Have you heard of Zoe Sugg?
This British fashion, beauty, and lifestyle vlogger has earned quite the impressive following. At only 24 years old, she has 2.62 million followers on Twitter and over 6.5 million subscribers on YouTube.
In spite of this success, a lot of writers didn’t know who she was until she released her first book.
Girl Online sold more than 78,000 copies in its first week, breaking records for British book sales and sailing past the previous records set by J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown and E.L. James.
Predictably, the claws have started to come out.
Writers everywhere are smacking their heads against their desks, bemoaning the state of a world that would make this young woman an international bestseller.
We heard much the same when E.L. James, author of the 50 Shades of Grey series, or Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, sold thousands of books.
When someone like heiress Paris Hilton pens a novel and it hits the bestseller list, the cries of protest are heard in writing groups and forums around the world. “But what about the good books who can’t find their audience? What about the quiet literary novelists who can’t find an agent or publisher?”
There’s this perception, you see, that to succeed as a novelist, you have to be an extraordinarily talented writer.
But that’s not true.
That’s what you need (sometimes) to win high-brow awards in literature.
To achieve success at the level of E.L. James, Meyer, or Sugg, you need to write something a lot of people want to read. And that is an art all its own.
As writers, we’re always hearing that books are dying. Brick and mortar bookstores are closing, Amazon is taking over the world, and people have shorter attention spans…blah blah blah.
Sugg’s success proves that people will still read books. And if Girl Online gets more people to read–especially young people–that’s a good thing for every writer.
Maybe they’ll read other books. Maybe Penguin will be able to take a chance on more authors because of its success with Sugg. Maybe Sugg will blurb other writers, or refer them to her agent.
Anything that gets people reading is a good thing.
Maybe Girl Online isn’t an upcoming National Book Award-winner, but why does it have to be? The easiest way to get people to read is to suggest that books are actually–gasp!–FUN. And not everyone wants to feel like they’re in high school English class whenever they crack open a novel.
Some people just want to be entertained. And what’s wrong with that?
If writers like Sugg convince thousands of people that books are a valid form of entertainment, that only helps the rest of us.
How do you feel about writers who achieve monumental success with “light” books? Why do you think people are so harsh when it comes to writers like Sugg? I’d love to hear your views.
It’s recently come to light that a ghostwriter helped Sugg with “Girl Online,” which only heightened the controversy. To this I say, “So what?” Sugg recognized she needed help, just like almost every other celebrity author on the planet.
And James Patterson.
That Sugg’s book sales were so high in the first week speaks to her following, not to the quality of the writing.