Can a YouTube star also become a star author? And why would that person want to write a book, anyway? Today’s “Vlogger to Author” panel examines these questions with four YouTube stars—Connor Franta, Shane Dawson, Joey Graceffa, and Justine Ezarik (aka ijustine)—who have recently published books, and are looking to bring their YouTube subscribers, more than 20 million combined, to the page.
While many publishers are looking online for the next big thing, Simon & Schuster has created a whole new imprint, Keywords Press, that focuses exclusively on books from Internet sensations. The new press represents a mashup of new and old media, and an acknowledgment that YouTube and other online stars carry the same cachet as celebrities from the stage, screen, and television.
While writing a book is very different from recording a video, panelist and popular YouTuber Connor Franta tells Show Daily @ BookCon that he enjoyed the depth and time necessary for a book. “I really wanted to dig deeper than that five minutes a week in a YouTube video,” he says. “I wanted to go into that other 9 to 10,000 minutes I don’t talk about. I wanted to tell my story from beginning to end, in greater detail, and share some little advice tidbits along the way.” Franta, 22, has also enjoyed the reflection inherent in writing a book. “It’s been truly a pleasure to analyze everything in greater detail... and [to] be able to talk about people who have influenced me and how I’ve shaped the person I am today.” A New York Times bestseller, Connor’s memoir, A Work in Progress, details his rise from a small Midwestern town to YouTube stardom, and all of the wisdom he’s picked up along the way. If you’d like a pic with Franta, visit Table 7 in the autographing area, 3–4:30. p.m.
Also appearing on the panel is Joey Graceffa, 23, a fast-growing YouTube personality and a popular brand ambassador. He describes his book, In Real Life, out this month, as a “confessional, uplifting memoir.” About page versus screen, he says, “It’s definitely a very different medium to create content for,” but the same old Joey still shines through. Everyone just gets a more in-depth look. Graceffa reveals that he found the book writing process to be very therapeutic: “There were so many wounds I never let heal. I kept so much of my past buried and ignored. Writing this book helped me heal those wounds and come out stronger.” Fans can have their pictures taken with Graceffa, 1–2:30 p.m., at Table 1 in the autographing area.
Shane Dawson, dubbed “YouTube’s comic for the under-30 set” by the New York Times, is equally as enthusiastic about the many facets of writing. “I loved the idea of putting all my creative energy into the book and being able to actually hold it in my hands,” he says. “There’s nothing better than that.” Dawson’s debut book, I Hate Myselfie, also a New York Times bestseller, is a collection of 18 personal essays chronicling his journey. The book has allowed Dawson, 26, to show a different side of himself to fans. “I chose to write essays about more serious topics that I don’t often touch upon in my YouTube videos, like death, astral projection, and addiction,” he says. There’s a photo op with Dawson at Table 3 in the autographing area, 1–2:30 p.m.
Last but not least is iJustine, 31, another vlogger who is also a technology expert. About her book, I, Justine: An Analog Memoir, out in June, Ezarik notes, “Getting to express myself and my thoughts in a completely different way has been my favorite part of writing the book.” She has also embraced a more serious side through her book: “The ‘I, Justine’ title is a play on Justine—the girl behind the online personality iJustine.” She will also be available for photos, 3–4:30 p.m., in the autographing area at Table 9. The panel kicks off at 11 a.m. in the Special Events Hall.
This article appeared in the May 31, 2015 edition of PW BookCon Daily.