YouTube Stars Become Authors

Social media has created a new crop of “celebrity” authors.

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 1.04.47 PMFirst there were the blogger books, hits like Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, a title born out of Perelman’s blog that went on to win the IACP Julia Child First Book Award and to be named as one of Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 1.05.29 PMCooking Light magazine’s Top 100 Cookbooks of the Last 25 YearsJulie and Julia by Julie Powell started life as the successful Julie/Julia Project blog, and was then adapted as a movie starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton, garnered extended and glowing attention and hit best seller lists.

YouTube is the new celebrity petrie dish. Once strictly a platform, after seeing many of its top stars poached, YouTube recently announced it will become a producer. Publishers have also come calling with book contracts. Always alert to trends, the Atria division of Simon and Schuster, launched a new imprint last year, Keywords Press, to focus on digital stars, a story that was covered by The New York Times.

Hot names include Shane Dawson, Connon Franta, Joey Graceffa, Hannah Hart, Paige McKenzie, Zoe Sugg (Zoella), Miranda Sings, and Mamrie Hart, each of whom has a staggering number of followers and can make a book race up the Amazon sales rankings just by posting videos urging their fans to order in advance.

Franta  Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 12.48.27 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 12.49.12 PM

Franta’s A Work in Progress (S&S/Atria/Keywords Press; OverDrive Sample), Hannah Hart’s My Drunk Kitchen (HarperCollins/Dey Street; OverDrive Sample), and Mamrie Hart’s You Deserve a Drink (Penguin/Plume; OverDrive Sample) have all been the top selling books in their categories on Amazon.

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 12.50.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-05-31 at 12.50.50 PMJoey Graceffa has won two Teen Choice awards for his online-video programming. With YouTube’s backing he is set to create a “murder-mystery reality series.” He recently released In Real Life (S&S/Atria/Keywords Press; OverDrive Sample).

Shane Dawson’s YouTube show, also a Teen Choice winner, led to his competing in the Starz original series The Chair, which pits two directors against each other to create a movie from the same script. Viewers voted Dawson the winner. He recently published  I Hate Myselfie (S&S/Atria/Keywords Press; OverDrive Sample), which hit the top thirty in Amazon’s sales rankings.

With a built-in PR force of millions of followers, publishers are eager to help these YouTube stars extend their brands into old media as well as new, as Publishers Weekly reports.

However, library ordering and holds do not yet reflect this enthusiasm. It may be a while before these new stars follow the paths of Perelman and Stanton.

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