December 4, 2014

And the fastest selling debut novelist of all time is…Zoella!



Zoella, standing in front of a list of fellow brands. Image via Wikipedia.

British ladies have the novel game down, it seems. Agatha Christie: top selling novelist of all time. To say nothing of Rowling, Smith, Austen…the list goes on. So which of those talented authors holds the record for fastest selling debut? None of them!

That honor goes to Zoella, aka Zoe Sugg, a YouTube blogger-turned-celebrity. I hesitate to say “vlog” because I know some of my coworkers don’t like the word, but, that’s what Zoella does, and that’s what’s built her into a brand, so, vlogger. She also has her own beauty product line, millions of followers on every major social media platform, and a two-book deal with Penguin Random House. The first book, a novel entitled Girl Online, went on sale last week, and it’s figuratively blowing up.

The Bookseller originally reported the story, but it’s behind a paywall, so we’re going with Time’s account. The story details how Zoella’s first week sales, a whopping 78K units, represent the top selling debut since BookScan started collecting data. Granted, “the top selling debut novel of the past 14 years of data collection” isn’t a great headline; still, it’s a hugely impressive number, and the frenzy is sure to only be a surprise to anyone who doesn’t keep up on UK blogger sensations. Booksellers, meanwhile, were clearly hip to Zoella’s popularity, according to The Independent:

Though many may not recognise her name, Sugg’s book has proved so popular with fans that every bookseller broke the embargo on its sale, according to a spokesperson for the publisher.

You can tell that’s a British reporter because they spelled “recognize” wrong. Kidding! Kidding! All love due to the British press. I especially like these links at the bottom of the piece, and how they sound like the website is arguing with itself:

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 6.10.20 PM

The 24-year-old Zoella, who is apparently also straight-edge (unlike the rest of the folks who sang on the recently re-recorded “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, on which she also appears), has had a characteristically humble reaction to the book’s popularity.

It’s such an amazing feeling. I’m so grateful to everyone who has bought a copy of Girl Online. I love that so many of my viewers are enjoying the book! This year has been so exciting and this for sure is the icing on the cake.

I don’t watch Zoella’s videos, but I’m told they’re a mixture of fashion/makeup tips, life advice, and general “this is what I’m up to today” updates. Sounds pretty inoffensive. If you need me, I’ll be watching her entire archive and calling it “market research”. Expect the Melville House beauty tip blog to launch next week, with our debut YA novel, Tiny Blue House In A Big City, to go on sale (in advance of the embargo) next Christmas.


Liam O'Brien is the Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.