Zoe Sugg’s book was (at least partially) ghostwritten. I’m not surprised, but it’s not a bad thing. Many people have their books ghostwritten and have extra support from writers and editors. Publishing is a collaborative business. It’s about a relationship that a team can have with an author. If Penguin didn’t believe in Zoe, they would not have supported her in the way they did.
I think this mess could have been avoided if the ghostwriter had been credited with Zoe. Many writers employ ghostwriters or collaborators and credit them. The first title that springs to mind is Carolyn Jessop’s Escape, which she co-authored with Laura Palmer (who was credited).
Nobody would fault Zoe for a book that read, ‘Zoe Sugg with Siobhan Curham’ on the cover. I would get it entirely. Writing is a very hard, lonely, frustrating, and scary thing. The best and most seasoned writers need support and direction from agents, publicity directors, marketers, editors, and publishers. It’s part of the collaborative process and the business itself.
Writers work on manuscripts and then agents edit them. Agents spend weeks and months helping with edits and then assist a writer in designing a book proposal. Once an editor acquires a title, she gives the manuscript another edit. Publishers work tirelessly with authors to make the book the best that it can be. Zoe did not fully pen her book herself, but books get handled by several people – with the best of intentions – before they are sent out into the world. I can understand the reaction people have had – and the reaction that Zoe herself has had too – but it’s not a big deal at the end of the day. She did credit the editorial team who assisted her; she just needs to credit her cowriter appropriately.
Fuck. The first thing I will do as an author – when my book is finally published – is credit the agent, the editor, and the whole publishing team who helped me. I’ll do it with respect and gratitude. Without them, the book wouldn’t exist as it will. If I do work with a collaborator, that person will be credited as such. I think that would have been the easiest way to have avoided this mess.