seems so incredibly unfair that someone who has never written a book before can just waltz in and smash all records, basically because she has millions of followers who are desperate to buy her book. The most depressing thing is all the help she’s getting.

She doesn’t need the support of bookshops and advertisements and posters. All you have to do is put her book on a shelf and wait – it will go. She’s quite honestly the last person who needs publicity support and yet it’s all going on her. Why not support those authors who don’t have hugely successful YouTube channels and millions of followers? Why not put them in the limelight? They’re the ones who need it, and yet it happens time and time again. Girl Online sells itself just by having Zoe’s name attached to it. Other books don’t and they do need the time and posters and bookshops behind them or their chances of getting noticed are so slim.

So yes, I find this all incredibly annoying.

UPDATED – There are two counterarguments that I can’t, and won’t ever, contest and they are if Zoe’s book is getting kids who wouldn’t normally read reading and keeping bookshops in business, then that’s great. And it will always be great. I hope they discover the joy that is reading through Girl Online and I hope it gives bookshops the boost they may need.


6 thoughts on “Thoughts on a YouTube sensation

  1. I’m still torn over the larger issue!

    But with reference to publicity- it’s often more for the retailers than Zoe herself! If she does a signing at Waterstones, it means hundreds will buy the book there rather than at Tesco/Asda! This brings key revenue to book shops so that they can support other titles! And anything that keeps book shops in business makes me happy!


  2. What about the message she pushes to teen girls about image? I have hardly watched her videos and know nothing about her book, but isn’t her message all about layers of makeup to make yourself attractive? Hardly something pubescent girls need thrust in their face more.

    If I am vastly mistaken on what she’s about, do tell me.


  3. Saw this story this morning. I was thinking “really? more than J.K Rowling. I doubt that.” Didn’t believe it. Still hard to believe. I’m just wondering how far it will go . . . if it’s good and others not knowing who she is start purchasing it.


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