Notables of the Year
Ballinger, Franta, and Graceffa are among those
who wrote bestselling books
Concerned that screen time is cannibalizing reading time?
Consider this: 2015’s top-selling humor book for adults, per
Nielsen BookScan, was written by a You Tube celebrity. The #1
new book in children’s humor this year? Ditto. And the same
goes for three of the 10 bestselling memoirs released in 2015:
all of the authors got their starts posting videos online.
The You Tube-to-book deal isn’t new, but in 2015, the phenomenon hit critical mass, with multiple books debuting on
PW’s bestseller lists, many of them staying put for weeks.
Simon & Schuster leads the phenomenon with its Atria/
Keywords imprint, which is dedicated to publishing books by
online stars. Carolyn Reidy, president and
CEO at S&S, believes that YouTube
authors draws new readers who, having
seen the personalities on the web, want to
own a small piece of them. Online videos
are, by their nature, intangible; a printed
book, on the other hand, is anything but.
Keywords published its first title, the
YA novel Girl Online by Zoe Sugg, toward
the end of 2014; it has sold more than
109,000 print units to date, 79,000 of
them this year, according to BookScan.
2015 releases include memoirs by Connor
Franta (A Work in Progress, 175,000 print
units), Joey Graceffa (In Real Life, 100,000
print units), and Shane Dawson ( I Hate
Myselfie, 89,000 print units).
Other S&S imprints have had success
with books from digital celebrities, including Gallery, whose
Selp-Helf, a humor title by Miranda Sings (alter ego of actor
Colleen Ballinger), has sold more than 132,000 print units.
Each of these authors boasts online subscribers numbering
in the millions, but online popularity doesn’t necessarily
mean mega book sales. PewDiePie, a Swedish vlogger who
films himself playing and commenting on video games, is
one of the most popular You Tubers, with 40 million subscribers. Razorbill published PewDiePie’s This Book Loves You,
a compilation of tongue-in-cheek inspirational sayings and
illustrations, in October; it’s sold about 48,000 print units,
a sign that his brand of humor may not translate into print
as well as some other video stars.
By contrast, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie,
with Alyssa Sheinmel, which Weinstein published in May, has
sold more than 40,000 print units. It’s based on a You Tube
channel with 1% of the subscribers PewDiePie has, but that
channel is a teen horror Web series, and the book, a YA horror
novel, continues in that narrative vein.
Since so many You Tube subscribers are themselves teenagers,
MARGOT ATWELL, MARIS KREIZMAN,
Random House Books for Young Readers released The
Amazing Book Is Not on Fire by Dan Howell and Phil Lester, a
lighthearted look at the You Tube duo’s online lives, in October.
In two months, it has racked up sales of more than 127,000
print units. The secret to publishing a successful book by a
You Tube celeb, publishers say, is that the person must have an
actual story to tell. —Carolyn Juris ◗
AND JAMIE TANNER
Kickstarter community managers
Kickstarter, and crowdfunding in general, continues to trans-
form the way small publishers and self-publishers secure
funding for all types of book projects. Although a number of
crowdfunding sites offer the ability to raise funds from the
general public, the Kickstarter model leads the way. As 2015
draws to a close, the site has raised more than $70 million to
support projects in the general publishing category, and it
raised more than $42 million to back publishing projects in
comics, for a total of more than $112 million supporting more
than 35,000 successfully funded publishing/comics projects.
None of this is by accident. Besides offering cutting-edge tech-
nology, Kickstarter gives publishing cam-
paign organizers three community man-
agers—Margot Atwell and Maris Kreizman
for general publishing, and Jamie Tanner
for comics—for guidance and expertise on
running their campaigns.
Kreizman is a former editor at the Free
Press and a former editorial director at
Nook Press, B&N’s self-publishing channel.
Atwell is a publishing veteran who has
worked as publisher at the indie press
Beaufort Books, in addition to being a
skater for Gotham Girls Roller Derby; she
even used Kickstarter to launch Gutpunch
Press, her own indie publishing house, in
2015. Tanner is a graphic novelist ( The
Aviary, 2008, AdHouse) and manages the
comics category, which has one of the
highest campaign success rates (50%) on
It’s a new era in book publishing, and
Kickstarter is one reason why. Kreizman
said earlier this year that “consolidation
[in the book industry] has led to people
looking for new ways to publish. We’ve
only scratched the surface of what we can
do here at Kickstarter.” —Calvin Reid ◗