I don’t watch Youtube nearly as much as some people I know (read: my brother) but I have been following a few youtubers for a while. One of them, Will Darbyshire, recently announced the release of a book he’s written/curated called This Modern Love, and it made me start to wonder.
I know this is a topic of much debate between the Youtube community and book community – and for good reason. Youtube has over a billion users, and the advertising opportunities for creators have made the simple act of making videos into a kind of unorthodox job, and one that can easily reach upward of six figures.
A career as a writer is a different can of worms altogether. More often than not, it’s an uphill battle to get your writing recognized, invested in, and then you still have to find your audience.
And sure, youtubers usually start from the bottom as well, but these days, I think it’s fair to say that people are more likely to watch short, consistently posted videos than spend hours reading a book. I’m certainly not one of those people, but I can empathize with the accessibility and convenience of it.
So what’s the debate about popular Youtubers writing books?
I think most of it boils down to the feeling that they seem to get to skip all the nitty gritty aspects of being a writer. They already have the audience (which is in part why publishers approach them), and it doesn’t seem like they really have to prove themselves as writers in order to get their writing published.
“I’m really conflicted because I felt like this is you contributing to the cheapening of the integrity of books and the writing process – it also feels like you’re manipulating the system, as well as compromising your own integrity for a quick fortune…As someone with a book writer in the family, I totally appreciate/understand the process that writing takes, from the initial idea, to the first draft, to the re-write, to the revisions and then to the seemingly endless list of publisher rejection letters that come with it.”
I’ve been following Carrie on Youtube for a few years now (she also has hair just as curly as mine!!), and I know she is genuinely a book lover – she’s hosted her own book club, made videos of book shelf tours, and raved about books long before she ever wrote one. For a while, a lot of her videos were filmed in front of her extensive bookshelves.
But I do agree with the commenter about the power that popular youtubers have to ‘manipulate’ the process of becoming an author. They get to skip the rejection letters and go straight to the front of the line, just as celebrities do when they decide to write books.
Candice has a really good video on this:
On the other hand, Youtube as a platform attracts such creative people. And creative people are usually talented in more than one way. There can be any number of combinations – youtubers who are also musicians, photographers, visual artists, and yes, writers.
And it doesn’t mean all youtubers are youtubers before they’re writers either. John Green, one half of Vlogbrothers, a channel I’ve been watching for years, was an author long before he was a youtuber, and both he and his brother Hank make videos about just about everything under the sky.
So sure, some youtubers probably shouldn’t be writing books, but that doesn’t mean none of them should. I’d like to believe that the youtubers I support who are also writers are doing it because it makes them happy, and because they have a story to tell.
What do you think about youtubers becoming authors? Have you read any books by youtubers? Let me know below! And as always, happy Wednesday!