By Sahil Patel
From web to… print?
Simon & Schuster’s Atria Publishing Group has paired with United Talent Agency to launch Keywords Press, a new imprint that will cater to “digital influencers” — really YouTube stars — who want to publish books.
In the announcement, Keywords Press says it will bring “new business, creative development, and marketing models designed in recognition and celebration of the unique relationship between digital stars and their global networks of hyper-connected fans.” In normal-speak, and as related to The New York Times by Atria and UTA, this means bringing elements such as crowdsourcing to the publishing world.
“We believe that this generation of digital stars, who are unprecedented in how they’ve built their brands and relate to their audience, gives us an opportunity to rethink the publishing model,” said Judith Curr, president and publisher of Atria Publishing Group, in a statement. “We are excited for our new authors to work directly with their fans to determine what stories they want told.”
Curr added that Keywords anticipates publishing books across genres, from “serious to comedic, fiction to nonfiction, practical advice to personal memoir.”
First up: Books from a quintet of some of the most prominent personalities on YouTube (who also happen to be UTA clients): Shay Carl, Shane Dawson, Justine Ezarik, and Joey Graceffa. Connor Franta of O2L, who’s repped by Fullscreen, also has a deal through Keywords Press. These books will roll out in late 2014 and early 2015.
The overall goal, according to Atria, is to publish 6–10 books in both print and digital formats. And while the imprint is starting out with books from UTA clients, Keywords will also be open to those not repped by UTA.
“Keywords Press is being built to work with new authors who not only have unique voices, but also have a special and direct relationship with their fans,” said Curr.
The question is will the loyal following that an influencer has built online follow him or her to other media platforms?
Usually the transition is from YouTube to television or film. Books, obviously, are a completely different territory. The Times characterizes early attempts by YouTube creators to venture into the printing world as having received “ho-hum” results.
But it’s not exactly impossible. John Green may have been a novelist before he became known as a prominent YouTube personality, but I imagine no one would say his online following hasn’t helped.
Keywords Press, and in the near-term UTA’s stable of YouTube clients, are banking on that.
An earlier version of this article had reported that Connor Franta of the music group O2L was repped by UTA. He along with the rest of the group are repped by Fullscreen.