Freelancing in the News: Concerning Zoella

Credit - Luke Macgregor / Reuters

Credit – Luke Macgregor / Reuters

Buzzfeed reported on December 8 that YouTuber Zoella‘s book, Girl Online, was ghostwritten.

The news ignited a debate over the use of ghostwriters when the book’s publisher noted that it would be innacurate to say Zoe Sugg wrote the best-selling novel on her own.

In the following days, Ms. Sugg and her boyfriend, Alfie Deyes, have both taken a hiatus from Youtube and vlogging; In the interest of fairness, I should not that whether or not this is related to the ghostwriting flak isn’t entirely clear to me.

I’m a ghostwriter, for those of you who don’t know. I’ve written Making All the Write Moves on behalf of author L. David Harris, for example, and I am the contributing writer behind the interviews at 7 Magic Islands in their blog series, Wizards of Words. I’m sure there are other examples out there as well.

As far as Ms. Sugg choosing to go with a ghostwriter, I can’t and don’t hold that against her (and not just because she could have, theoretically, hired me). I do, however, understand the sentiment that perhaps some of her fans feel betrayed or lied to when the news came out that the writing itself may not have been entirely her own.

There’s a very big difference between ghostwriting and plagiarism. When you plagiarize, you steal the work of those who have written it before you for your own gain and (sometimes) without giving them due credit.

When ghostwriting, someone who wants to tell a particular story  may not have the time or resources to write what they want to say. In that case, they would turn to someone like me, who would write on their behalf. Ms. Sugg said the story and the character therein were entirely hers, but never implicitly stated (at least to my knowledge) that it was all written by her. Talented though she may be in the area of vlogging, she may not be an author. Those are two different skill sets, and I’m glad she found the help she sought to put her story to pages.

I was really pleased to note she mentioned the alleged author, Siobhan Curham, in her acknowledgement, and as a result, Ms. Curham is getting a lot of support from the online community. I, too, have been acknowledged on Making the Write Moves, by first name only in the first edition.

Zoella’s done nothing wrong, and I think the hostility and animosity she’s undeservedly drawn from some corners of the internet is more a matter of misunderstanding than true hatred for alleged plagiarism.

So in the off chance you happen to read this, Ms. Sugg, I hope the hateful comments have passed and you and Alfie can keep on keeping on.

What are your thoughts on ghostwriting? Let me know in the comments below!

Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here!  Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the blog if you like what you see. 

Happy freelancing and we’ll talk again next week!

– Adam


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