I watch beauty videos and I like Zoella. I don’t intend to buy her book. But I’d like to say a few things on the subject.
1. The fact that Zoella (allegedly) used a ghostwriter doesn’t surprise me one bit.
Here’s why. As someone who sincerely tried to write and publish a debut young adult novel when I was Zoella’s age, I can tell you that’s it’s a tremendously huge and difficult undertaking. I entered an entirely unknown world. There are so many things to consider. What narrator do I use? Am I getting the voice of a teenager right? Do I make a detailed plan of my plot in advance or do I make it up as I go? Do I write at home or in a coffee shop (The latter in an attempt to imitate JK Rowling)? I could go on. My point is – if I was a YouTube vlogger sharing most of my day to day experiences with my viewers AND had had achieved the incredible feat of writing my first novel, I’d share a little bit more of the process. Not the process of getting the book deal, because hey, I am Zoella, but the writing. Wouldn’t you? By the way, I don’t like the argument she and her publisher seem to go for, that she understandably needed this level of help because it was her first novel. Did every established author need a ghostwriter for their debut? But that’s just a side note here.
2. The public outcry is as predictable as the fact that there was a ghostwriter in the first place. In other words: Why did no one warn Zoella? Maybe they did. It would be a major failure of her management Gleam digital if they didn’t tell her that this would happen. Yes, Zoe could have had the common sense to anticipate this herself, but isn’t this where older, more experienced people should have stepped in? Where was her normally very level-headed BFF Louise/Sprinkle of Glitter? Maybe someone did warn her, but the lure for success and excitement of having her name on a book was stronger. And success in book sales she got.
The sales of this novel have absolutely nothing to do with the content of the book. They have everything to do with Zoella’s brand. She built that brand herself and is reaping the rewards as lots of celebrities do, via brand extensions.
Thank you Matt Haig (The Guardian), I couldn’t have said it better. What if Zoella had been upfront and said ‘I’ve teamed up with this awesome writer, I came up with the characters and plot and now she is going to write it’? What if the novel had both names on the cover? Would her fans still buy it? I believe so. Yes, she should have been upfront. But – If she offers an honest and heartfelt explanation or even apology now, will there be a twitter-trending outpouring of love from her fans? I guarantee it.