On Youtubers Writing Books

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.

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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.

This is taken from a comment on Carrie Hope Fletcher’s video announcing her recently released book On the Other Side:

“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.

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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.

Will Darbyshire’s This Modern Love: youtube announcement / goodreads

Carrie Hope Fletcher’s On the Other Side: youtube announcement / goodreads

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars: youtube release day / goodreads

 

What do you think about youtubers becoming authors? Have you read any books by youtubers? Let me know below! And as always, happy Wednesday!

 

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I'm Emma Kath. Welcome to my blog! This is where I post my original book reviews, litstyle (lifestyle for the lit-nerd), and other bookish things. A little about me: I'm Canadian, and currently a student majoring in English lit and cultural studies. I'm an introvert (INFJ, if you believe in that sort of thing), sarcastic to the bone, I love art and history, and hope to one day travel around a bit. Until then, I'll be reading, writing, and trying to spread a little kindness around the internet. If you have any questions or inquiries, feel free to contact me!

12 thoughts on “On Youtubers Writing Books

  1. This was really interesting to read. I do watch a lot of YouTubers, but I’m not that intrigued about books written by them. It’s the same with celebrity books. I trust more in the writing style of regular authors and am afraid to read a book by a person I already love, what if it isn’t good?

    I don’t mind them writing, but I understand people having strong opinions. Like you said, they kind of skip some steps and become published much easier.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is such a polarizing topic for me. I understand both sides of the argument so I don’t really know where I stand. On the one hand, I like to see them branch out creatively because that’s the reason I have a blog. To let my thoughts and ideas flow and some of those ways is through writing about different things. But on the other hand, there are so man authors who just want to be authors who don’t get the opportunity to publish their books for various reasons and here are these people just popping up and getting published. I feel like I’m less bothered when they are non-fiction books. When it’s books that extend their YouTube life and talk more in depth about what they already share. When it’s fiction however, I can’t help but think they’re taking away a spot that could’ve made someone’s dream come true.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a good point about non-fiction books – I watched a youtube video on this that said something like “for vloggers, we basically watch them talk about their lives all the time, so why should we be surprised when they decide to branch out and write a book about their lives?” So in that sense, non-fiction makes sense.

      And I really appreciate what you’ve said about taking away opportunities from authors. I think that’s probably what bothers me the most about it all! Thanks for commenting! 😄

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That quote is exactly why non fiction doesn’t bother me as much, their brand is already selling their lives, now they’re just doing it on a different platform. But fiction books I feel like they’re encroaching on someone else’s spot. I don’t like it at all. Great post!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this post. I’m also conflicted. It’s really hard to say whether YouTubers should be writing books. I suppose an argument could be to branch out creatively, but what if the books aren’t creative at all? It’s such a difficult argument. Great post though xo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a fantastic post, and a topic on which I am so, so conflicted at times. I mean everyone is creative in their own way, and have more than one talent, so why not be a Youtuber and a writer? But the fact that they just skip lines and are more likely to publish because they do videos is kind of weird? Much like celebrities, they get special treatment whereas other talented people have to wish for more luck, I guess. That’s life though haha, so I don’t really know how to feel about all of this. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for writing this! I am fine with the idea of youtubers writing autobiographies, because they must have wild stories to tell, but when it comes to fiction…I’m aware it’s mostly jealousy, but I can’t deny that it stings knowing they have a market and publisher ready! Awesome blog post!

    Liked by 1 person

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