Penguin has confirmed Siobhan Curham “helped Zoe [Sugg] tell her story”, after rumours began circulating on social media that Curham ghostwrote Girl Online.
Spokesperson Tania Vian-Smith told The Bookseller: “Siobhan was part of the editorial team.”
She said: “As with many new writers she got help in bringing that story to life. If you read the book, it is clearly Zoe’s story and an expression of herself… As publishers our role is, and always has been, to find the very best talent and help them tell their story and connect them with readers. Talented YouTube entrepreneurs such as Zoe are brilliant at understanding and entertaining their audience. For her first novel, Girl Online, Zoe has worked with an expert editorial team to help her bring to life her characters and experiences in a heartwarming and compelling story.”
Sugg yesterday said on Twitter: “Of course I was going to have help from Penguin’s editorial team in telling my story, which I talked about from the beginning. Everyone needs help when they try something new. The story and the characters of Girl Online are mine.”
However several YA authors have expressed disappointment that Penguin let readers believe Zoella wrote the book herself. In a blog article, Keren David wrote: “No one from Zoella’s management team or publishers - let alone Zoella herself - wanted to give the ghostwriter a co-writing credit, or admit up front that Zoella needed a hand to get her ideas down in print. As Zoella herself admitted yesterday: ‘Everyone needs help when they try something new.’ Being honest wouldn’t have dented her sales one little bit. Today's embarrassment was completely avoidable, and carries an unpleasant whiff of big business trying to mislead young consumers.”
Last week Sugg became the biggest selling debut author since records began, shifting 78,109 copies of her Young Adult novel Girl Online (Penguin) through Nielsen BookScan's Total Consumer Market.