Follow me

PUB 401 – YouTube Creators Expanding Their Personal Brands With Books
November 1, 2016|Uncategorized

PUB 401 – YouTube Creators Expanding Their Personal Brands With Books

As YouTube continues to grow into a global phenomenon, a collection of the website’s greatest stars are expanding their personal brands to writing a book in an attempt to treat their subscribers to something different. Publishers have taken notice and are taking their bets on Youtube stars. YouTubers are more than just niche entertainers with quirky appeal, and can be marketed to a broader audience. An analysis of the huge phenomenon ofYouTubers writing their own books and how it has evolved certain aspects of the publishing industry and the success this new trend in young adults.

YouTube has been a huge phenomenon since it was created in 2005, it has given many YouTube creators -YouTubers – a platform to express anything they want to. Many of theseYouTubers are on every social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SnapChat. Since many of theseYouTubers have a huge following and popularity it was a no brainer that book publishers took notice and started to sign some Youtube as authors and selling their own books. For example, Zoella, the YouTuber star otherwise known as Zoe Sugg is known for her vlogs about her lifestyle and makeup signed with a publisher on a lucrative book deal with Penguin Random House in 2014. Zoella’s inaugural novel, Girl Online became the fastest selling debut in history selling 78,109 copies in the first week, according to The Bookseller. Although many titles built over time through word-of-mouth, Girl Online had the benefit of Sugg’s pre-existing fanbase. She has six million YouTube subscribers, and drew on elements of her own life to write the tale of a schoolgirl blogger who finds love on a trip to New York. Although the Girl Online was a huge success, it came with some controversy when it was revealed that young adults author Siobhan Curran and Penguin UK’s editorial team helped her with the writing, some of Sugg’s massive following were somewhat annoyed that Sugg have not been honest with them about the ghost writer beforehand. According to Kathryn Lindsay, who wrote a piece in Xojane, criticize Sugg and her book, YouTube Culture and literary culture have very little crossover. The only thing common between the two are people whose channels tend to focus on book reviews, book-related tags, attending books events, and content that is solely geared towards the craft of writing as well as the knowledge of what makes it good. Lindsay’s opinion thatYouTubers like Zoe Sugg that have a large following, will always make money on anything she produces. Although she uses YouTube, she thinks it is an entirely different medium that does not transfer to the page. Lindsay brings up a good topic about authorship, Kathleen Fitzpatrick author of Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. In one chapter about authorship, Fitzpatrick thinks that we need to approach authorship from a different perspective in the digital age – the key lying in interaction. She critics the individualistic and solitary approach to writing a book. Even though this piece was aimed of writing scholarly articles, the article has good points on the idea of authorship collaboration. Zoe Sugg is no english major, she probably had anxiety of writing her own novel for the very first time and might had feel lonely and lost. With the collaboration of young adults author Siobhan Curran and Penguin editorial team they were able to produce a vital product for Penguin Random House viable success in the future. Penguin House UK’s chief exec Tom Weldon, commenting on Zoe Sugg’s book, “I think the creative process behind lots of books is quite complex and this book was like that”, meaning that Sugg’s did not write the book by yourself but it was a collaborative process that some critics find very hard to believe. Many of the backlash Sugg got from her book came from a lot of traditional journalists in traditional media that many believe that a book could only be written by one author.

Tom Weldon, the UK head of Penguin Random House, described the discussion of YouTubers books as a one-off, but points to a trend. Publishers need to change the way they spot new talent and engage with younger readers in the smartphone age, according to the Times MediaPublishers are always looking to find the next big thing after a trend of celebrity biographies until 2008. The reality is that books are commodities, not art, they’re aimed at an undiscriminating customer base and they sell well. Philip Jones, the editor of the Bookseller, according to NewStatesman articlesays the YouTubers books fill the vacuum left by celebrity biographies. Although there are many criticisms with YouTubers books, Jones states that the phenomenon has been a saviour for an industry that was struggling. Atria Publishing Group, a division of Simon & Schuster created an imprint, Keyword Press which was launched in 2014 specifically created to publish original, high quality books by the digital world’s most talented and popular stars. Such  authors have sold nearly 700,000 physical books in the United States in 2014, according to data provided to Reuters by Nielsen BookScanYouTubers books are part of a resurgence in reading among kids and millennials that is helping to keep the publishing industry alive.

Undeniably, why would young adults even want to buy YouTubers books when they can get that content free online with videos then spending some cash on books. As Andrew Piper states in the Prologue to his book Book Was There, an overwhelming majority of readers, both casual and committed, will readily say that they prefer to read on paper than on screen. Piper mentions the physical element of reading as an undeniable factor. The words on a screen intuitively feel less real than than those on a page – something about ink on paper makes meaning clearer and reading more enjoyable. Another reason for the sales of YouTubers books are that many subscribers/followers purchase these books to feel closer to an Internet creator they love. But the connection between creator and fan is twofold. Fans want to have a deeper connection to the personalities they love. For most YouTubers, that connection increases their authenticity in the eyes of their fans, which is crucial to longevity and success. Ariele Fredman, publicity manager of Keyword Press, a Simon and Schuster imprint launched in May of 2014 with Hollywood’s United Talent Agency, says that fans not only want to consume videos online, but they also want a tiny piece of that person to live on their bookshelves, according to Mashable article. With the success of Zoe Sugg’s book paved the way of other successful YouTubers to extend their personal brands. For example, Tyler Oakley, a vlogger who has amassed over seven million subscribers, released a book of essays called Binge in October 2015. In an email interview Oakley told Mashable, “whether it’s a serious topic or a hilarious mishap, I finally get to tell my untold stories in a deeper way,” Oakley added. “Storytelling is storytelling regardless of the medium, and of course trying a new format allows the creator and consumer a new way to connect.” Mashable interviewed a seventeen year old girl, Victoria Lin at Stream Con, a digital content conference held at the end of October in New York City. “I think there’s a difference between reading things in your hand and on your phone,” Lin told Mashable. “ The feeling  picking up a book and going through the pages is definitely more real than something digital.” As Andrew Piper states in Book Was There, he introduces ‘touch’ as the most elementary sense. Piper uses the sense of touch to recognize that the physical connection between humans and text is constantly being challenged by new media. The new generation has become reliant upon digital text which provides a stimulation that diminishes the authenticity of the book.

While YouTubers account for only a tiny slice of the billion of books sold annually in the US, they are a growing segment in a publishing industry looking for new ways to make money. These YouTubers also come with convenient built-in marketing, blasting out book updates to their millions of fans and saving publisher valuable marketing dollars in the process that can be spent on more literally titles. The publishing industry has changed with this new trend; however, unlike its replacement trend of celebrity biographies, it is too early to tell whether or not these commodities will help sustain the publishing industry for years to come.



Piper, Andrew. 2012. “Take It and Read”. In Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.



4 coments

  • admin
    November 8, 2016 at 1:36 am

    testing 123

  • Mike N
    November 8, 2016 at 1:41 am

    testing 123

  • Katrina Abel
    November 9, 2016 at 12:00 am

    I thought your paper on “YouTube Creators Expanding their Personal Brands with Books” was an insightful analysis on popular YouTube bloggers and their contribution to a new trend in publishing. The introduction does a great job of letting the reader know the unique ability that YouTube stars have to create platforms for themselves with young adults. I find the most interesting part of YouTube and the ‘stars’ of YouTube is their rise to fame. Beauty bloggers like Zoe Sugg, who started out as a regular teenage girl and soon became a best selling author is an interesting process to study. I really enjoyed your thought process behind using Zoe Sugg as your example of YouTube star, considering she started off with no brand or platform and went on to publish a book with Penguin Random House. I thought that Zoe Sugg’s platform was well researched and her career points highlighted the way that YouTube Stars have influenced the publishing industry. One thing I noticed in your paper was that many milestones were referred to as “huge” successes. I think for next time it would be a good idea to support this with evidence by showing just how successful the book or the author was. This way the reader will have a better understanding of the standard of success these YouTube stars achieve, in case they are unfamiliar with Zoe Sugg or Tyler Oakley.
    I really enjoyed reading this paper and its relation to course material. I thought that Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology and the Future of Academy related perfectly to the themes of this paper. The way the Publishing industry is taking on these YouTube stars and publishing their stories if fascinating because the digital age is constantly challenging itself. I thought there was good use of quotes that were selected which explained “Publishers need to change the way they spot new talent and engage with younger readers in the smartphone age”. I agree with this, considering how well books written by YouTube stars are doing with younger audiences. I was pleased you took the time to explain the publishing industry is making an intelligent move to publish these type of books considering YouTube stars already have a loyal fan base.
    I was surprised to find that there was a lot of backlash from fans who were annoyed with Zoe Sugg after finding out her book was part of a ‘collaborative process’. I find that this collaborative process is common with a majority of YouTube personalities and celebrities who have a story to tell, but may not exactly have the tools to write a best seller. I liked how this paper informed the reader of the obstacles that occur when it comes to selling a book regardless of the platform the author has. I thought that the quote “although there is criticism with YouTube books, the phenomenon has been a savior for an industry that was struggling”, is very informative and cohesively connects the ideas of the paper together. However, I do wish you could have elaborated on this more and let the reader know why the industry was struggling and in what ways books written by YouTube stars have saved the industry?
    You made a valid point when questioning why young adults would want to buy a YouTubers book when they can get that content online? I thought connecting this to Pipers ‘Prologue’ reading was an intelligent way to discuss the preference of reading on paper as opposed to a screen. By using the examples of Zoe Sugg and Tyler Oakley and suggesting their platform of loyal fans want to connect with them on another medium was appropriate evidence to support Piper.

    I really enjoyed reading this paper and am now more knowledgeable on the YouTube world and its influence on the publishing industry. I was interested to learn that fans not only want to consume videos online, but they also want a tiny piece of that person to live on their bookshelves. I did notice a few grammatical errors and at times there were references to words such as ‘Xojane’, which I had to look up because there was no citing or explanation to what it was. For next time I would recommend to elaborate on certain terms instead of assuming the reader knows what your saying. In conclusion, I thought you incorporated relevant course concepts while accurately discussing a trend in publishing that many would not think to be influential.

  • Hannah McGregor
    November 17, 2016 at 5:57 am

    This is an interesting take on an interesting topic; I particularly like how you take a nuanced approach to the rise of YouTube stars as a publishing phenomenon, neither dismissing them as a sign of publishing going to hell nor presenting them as a solution to all of publishing’s problems. At times that nuanced slid into confusion for me. For example, in one paragraph you move from claiming that “storytelling is storytelling” no matter the medium, to explaining that books feel more real than digital text, then shifting into Piper and the value of touch. Some of those links needed to be more clearly articulated for me so that I could follow along with your logic. Similarly, fewer grammar errors would have helped me to better follow the path of your thinking. It’s interesting thinking — but interesting ideas need to be clearly communicated!

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *