How does a YouTube lifestyle vlogger make it big? Hard work and connections. For Sierra Furtado it was a fortuitous Hollywood party invite and star tweet that changed her already successful internet life. At just 23 years old she now has well over 2 million subscribers, and a first novel LIFE UPLOADED: an audiobook narrated by Rebekkah Ross from a huge commercial publisher. Her story follows sixteen-year-old Harper Ambrose, a wannabe fashionista who turns to video blogging and finds surprising success. (Just like her own real life story.) In the novel Harper stresses over high school and its denizens of doom (haters), one of whom starts up a Twitter war out of jealousy. Naturally Harper must fall back on her best friend and a secret admirer in order to win at a kind of Survivor: Teen Years (ie. growing up.) It makes sense that Furtado would choose to write a novel (as Kendall & Kylie Jenner did without much success with critics or fans) rather than an advice book or autobiography. Her story and novel is an inspiration for those who think only in terms of music or sports as avenues for expression. (Check out Tower Review for ways you can aid literacy on Youtube while possibly earning money and your own shot at fame!) Here is my interview with Sierra:
Jonathan Lowe) Your first book is a novel, and the main character's story is similar to your own. Being so young, was making it fiction suggested to you, rather than a self help or biography?
Sierra Furtado) No, I always wanted to do a book of fiction, but I didn't feel I was ready for a biography or self help book. I wanted to create something that was similar to what I read when I was a young girl, and I think I captured that in this book.
Q) Have you always been a writer, as with a diary or poetry? Or was fashion and acting or drama a greater influence?
A) Was never a writer, but I always had ideas of what I would write about with stories. I just needed someone to take my concepts and turn them into reality, and that’s why my co-writer was so important—because as I wanted someone to reflect my ideas. Fashion and acting have always been things I loved doing. Plus competitive dance.
Q) You describe a Hollywood party and a tweet that changed things for you. But what or whom influenced you to try Youtube in the first place? Fashion?
A) I was just struck by Youtube, and it really interested me! When I started there were not very many doing it. My Youtube friends really influenced me because they were creating the same things I was. Regarding fashion, I like all types, and really don’t just have one favorite. I believe that what you wear can make you happy and feel confident.
Q) What do you think of all the trends and nonsense on Youtube now, and what is your goal or philosophy while entertaining so many people?
A) My goal is to continue to be myself and to inspire young people. I hope they can see that if I can do this anyone can! If they can be true to their beliefs and their goals, good things will happen. YouTube continues to evolve, I think it will go through many phases. We will just have to wait and see where it goes.
Q) Stats show fewer young people read books in our soundbite culture. How does the novel fit in inspiring young adults to read more, as you say, and how can audiobooks help extend the time available to listen on smart phones or ipods?
A) I just want people to be able to get away from their day to day obstacles, and books on audio really give you that opportunity. Reading or listening lets you get away and experience something you may not regularly experience. It’s so fantastic now, with the age of smartphones, because you can listen on audio and gain so much knowledge and information in a short period of time. With my novel I’m hoping listeners take away a sense of happiness and satisfaction, and that it gives them a glimpse of the craziness and fun within a Youtuber’s life.