So this week the do-da hit the fan when Zoe Sugg aka Zoella was found to have had her book ghostwritten.
Shock, horror, where are the stocks, let’s put her in them and throw rotten fruit at the Vlogger.
But just hang on a minute, put that tomato down.
If you are blissfully unaware who Zoe is you are probably a little bit older than her demographic, those aged roughly between 15 and 25, so you are forgiven. For those of you that don’t know, Zoella is one of a growing breed of young vloggers (video bloggers) who spend their lives, and careers, on YouTube. I hate the word role-model as it’s such an unfair thing to label someone with, but Zoe is an inspiration to teenage girls everywhere, and that can’t be a bad thing can it?
She has over 6.5 million YouTube subscribers, and she is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger. She rarely, if ever, swears on camera, she understands who her viewers are and she has helped a LOT of kids through their teenage years. Ok, a lot of it can seem silly to the more serious adults among us, but this girl runs a very profitable business and has fun doing it.
So what is so bad about having her book ghostwritten?
The recently named ghostwriter will have written with Zoella’s style and presentation in mind (dare we call it her brand?). She will have kept her ‘voice’ and will have worked closely with her to get her message across. This book will have come from Zoe’s own ideas and writing; it’s just that she may have needed help to get her ideas on file to the level of a professional publication.
Is it cheating to want your book to be the best it can be?
It is said that everyone has a story in them, but not everyone has the ability to write clearly, or confidently enough to hold an audience. The depth of the ghostwriting in Zoella’s book is unclear, but the story will have been Zoe’s. Yes, she is popular among the younger demographic, but the audience is there, as can be seen from the huge sales of the book already, and remember folks, publishing is a business. People spend years learning to write; is it so bad that someone whose talent lies in other areas should get help?
Zoe herself made a statement on Twitter before going off-line for a while:
‘Everyone needs help when they try something new’ – well said that girl!
If we didn’t try new things, we wouldn’t know if we could do them. And no-one should be hounded for trying something new. Social Media, and the not-so-social variety, can be incredibly cruel.
You won’t believe the amount of books that are ghostwritten, especially celebrity ones.
Zoe’s ghostwriter is a professional, providing a professional service, which is in wide-spread demand. Ghostwriters do not tend to do the job for the money (it’s very unlikely you’ll get rich ghostwriting), or the glory (very few are actually acknowledged, or want to be acknowledged)… they write because they are good at it, they see a way to help people get their stories out there and they love writing. And to be attacked for doing this is as cruel as it is stupid.
The term ghostwriting can also be a bit of a cover-all… the ghostwriter can be anything from an editorial consultant, there to lend a helping hand, to a full-out novelist with many, many books written as a ghost.
To say that something is ghostwritten can mean many things. The author may have collaborated with a ghostwriter and written with them; the story may have been told to a ghostwriter who transcribed and polished the interview or the ghostwriter may have written to a brief and then continued write the whole damn thing.
Apart from the author not being the best of writers, there are other reasons for a book to be ghosted, and time is one of them. For someone to write a book can take a LOT of time, and with her hectic schedule it is highly unlikely that Zoella could have written the book quickly. There are only so many hours in the day, and any writer will tell you that writing takes time, and writing well takes longer.
There will have been tight deadlines… let’s not beat around the bush here – this book is very likely intended for the Christmas market.
No matter what, what should be important is whether this is a book that will be enjoyed by a lot of people, and the answer to that seems to be yes. It’s already the fastest selling novel of the year. You wouldn’t buy Victoria Beckham’s clothes and expect her to be the one stitching them together, and the same goes for other brands. In this world where many celebrities are becoming brands (with a relatively short shelf-life), they have to take what they can get, and get as much experience, and do as much, as they can. If that involves getting help then so be it. In a world where DJ’s can design fashion collections, where singers can create their own perfume and where reality tv ‘stars’ can do it all, is it really such a crime for a girl to get help fulfilling her dream?