When I awoke a few mornings ago the news was emailed to me that a female blogger had sold 78,109 books in seven days, making her the highest selling novelist since Jesus wrote the New Testament. (just kidding, it was ghost written).
The usual amount of jealousy washed across me until I calmed down and told myself she did a great job amassing such a loyal audience and then finding the time to write an 80,000 word novel to sell to them.
Then today I hear that although the characters and the story in the novel ‘Girl Online’ are Zoe Suggs, the novel was written by a ghost writer. A conflicting amount of feelings went to battle within my innards.
Schadenfreude, surprise, sadness, disappointment.
This happening has occupied my thoughts for the last hour or so and I am trying very hard to see both sides.
First I feel manipulated by large corporations, they see something popular then try to milk the public for every dollar they can squeeze from them. They announced plans for many more novels to be released under Sugg’s name, they want a Sugg book under each Christmas tree, all young girls should have this book or they will be left behind.
But publishers need these types of books to exist. They need these massive sellers to keep the other books coming. A big seller like this enables the publisher to take risks on other writers.
Then I thought about the betrayal that someone purporting to be a creative artist, selling their work to a huge audience, then revealing that the work was created by someone else completely. This is a huge crime in the art world.
But on the other hand writing a novel is hard work. It is a huge task for someone to sit down and write. All published writers are given editorial help. Editors make books better, and it makes sense to have outside help.
When I consider both sides to this argument I still feel that a dishonest act has occurred. Someone else wrote this story, all Penguin needed to do is write “by Zoe Sugg” in big letters and put “with so and so” in small letters underneath and there would be no problem. Fiction wiring requires complete honesty. It may sound silly but there is truth and trust in fiction writing, it is a direct connection between the reader and the author. It is a cultural curiosity that authors are important, you need to know who the story teller is before you invest in the relationship that forms between the two covers.
The Great Gatsby, 1984, Frankenstein, to me these great novels are my friends, their authors are my friends, I do not want to think of authors as editorial teams in large publishing houses, I want authors to be people battling away in private rooms desperate to tell me the best story they can.
I feel sorry for Zoe Sugg and I do not hold any animosity toward her personally, but I want nothing to do with her book. However, I fear I am uncertain, if I were in the same position as her would I sin as she has or would I be strong enough to do the ‘write’ thing.