Girl On-Lie: Zoella’s Ghost-Written Debut Novel

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Zoella's debut novel Girl Online has become the fastest-selling novel since records began - Luke MacGregor
Zoella’s debut novel Girl Online has become the fastest-selling novel since records began – Luke MacGregor

It’s a well-known fact that the Twittersphere loves some good controversy, so when news broke in December that famous beauty blogger Zoella (real name Zoe Sugg) had used a ghostwriter for her debut novel ‘Girl Online’, it created a pretty explosive reaction. It’s not unusual for celebrities to use a ghostwriter to pen their works; Katie Price made it clear from the outset that her novel series wasn’t actually written by her, but Zoella came under so much fire because she had lied to her fans by repeatedly stating that she was writing ‘Girl Online’ herself.

The book sold 78,000 copies in its first week, making it the fastest-selling debut novel in history, but a spokesperson at Penguin eventually admitted, after much speculation, that “to be factually accurate, you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own”. It turns out that novelist Siobhan Curham was the true author of the book, and whilst some fans were quick to defend Zoella, many were incensed by the news. Had she admitted from the beginning that she was using a ghostwriter, then I don’t think people would have minded. However, she tweeted about how much she was loving writing her first book, she ensured fans that it was all her own work, and then hastily back-tracked once the ghost writer story was revealed.

As a fellow beauty blogger, I was disappointed by Sugg’s actions. People look up to her as an example of the power of online notoriety and I admire her self-motivated rise to fame; I just wish she hadn’t tarnished it by selling out in this manner. Putting your name on the cover of a book that you didn’t write and failing to sufficiently acknowledge the true author is simply dishonest. It seems very much that, keen to cash-in on Zoella’s huge popularity, Penguin were eager to churn out a teen novel, slap her name on the front, and then sit back and wait for the sales to pour in. This is a very poor message to send out to young, aspiring writers who would give their right arm to have Penguin print their debut novel, showing that fame is often valued above talent when it comes to getting published.

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