Actually, not everyone can write a novel.

I have a certain amount of sympathy for Zoe Sugg, to be honest. Like a lot of people, she didn’t so much want to write a book as to have written one, and I expect the publishers waved a very large cheque at her to lend her name to yet another YA romance with an entirely generic plot. The kicking she got online when it emerged that most of the actual writing of her novel was done by someone else was probably far more spiteful and personal than necessary (because being pretty, famous for famousness, and most of all being female is all you need to get a facefull of horrific abuse on Twitter the minute you do anything to upset anyone).

It still irritates me that publishers do this, though. I thought the crap idea of marketing actual novels written by people who can’t write and have no interest in writing was one that died after Naomi Campbell’s Swan proved such an embarrassment.

But no, people who get their names known for reasons more to do with random luck than talent (such as any X-Factor winner or disgraced politician) still seem to want to call themselves writers, and having their memoirs published, or even putting together a how-to book on cookery or the history of stamp collecting doesn’t fill them with thrills in the way becoming a novelist appears to do.

I don’t see why Zoe Sugg couldn’t have put out a book of make up tips, given that make up expertise seems to be her skillset. Or, if she really did want to write a book, why didn’t she get on and actually write one? Her own efforts probably wouldn’t have been much worse than a fair percentage of non-famous but published authors. Getting a competent unknown to produce 80 000 words and then slapping some pretty kid’s ‘personal branding’ all over it just seems such a devaluing of the real skill, time, effort and energy that proper fiction writers (ie those of us who sit down and write books) expend, often for very little reward.

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