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14 May 2015, 16:29
The YouTuber Book Boom is gaining massive success, but also growing resentment; and creators need to tread lightly.
It seems oddly convenient that this past year, a large number of YouTubers suddenly realised that their lifelong dream was to write a book. Within the past few months we've seen hugely successful releases from the likes of Connor Franta, Hannah Hart, Grace Helbig and of course Mamrie Hart; not to mention the controversial release of Zoella's first novel.
But while the "YouTuber Book Boom" is still well underway with even more releases coming this year, Evan DeSimone at NewMediaRockstars asks the question: is it over already?
When the massively popular #YouTubeFandomHonestyHour trended on Twitter earlier this week (with people still contributing now), we learned one of many harsh truths: People are kinda bored of YouTubers releasing books.
Evan believes this growing sentiment could spell bad news for the likes of Tyler Oakley and Shay Carl, whose upcoming book releases depend on unrelenting fan hype to succeed. When fans start to believe their passion is being taken advantage of for profit or products, resentment has a habit of spreading quietly.
We've already seen this in the backlash against vlogger Alfie Deyes, when his (now deleted) Twitter diatribe against a "100% unofficial" Alfie and Zoe book caused fans to respond angrily about both his own Pointless Book series being a "rip-off" of Wreck This Journal, and Zoe's novel Girl Online being (at least mostly) ghostwritten.
With this level of dissent in the ranks of someone as widely revered by their fans as Alfie and Zoe, it's easy to imagine that the same feeling can be applied to every YouTuber with a book deal. But the nature of people's issues with Alfie and Zoe's books proves that it's not just the idea of a "YouTuber Book" that's the growing problem; for once, in the debate of the content creator/fan dichotomy, it's about the content.
Hannah Hart's My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut is one part cookbook, one part the same absurdly insightful humour that you can expect from the YouTube series that inspired it. It's on-brand, it's original, and above all, it's self-written; perhaps the only criticism Hannah has received since its release was that she has "gone mainstream".
Hannah's book is proof that it's a lot easier to both make and sell something, when you truly believe in what you're making. Attaching your personality to something that is either not entirely your original content or idea might sell very well in the short term, but lowers the bar and creates a lot of problems for creators who may want to use their YouTube platform to aid them in the success of an actually legitimate writing career.
#youtubefandomhonestyhour I hope when I publish my (original fiction) book one day it won't get lumped into the "books by YouTubers" genre.— Kristina Horner (@KristinaHorner) May 11, 2015
If YouTubers are pulling in such large audience numbers that publishers see them as a goldmine for book sales, they still have a responsibility to use that opportunity as wisely as the first one they had when their channels grew so prominently. We should never discourage anyone from writing, but we should absolutely hold such wide influencers accountable for writing in the name of honesty and passion over profit.