Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Zoella, the ghostwriter and the needle in the YouTube bubble

zoella ghostwriter girl online

The problem with putting your life online for the world to see, is that you’re opening yourself up to scrutiny from every angle on every aspect, every up, down, personal achievement and milestone. You’re inviting people you have never, and possible will never meet to come and comment on your life. Sure, it might only be a blog post here and there, maybe even a few tweets or a short 20minute round up video of what you’ve gotten up to today - and as much as you might invite in love and positivity, the door is left wide open for the trolls to roll right on in. 

The thing is, as much as we might know this now, the big YouTube stars of today didn’t have that kind of advice laid out before them when they started out. Go back a few years, before we eagerly awaited daily vlogging updates to fulfil vlogmas requirements, they didn’t know what they where doing, and in no way could any have predicted where they would be just a few short years and a couple of hundred videos later.

The naivety of these vloggers and bloggers and what’s starting to look like piss poor management are finally starting to turn the cracks into something bigger, something that needs to be tread across lightly or the floor will simply fall out from under them - and will these media management teams be there to catch these kids when they fall? It seems to me they’ve latched on like money sucking leeches to these kids and exploited them on every level, squeezing out every last penny from the pockets of the teen fans parents. Sure, you could say maybe these vloggers and bloggers should know better, but where were they suppose to go to learn all this before their overnight success? It’s hardly like they could ask there parents about what social media was like back in the old days.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about Zoe Sugg and her ghostwritten novel and the criticism she is facing is, though expected, just downright disgusting. I’m in no way one of these teen team Zoella fangirls, but she is someone I have followed online for a long time now, and what started out as a young girl making videos in her bedroom in her spare time has turned into something nobody could have ever predicted.

A ghostwriter is someone who writes books, articles, reports and other word-using paraphernalia that has someone else's name on. That being said, a ghostwriter can and will use the ideas and input of the ‘named author’ in the work. Long story short, if you tell me a story because you can’t write it yourself, I will write it for you and stick your name on it - you become the credited author and I’m the ghostwriter - I wrote it but my name doesn’t get to go on the cover. That doesn’t necessarily mean the named author hasn’t wrote any of the book, but anything they have wrote, as a ghostwriter, I would be entitled to edit and/or re-write. 

The big problem everyone is having with this is because she has been marketed as someone who is wholesome, authentic and genuine, coming out and saying she didn’t write the book totally alone, has tarnished that image. Her authentic girl next door image has been replaced with that of someone whose name is worth more than anything she could produce on her own. Imagine that, your name actually being worth more than you. 

She’s a young woman who picked up a following that seemed to reproduce symbiotically overnight and thrust her out to the media wolves. Let’s think about this for a minute. If you’re a vlogger or blogger yourself, no matter how big or small your following, how would you have handled that? As much as we say we want our channels and online outlets to grow and become something, could we handle it on a Zoella level? I’ll get my rock ready now, just incase that day ever comes.

Have you ever tried to write a book? Take it from someone who has a Masters in creative writing, it’s not easy, not east at all. I’m not saying Zoe couldn’t write a book, and who knows how much of Girl Online is actually her own words, but, should the fact that she had to have a little help be frowned upon? Of course not, why do you think publishers have editors and editorial assistants? They’re not there to make the coffee! 

Who can really blame her for going offline for a couple of days to try and figure out how to get her head around this media mess? From where I’m sitting, it’s not being handled very well by her so called management team. She was always going to come under fire for that book, no matter how good or not so it might be (note, I haven’t read it yet). What it boils down to is this, she has been placed upon this pedestal and from now until however or if, her YouTube fame fizzles out and ends, she was consistently come under fire, and I worry she, and others who have or will, ultimately find themselves in her position, won’t get the help they need - because nobody knows how to help them

Should she be punished for having assistance with writing her book? No. Should she have mentioned all along that she was receiving help with the book? She did. Sure the announcement about the book came out coincidentally close to the launch date - but these management companies have these kids by the throat and it scares me to think how much content in their videos is at all genuine and not scripted by a media company behind the scenes these days. Yes, the ASA have got off their backsides and have said sponsorship needs to be made clear from now on, but scripting and sponsoring are two different things.

Personally, I feel sorry for Zoe, but we need to start learning lessons from all of this. The YouTube bubble is dangerously close to breaking point and if you ask me, it’s all going to end in tears. I don’t want that, I don’t want that for any vlogger or blogger. I love blogging, I love having my own space online, writing, creating content and meeting some amazingly wonderful people. Blogging has opened up so many amazing doors for me; and I’m still only paddling in the vast social media sea. For those who are far out beyond the horizon, I hope someone out there is throwing you a life vest.


Until next time,

((Image source and credit goes to Zoe Sugg))


  1. It just makes me wonder if she was told to act like she had wrote it all. Alfie defended her on twitter and said he was with her when she wrote it, which just makes it seem worse. I feel sorry for her, it would have been better if she had said she had help with it, but you never know if she was told to lie about it! She's taken time off youtube for now, which is a pity because I enjoy watching her vlogmas, even if she is sickly sweet!

    Corinne x

    1. I imagine she's been told to act like that, I mean if she had said in the beginning; 'Oh there's going to be a book with my name on...technically I'm not writing it, but I'll be the name on the cover' she might not have sold as many copies! It just seems like it's all about making as much £££ from these YouTubers as brands these days than anything else, it's pretty sad in my opinion! It's a shame all of this has driven her out of the YouTube sphere, I'm sure she'll be back this side of Christmas but things are changing in the YouTube world rapidly, this time next year I imagine it'll all be VERY different!

      Sarah :)

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