|Zoella, from Wikimedia Commons, |
photograph by Gage Skidmore.
Those of us who have slogged over the years to learn the craft of storytelling might a) chortle at the notion that anyone could actually believe that a young twenty-something can master the art with her first book, in a mere eight weeks or b) go green with envy at the ringing of the tills as Girl Online becomes the highest selling first week sales of a debut novelist of all time.
But think about it. Pretty girl, popular girl = marketing opportunity. A smart editor at Penguin had the idea and followed it through. Celebrity sells. What's not to like? (Ahem – honestly? Only the knowledge I'll never be twenty-something again, and that the seemingly boundless opportunities afforded by social media weren't available when I was?)
But that's just sour grapes. As writers, what we need to do is acknowledge that this is a smart, savvy marketing initiative, tip our hats to the ghostwriter who pulled off the stunt of actually penning a credible and readable 80,000 word YA novel in eight weeks, then sit down and get on with our own writing.
No, we won't sell nearly 80,000 copies in the first week (or might we...? We can still dream!) But we will have crafted something readable, and thoughtful, and polished, that is all our own work and that – hopefully – will connect with our own readership and give pleasure.
I can't get worked up about it. The row about whether Penguin were misleading readers by 'pretending' the book was written by Zoella might rumble on, but if it has made at least some people realise that writing is a skill and a craft that needs to be honed and polished over the years, then I'll be happy.
What do I know about Zoella anyway? Only that she temporarily withdrew from the internet after her legion of Twitter fans turned their wrath on her, claiming that it was 'clouding her brain.' You and me both, Zoe, you and me both.