Zoella on being 'attacked' for using a ghostwriter: 'It was horrible... I felt it had all been ruined'

'It knocked my confidence massively,' Youtuber says

Olivia Blair
Monday 03 October 2016 10:00 BST
Zoella at a 'Girl Online' book launch in 2014
Zoella at a 'Girl Online' book launch in 2014 (Rex)

Zoella has said she felt “attacked” over the ghostwriter controversy which surrounded her debut book and said the backlash she received knocked her confidence.

In 2014, the Youtuber, whose real name is Zoe Sugg, became the world’s fastest-selling debut author when her novel Girl Online was released and sold 78,000 in its first week. But the honeymoon phase following this success was short lived as speculation began over whether the 26-year-old was the book’s sole author.

Penguin later admitted: "Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own” and the ghostwriters were outed. Their role was not a complete surprise given they were credited in the acknowledgment section of her book. Sugg said at the time: “Of course I was going to have help from Penguin’s editorial team in telling my story”.

“It was horrible. I worked really hard on the book and it was all me – the characters, the story,” she told Cosmopolitan. "I felt as if I was being attacked and I was like, ‘I’m going to shut my laptop, I can’t be bothered with all this'.

“It knocked my confidence massively. When it came round to the second book, I felt I couldn’t and that it had all been ruined. It took a lot for me to put that behind me and move forward.”

Sugg’s second book, Girl Online: On Tour was published in October 2015. The third book in the trilogy Girl Online: Going Solo is to be published next month.

Since beginning her Youtube channel where she offered hair and make-up tutorials in 2009, Zoella has amassed over 11 million subscribers to her page and become one of the video-sharing website's biggest stars.

With Sugg's meteoritic success has come an unexpected level of fame which she has, at times, struggled with. In December, she and her Youtuber boyfriend Alfie Deyes hit out at fans for turning up to their house and invading their privacy.

"There was a point where I was nervous to go out on my own," she says. "It's not like you've gone into a Hollywood film where your biggest dream is coming true. It's something that happened because of a hobby and along the way you have to get used to this new lifestyle you have."

Sugg also spoke about her ongoing struggles with anxiety, something she has openly detailed in her vlogs, revealing she turned down an opportunity to meet Prince Harry because of it.

“I have a therapist who I speak to every week without fail and that’s been the biggest help because I’m now doing things that I never thought I’d be able to do. I’m one of those people who think everyone should have a therapist. People go to the gym, they eat healthily and visit the hairdresser but no one really looks after their minds.”

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