How “writing a book” became the ultimate symbol of influencer status

In 2002, Jennifer Lopez released her own perfume, Glow. Glow’s success inspired countless other celebrities to launch their own fragrance lines throughout the 2000s and 2010s, and it’s no wonder celebrities wanted to grab such a lucrative opportunity: The daily mail reported in 2012 that J-Lo made £570 an hour from her perfumes alone. Staggering profit margins aside, releasing a perfume is a status symbol. It’s a sign that you’ve made it, the same way having an ice maker on your fridge might be for a non-celebrity.

But for many modern influencers, it’s not a fragrance line, but a book deal that signifies the pinnacle of success. There’s also an appetite for influencer books, and they often dominate the bestseller charts. When Zoella Sugg came out girl online in 2014 the book broke the highest first-week sales record for a debut author since recordings began. Grace Beverly’s first book, Work hard, work hard, overcome the Sunday time List of bestsellers. Florence Given recently announcement that she was working on her second book, following the successful release of Women don’t owe you pretty in 2020.

Admittedly, all three are obviously talented and creative women – so the idea that they would be interested in writing books is hardly incredible. But Sugg is a lifestyle YouTuber; Beverley is the founder of activewear brand TALA; Given is an illustrator. They are not writers. There’s an inescapable feeling that for influencers, “writing a book” (or using a ghostwriter to do so) is increasingly seen as a way to cultivate a particular brand image and make money, rather as a way to make a significant contribution to cultural heritage. conversation. write for gal-demMoya Lothian-McLean charted the “obvious career trajectory” of a “feminist” influencer: “First comes low-level buzz, appearances on magazine listings that feature the word ’empowering’ or ‘badass’. in the title. Next are the panel appearances. Then the podcast. Finally, a lucrative book deal — around six figures — that will open them up to the rest of the world.

Unsurprisingly, mega influencer Molly-Mae Hague has now snuck down the other end of the influencer-author pipeline. Earlier this month, she announced that she was releasing an autobiography titled Become Molly-Mae, gushing “it’s something I’ve always, always wanted to do, it’s always been a huge dream for me” on her Instagram story. I wondered: is it in writing she dreamed, Or just add “writer” to his job title with multiple hyphens?

Erika Koljonen is an editorial assistant at Hodder and Stoughton. As someone who works in the publishing industry, she explains that publishers “definitely” consider an influencer’s engagement rates when considering potential acquisitions. “Even if you have a massive number of subscribers, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a book deal if you don’t have the commitment to match,” she says. “So since Molly-Mae obviously has a massive commitment, it wasn’t such a big surprise to see her get a book deal as she would have been on takeover bids for multiple publishers.”

“There were so many people we could have received proposals from or considered approaching, but if their engagement rates aren’t high enough, it usually ends up being a no on the book, just because the publishers don’t see a sufficient market for it,” she continues. “These books wouldn’t be published if there wasn’t a market for them.”

“As long as publishers think these books have an audience and will sell, there will be books of influence” – Erika Koljonen

After all, fans are often happy to buy anything endorsed by their favorite influencer, regardless of the quality of the product itself. I fell into this trap myself: in early 2020, I rushed to pre-order Women don’t owe you pretty, but when I sat down to read it in the summer, I felt ripped off. He didn’t kick the ass promised, regurgitated the ideas of older feminists without advancing the conversation, and was largely made up of illustrations. In fairness, the illustrations were very good: Given’s art is how she established her platform, after all. So why was she encouraged to turn to writing, when she is an illustrator at heart? I finally realized that I was expecting too much from the book – Waterstones describe as an “entry point into progressive feminist discussion” – and I wasn’t necessarily the target audience. But by then it was too late. I had already handed over my money to Given’s publisher, Octopus. It didn’t matter if I hated the book or not – they were making money anyway.

However: this is only my opinion! Many people enjoy books of influence. Addressing the New York TimesAshley Hamilton, actress and host of Celebrity Memoirs Book Club, remarked that the memoirs allow celebrities to share “their side of the story” in the face of sensationalist and misogynistic tabloid culture. Additionally, Koljonen asserts that “one of the goals of all these influential books is to try to reach readers who are not part of traditional book-buying audiences.” To quote the old internet adage, maybe I should let people enjoy things.

But I still can’t help wondering about all the budding young writers who also “always” wanted to write a book. There’s no denying that Hague and the majority of influencers wouldn’t have their platforms if they weren’t white, able-bodied, thin, or financially stable in the first place, as well as conventionally attractive. (Of course, Hague would suggest that aspiring authors simply make better use of their 24 hours, regardless of the outside forces that keep them from realizing their potential.)

One thing is certain: influencer books are a real source of revenue for the publishing industry. “At the end of the day, publishing is a business,” Koljonen surmises. “As long as publishers think these books have an audience and will sell, there will be books of influence.”

James V. Hayes