Every aspiring author knows how hard it is to get signed by a publisher. Even a little indie publisher is hard to crack. As for the big ones, you’ve got more chance of flying to the moon by jumping off the harbour bridge and vigorously flapping your arms.
Two of the biggest publishers of recent times are Penguin and Random House. A few years ago, I tried to get in and couldn’t get within cooee. It was no surprise. For new authors, cracking the majors is like trying to break into Fort Knox. Since then, Penguin and Random House have merged and become one giant entity, so it’s even harder now!
Still, that is no reason to give up. One must simply reload and charge again. Once more into the breach, and all that – and this time, it may well be different. You see, I just found out I’ve been doing this all wrong. I thought the way to woo these publishing giants was by creating a well-written book with a good plot, characters, humour and originality. I thought it was worth spending thousands of hours on writing, revising and editing. The folly of this approach is now clear to us all – and for this we must thank Zoella.
Zoella, a prodigious young talent of twenty-four, has taken the literary world by storm. She’s succeeded where so many have failed. First she stormed the citadel of Penguin Random House for a two book deal, then sold 78 000 copies of her debut novel in the first week of sale.
Who is Zoella? She’s a vlogger on YouTube. That means she makes video blogs. According to her wiki page, she vlogs about fashion and beauty topics. Well, she must be damn good at it – she’s got about four zillion followers on twitter and a trillion YouTube subscribers. And now she’s an author too. As she writes on the back of her book “My dream has been to write a book, and I can’t believe it’s come true.” You and me both, sister.
I have not read her book, Girl Online, but apparently it is about a 15 year old blogger whose blog goes viral. This “is in no way autobiographical” says Zoella. You’ve got to admire the title, Girl Online. It’s a haunting, evocative phrase which somehow manages to boil the book down to its very essence, which is apparently the story of a girl who goes online.
Even if Girl Online is autobiography, we shouldn’t hold that against Zoella. Young authors are often advised to ‘write what you know.’ But in a surprise twist, it’s just come to light that Zoella did not write the book at all. It was written by a ghost writer named Sioban Curham.
So what? Zoella could hardly be expected to fit novel-writing into her schedule of vlogging about fashion and beauty. It is not Zoella’s job to write books, it is her job to inspire countless young women around the world to know that with a lot of hard work, all their dreams can come true. Even the dream of writing a book and being a bestselling author signed by Penguin Random House.
Although I am not in that demographic myself, perhaps I too may be allowed to draw inspiration from this young author. For I had very nearly given up. I’d all but abandoned my dream of being accepted into the warm corporate bosom of Penguin Random House. Well Goddammit, thanks to Zoella, I’m back on the horse and having another crack at it!
It’ll be different this time. No more the folly of thousands of hours fussing over plot, characterization, language, and all that highbrow rot. I’ve emailed Sioban Curham and asked her to write my next book. She’s yet to reply but no doubt there’s a waiting list. In the meantime, I’ve started my own YouTube video blog called ‘The Power of Dreams’ in which I’ll ruminate daily on male cosmetics, deodorant, and a full range of the latest Prada bum bags.
I love you, Zoella! I love you, humanity! And most of all I love Kerry King’s line out of the song ‘Fictional Reality’ that we live in “a world too shallow to defy!”