A few thoughts on Zoella, Ghost-writers & Getting Teens to Read

aaZoe Sugg (Zoella) and Penguin seem to have taken a lot of flak over the weekend as rumours (now confirmed) abounded about the use of a ghost-writer to produce Girl Online, the fastest selling début novel ever. I have seen a number of sub-tweets about this in my twitter network, and thought that the furore would die down, but if anything it has grown larger and more frenzied.

I am not totally sure why people seem to be getting more upset than usual; it is not as if ghost-writing is a new phenomenon, even in the YA and Children’s book market; series like Sweet Valley High, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew spring to mind.

The thought of celebrities getting publishing deals because of who they are upsets a lot of people, some of whom may feel that authors should be published on the merits of their manuscripts rather than because of who they are. Publishing is a business much like any other and books are published to make money, authors that do well are groomed and promoted to sell more.

Superstars get publishing deals because publishers know they come with a built-in fan-base, a percentage of whom are almost guaranteed to buy the book, even if they have not purchased (or read many) books before.

As someone who knows absolutely nothing about fashion, beauty and the difficulties of being a young woman I am pretty sure that Zoella is doing something right with her Youtube channel – she has over six million followers that listen to her for a reason.

As a librarian I am less concerned with the perceived iniquities of ghost-writing and more interested in how celebrity books can be used to get young people hooked on reading. Around 78 thousand copies of Girl Online were sold last week – I am sure that a percentage of those went to teenagers who do not often pick up a book through choice. As many librarians, teachers and anyone that works with young people may know, getting teenagers that view reading as a pointless waste of time to read is one of the more Sisyphean tasks that we can face. So when someone that young people look up to attaches their name to a book I will not question its provenance too deeply.

I will celebrate anyone who will get young people enthusiastic about books & reading so I am a BIG fan of Zoe Suggs – more power to her!

So if you had a student or child that read and loved Girl Online by Zoe Suggs and would like to encourage them in their reading pursuits then they may also enjoy:

adorkable
Adorkable by Sara Manning

Jeane Smith’s a blogger, a dreamer, a dare-to-dreamer, a jumble sale queen, CEO of her own lifestyle brand and has half a million followers on twitter.

Michael Lee’s a star of school, stage and playing field. A golden boy in a Jack Wills hoodie.

They have nothing in common but a pair of cheating exes. So why can’t they stop snogging?
white barrier

adEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.

Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and – in Eleanor’s eyes – impossibly cool, Park’s worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by.

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose.
white barrier

addGuitar Girl Sara Manning

Seventeen-year-old Molly Montgomery never planned on becoming famous. Molly’s band, The Hormones, was just supposed to be about mucking around with her best mates, Jane and Tara, and having fun. But when the deliciously dangerous Dean and his friend T join the band, things start happening fast. Soon The Hormones are front-page news, and their debut album is rocketing up the charts. Molly is the force behind the band, but the hazards of fame, first love, screaming fans, and sleazy managers are forcing the newly crowned teen queen of grrl angst close to the edge. Fame never comes for free, and Molly’s about to find out what it costs.
white barrier

adddGeek Girl by Holly Smale

Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.

She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn’t quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she’s spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn’t seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

abFan Girl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

acCode Red Lipstick by Sarah Sky

Models, spies and lipstick gadgets… When Jessica’s father, a former spy, vanishes mysteriously, Jessica takes matters into her own hands. She’s not just a daddy’s girl who’s good at striking a pose; she’s a trained spook who knows how to take on MI6 and beat them at their own game.

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