‘Social talent’

A recent article in the Guardian inspired me two write a blog post about the future of publishing with regards to YouTubers. For those who are unsure, a ‘YouTuber’ is really anyone who uses or publishes videos on YouTube, but the label now mainly seems to refer to the stars of YouTube – Zoe Sugg, Alfie Deyes, and Tyler Oakley to name a few.

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Dominic Smales, who manages some of these internet sensations, describes the new breed of celebrity as ‘Social Talent’. It seems as though the skill of the YouTubers lies in their ability to market and advertise themselves through social media. Often their most popular videos are vlogs (video blogs) of what they have got up to that day. Zoe Sugg’s video ‘Exploring In The Attic’, in which she shows her viewers examples of old school work and photos of her as a young child while her bath is running has, up to the time of this post, 646,425 views. Surely people did not watch this video because the content was compelling – they watched it because of Zoe’s talented self-marketing skills, as it is a part of the rest of her channel which acts almost as a reality series.

What does this popularity mean for the publishing industry? To give a book deal to any of these YouTubers could only spell success. Their pocket-money-laiden YA target audience hang onto their every word, and it is a safe bet then they will spend £7.99 or so on a book written by them or a physical tie-in to their YouTube channel. A publishing house has little advertising to do – the stars do the advertising for them for free. Both Sugg and Deyes have book deals now. If all goes smoothly, it seems that there could be a wide trend of YouTubers crossing over into the world of print publishing – a win-win for the socially talented, the publishing house, and the YA market.

Over the next couple of days, I will be blogging more about Sugg and Deyes’ new books, and my take on their journey from YouTube to print.

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