When I met YouTube star Jim Chapman (1.5m subscribers) it wasn't in the usual circumstances for me. But it was usual for him, as he exited a cinema and was immediately surrounded by a hundred fans clutching notebooks and pens or thrusting their phones at him for selfies. When I sent a letter to Carrie Hope Fletcher (500k subscribers) it wasn't until just over a year later that I got a reply, because she receives so much fan-mail it takes her that long to sift through the letters, cards, and gifts.
But these people haven't been in movies, they're not famous supermodels, and they're not musicians known worldwide. In fact, if you're an adult you probably haven't heard of them, because they're just normal people like us. Except they've used social media to gain fans and launch careers.
YouTube isn't just entertainment anymore. It's a business platform.
As YouTubers become more and more popular, with some having a few million subscribers to their name, they're quickly becoming the best advertisers for brands wanting to influence the vulnerable minds of young adults. YouTube stars are making television appearances, posing at movie premieres, accepting international awards, launching beauty and fashion lines, and...well. The next step seems to be writing books, as famous YouTubers such as Zoella (5m), Grace Helbig (2m), Carrie Fletcher (500k), Michelle Phan (7m) and more are offered publishing deals.
Not long ago it was announced that Carrie Hope Fletcher, who also plays Eponine in Les Mis at the West End, would be writing a book, 'All I Know Now: Wonderings and Reflections on Growing Up Gracefully,' set to be published in May 2015 by Sphere. Around the same time but across the pond, comedy YouTuber Grace Helbig announced her upcoming book, 'Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to be a Grown-Up,' which should hopefully be published in October this year by Touchstone Books. Not forgetting beauty guru Michelle Phan's non-fiction cosmetics guide, 'Make Up Your Life,' published by Harmony Books in October this year.
This brings me to the most recent and more surprising YouTuber book deal. Zoe Sugg aka Zoella has landed a two-book deal with Penguin, with the first to be released in November. But unlike the others, Zoe's books will be fiction. The first, 'Girl Online,' is about a 15-year-old female blogger who suffers panic attacks. As these get worse, her family whisks her away to New York where she falls in love with guitarist Noah.
With book deals being offered to famous YouTubers all over the world, outsiders can only assume these will be a great boost for the publishing industry as each star they take on comes with a pre-made multi-million fan base. Some, however, aren't so happy about it, worrying that their chances of being published have been squashed by these book deals seemingly handed to YouTubers on a plate, some of whom had never before expressed a love of writing.
Personally, I'm very excited that some of my favourite YouTubers are publishing books - especially Zoe's, which I can already relate to a lot and I've only read the summary!
What do you think about this new direction in the bookish industry?