If your friends, siblings, or children are spending hours talking to their laptops, referring to spending time with others as “collabs”, or giving themselves bizarre “challenges” to complete on film -- congratulations, you know an aspiring YouTube star. YouTube stars post videos on all topics, ranging from video games, makeup, to mental illness or even watching your own birth video with your mother (one of the latter from Tyler Oakley has over 3.5 million views). Many of these stars have branched out and are now releasing music, creating fashion lines, and some have even written books!
With the rise and rise of vlogging (video blogging) as a means of self-expression amongst teens and tweens, it can get overwhelming keeping track of the new breed of celebrities that are shaping today’s culture right from their own bedrooms.
Although we can’t list them all (a new star is emerging every day!), below we give you a primer on some of the biggest YouTube stars with books already out or books on the way.
Who is he? PewDiePie is the screen name of Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, a Swedish 25 year old whose overexcited commentaries on video games have made him a household name with young gamers. His channel has over 39 million subscribers making him the highest subscribed channel on YouTube at this time (that's more than double One Direction's main channel!).
Why is he popular? There is no shortage of people who upload videos of themselves playing video games on YouTube. PewDiePie’s over the top personality, charisma, and sheer volume of output have landed him squarely into stardom.
What’s the book? This Book Loves You comes out in late October. It will be a collection of inspirational phrases imbued with PewDiePie’s trademark cheekiness.
Zoella aka Zoe Sugg
Who is she? A 25 year old from Brighton, Zoella is one of most recognisable stars on this list due to the mainstream media attention surrounding her first book. Her main channel has over 8.8 million subscribers (most of the biggest stars have at least one other channel as a spin-off to their main account). She is the older sister of Joe Sugg, whose first book Username: Evie has just been released.
Why is she popular? Her chatty, relatable videos about her life, beauty routine, anxiety and everything else under the sun have made her beloved by teenagers in the UK and over the globe. Zoella’s style is aspirational without being unachievable (her “favourite things”, a recurring video theme, are more likely to be scented candles than big-ticket electronics or jewellery).
What’s the book? Her debut novel Girl Online broke sales records in the first week of its release last year (despite controversy over involvement of a ghostwriter). It’s a teen romance between a blogger and rock star that is light on the more debauched aspects of rock & roll (its publisher recommends it for ages 10 and up). The follow-up, Girl Online On Tour, is said by Zoella to have no ghostwriter involvement, and is slated for a late October release.
Who is he? Alfie Deyes is the 21 year old boyfriend of Zoella, with the two frequently appearing in each other’s videos (a “collab” is the given term for this, an essential strategy of YouTube stars to broaden one’s fan base). His YouTube channel PointlessBlog has over 4 million subscribers.
Why is he popular? Watching his videos is reminiscent of watching the class clown perform stunts while the teacher is out of the room, except his audience is millions strong and no-one’s about to tell him to stop. His most popular videos are of “challenges” (often-goofy tasks or games that spread like wildfire throughout the vlogging community) that regularly feature other YouTube stars or celebrities (a video of pop star Ariana Grande doing Alfie’s makeup currently sits at close to 11 million views).
What’s the book? The Pointless Book was released in November last year and a follow up came out in April this year. Both books are teen-friendly, light-hearted scrapbook/ activity books full of challenges for the reader to inspire them to explore their world with a sense of irreverence and adventure.
Who is he? Tyler is a 26 year old American, whose main channel has over 7 million subscribers. He’s interviewed Michelle Obama, appeared on Ellen and raised millions of dollars for The Trevor Project. His videos are popular with older teens and up (his language can get a bit MA15+).
Why is he popular? Tyler’s videos are high energy musings on pop culture and society, challenges, interviews, and advice. They run the gamut of topics from light to dark, addressing the viewer as a friend and confidante. His more serious videos often turn to topics of acceptance, dealing with bullying, and LGBTQ rights.
What’s the book? His hotly-anticipated book Binge, a collection of personal essays, is due in late October.
Who is she? Miranda is the comedic creation of 28 year old Californian Colleen Ballinger. The main Miranda channel has over 4.9 million subscribers. Miranda began as a satire of talentless singers, and has evolved into an eccentric character with an intricate backstory who frequently interacts with other famous YouTubers such as Zoella.
Why is she popular? The character Miranda makes Kim from Kath & Kim seem like a modest wallflower in comparison. She’s an aspiring singer and legend in her own mind who performs covers (her warbling version of Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off is currently at 30 million views) and gives scathing singing advice to actual singers. Miranda’s deliberately bizarre appearance and self-aggrandising behaviour have earned her legions of loyal fans (“Mirfandas”) who send fan art, ask her for life advice, and buy tickets to see her perform live.
What’s the book? Selp Helf was published in July. It’s a life guide from the twisted mind of Miranda, full of handy hints on how to become a star, get a boyfriend, and generally live your life the Miranda Sings way.
So there you have it! We’ve only scratched the surface of today’s popular YouTubers, but hopefully you’ll find yourself a little more prepared to converse with friends or relatives as they chase online stardom. Who knows; maybe your screen junkie could be next year’s bestseller!