What do Shane Dawson, Grace, Helbig, Justine Ezarik (iJustine), Connor Franta, Shay Butler, Joey Graceffa, and Hannah and Mamrie Hart have in common? Aside from being successful YouTube stars, they all have book deals/books in the works.
Shane Dawson, Justine Ezarik, Connor Franta, Joey Graceffa and Shay Butler have deals with Simon and Schuster who are looking to expand their reach by recruiting internet entertainers to provide content. Simon and Schuster will be releasing books under the imprint of Keywords Press, which aims to release six to ten titles a year in digital and print formats. The content Keywords Press aims to provide seems to offer lots of variety. There will be fiction, non fiction, advice, memoirs and serious and comedic works.
Although reaching out to YouTubers and other internet stars for content is a promising idea for Simon and Schuster and other publishers, one has to wonder how big the payoff will be. Harley Morenstein and the Epic Meal Time crew released a cook book to lukewarm reception, while John Green (who was already an established author) hit it big with The Fault in Our Stars. Will the other YouTubers fail or will they triumph? Will this turn into Draw My Life: Book Edition?
Judging from this article from the New York Times and listening to some of the announcements first hand, the quality and content of these books have yet to be seen. Grace Helbig’s book seems to be life advice filled with personal anecdotes.It’s unclear what Shane Dawson’s or iJustine’s books will be about, but Shane wants to take an interactive approach and get his viewers involved. Getting viewers involved is something that Keystrokes Press wants to get behind as well and plans to make it a staple part of developing its books.
It’s hard to pass judgement on this trend. If reality TV stars and other celebrities can get books deals, why can’t YouTubers? Being a YouTube star has become a legitimate career option for many people. Some YouTubers have expressed interest in writing books for some time now and are good writers so for them this a welcomed triumph. Ultimately, it may just be a fad. Something that will go away just as quickly as it came.
But, it’s easy to see why some authors and readers are upset by this news. Some authors work their asses off and NEVER get offered a book deal while some of the YouTubers mentioned have never expressed an interest in writing a book or reading and get handed a deal without having to put any of the time or effort to get it. The quality and the subject matter of the books probably won’t even matter. Their fan bases are large and dedicated enough to have their works fly off the shelves.
As a writer, I’m torn. It sucks that these books could be dribble and make a best seller’s list, while other amazing works are passed over time after time. But how can I judge something that I haven’t read or seen a preview for? As long as people are reading SOMETHING and buying books, I should be happy. And hey, it probably’s just a fad.
What do you guys think of this new YouTube book frenzy? Let me know in the comments below!