February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

From YouTube Star to Published Author | Video Spotlight

Celebrities are no longer limited to the silver screen and TV. Now, there are “YouTube Famous” personalities who dominate the online video community, bringing in millions of views every year, often surpassing viewership of more traditional media. For many digitally native kids and teens, fandom around a Youtube star can be much more compelling than worshiping a movie, music, or TV star. After all, their online idols are often “regular” kids like them. And unlike Hollywood types, these celebs often interact with their fans on social media, creating an intense and often intimate-feeling relationship.

From hyper-specific interests like Minecraft videos to impressive fictional worlds that blur the line between make-believe and reality, there are YouTube channels that cater to almost every interest. Beloved and award-winning YA author John Green and his brother Hank (also known as the Vlog Brothers) have long been using YouTube to connect with teens on a variety of social issues, and have a tremendous community of devoted followers known as Nerdfighters.

In the last few years, publishers have taken notice, and a new crop of literature—particularly in the YA and New Adult markets—has sprung up around this growing demographic of young people consuming digital video. Anyone’s who’s attended a publishing preview over the last few seasons will have noticed a handful of new titles penned by YouTube-famous personalities. Below are a few videos featuring some recent online-phenoms-turned-published-authors.

Do you have Minecraft-obsessed kids in your library? Chances are, they’ve already heard of Concrafter, a German teen with over a million subscribers who films himself playing Minecraft. He also has a book out with Macmillan, Minecraft By Concrafter: An Unofficial Guide with New Facts and Commands.


Dan and Phil (also known as Dan Is Not on Fire and Amazing Phil) are two energetic British teens who film themselves playing various video games. Their charm lies in witty, fast-paced banter and a charming, self-deprecating humor. This past October, Penguin Random House published their first book, The Amazing Book Is Not on Fire, which quickly became a New York Times best seller.


Paige McKenzie is the teen behind the creation and production of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, a massively successful web series on YouTube that follows the adventures of a girl living in a haunted house. McKenzie, along with her mom (who also stars in the series) and several professional actors, produces short, creepy videos in an on-going narrative that began in 2010. Weinstein Books published McKenzie’s first YA novel in March 2015 and a sequel is set to come out shortly—followed by a film franchise backed by the Weinstein company.


Josh Sundquist, a self-described “US National Amputee Soccer Team member, motivational speaker, and Halloween enthusiast” posts funny and inspiring videos every week. Sundquist lost his left leg to Ewing’s sarcoma as a child, later became a Paralympic skier, and has been delivering motivational speeches all around the world since the age of 16. His YA memoir, We Should Hang Out Sometime, came out this past December. It chronicles his awkward teen experiences in trying–and failing–to land a girlfriend.


Jennifer Ann McAllister created her own YouTube channel, jennxpenn, at the age of 12. Now 19, McAllister has over 2 million subscribers who watch and share her weekly videos featuring funny sketches, music videos, tags, public pranks, and confessions about everyday teen concerns. Her YA memoir/guide, Really Professional Internet Person, was published by Scholastic in August. It provides information to teens wanting to set up their own YouTube channels and gives an inside glimpse into McAllister’s own rise to Internet fame.


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Kiera Parrott About Kiera Parrott

Kiera Parrott is the reviews director for School Library Journal and Library Journal and a former children's librarian. Her favorite books are ones that make her cry—or snort—on public transportation.

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