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This young YouTube star’s first novel is smashing sales records

Girl Online sold more than Fifty Shades of Grey in week one.


Rae Votta


Posted on Dec 4, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 1:43 am CDT

A British YouTuber just had a more successful first week of book sales as a new author than heavyweights like J.K. Rowling and E.L. James.

The 24-year-old in question, Zoellawhose real name is Zoe Sugg, sold 78,000 copies of her debut novel, Girl Online, in its first week. That number makes Girl Online‘s first week the biggest one recorded by Nielsen BookScan in a six-year history of tracking that information, according to The Bookseller. Sugg can attribute that kind of momentum to her 6.6 million-strong YouTube subscriber base.

READ MORE: Zoella might not have written her debut novel 

Sugg began making videos that focused on beauty and fashion in 2009, but she has since broadened her horizons while staying true to her roots. This year she won a Teen Choice Award in her category, released her own product line, and even appeared in British Vogue

Girl Online continues Sugg’s brand of poppy optimism by telling the coming-of-age story of Penny, a girl who blogs secretly and falls for a mysterious boy on a trip to New York.

It may be breaking new publishing ground statistically, but it’s far from the first YouTube-to-book transition. Other YouTube stars like Hannah Hart, Grace Helbig, and even Sugg’s boyfriend Alfie Deyes have all released books in 2014. However, Sugg’s stands out as a work of fiction, with the chance for the series (a sequel is due out next year) taking on a life of its own. In fact, Girl Online is the first novel publishing by Keywords Press, an imprint dedicated to books from digital influencers. It’s only the beginning of the vloggers-turned-authors movement, and Sugg certainly got things off to a roaring start.

H/T Time | Screengrab via Zoella/YouTube

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*First Published: Dec 4, 2014, 3:04 pm CST