Zoe Sugg may not be a household name, unless you have teenage daughters. The 24 year old amasses millions of views on each video she posts on Youtube and has just published her first book. Girl Online is a YA romance novel and has sold a staggering 78,000 copies in her first week. This has seen her surpass the first Harry Potter and 50 Shades of Grey book in the same period.
Zoe started her YouTube channel in 2009, primarily aimed at beauty tips and fashion advice. She is playful and has a candid approach that is absolutely infectious with her teen audience. Zoe has more than six million YouTube followers, and two million Twitter followers. Recently she took home the Best British Vlogger Award at the 2013 at the BBC Radio 1’s Teen Awards, but also won the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award earlier this year.
When any book sells a ton of copies in a short period of time, there is normally drama that ensues. In Zoe’s case she has been getting a ton of flack from the media about having the book ghost written for her. Penguin, her publisher outsourced the actual writing to Siobhan Curham—an established author of both YA and adult fiction. The three sides sat down over the period of a few weeks and bantered back and fourth about the logistics. The Girl Online Book is not an autobiography, but does borrow heavily from Zoe and her day to day activities.
The young writer has been getting lambasted in the media for failing to explicitly state that she did not write the book alone, despite thanking Curham in the acknowledgments of Girl Online for having been with her “every step of the way”.
Despite the online backlash that erupted against Sugg, Curham had stayed quiet on the controversy. But on Wednesday, Curham posted a defense of both herself and Sugg to her blog. Writing that she had signed on to help Sugg with the book not to become “famous” or “rich,” Curham said that she’d agreed because she loves writing and “helping others write books.” She did, however, note that it wasn’t an entirely enjoyable process, saying “I did have some issues with how the project was managed. Issues which I expressed on more than one occasion. Issues which I’m afraid I’m not allowed to go into. And issues which have nothing to do with Zoe. I’ve seen at first hand how caring and considerate Zoe is. I’ve been very impressed with how she finds ways to use her (completely unexpected) fame to help others, whether that be through her vlogs, blogs, books or becoming a digital ambassador for the mental health charity MIND.”
I honestly think the media is more fixated on the inner workings of the publishing world, than actually talking about the book. It is more interesting to stir up controversy and crucify a young girl for doing what people only dream of, starting a successful business, amassing millions of followers and publishing a book.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.