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Deals: YouTube superwoman Lilly Singh expands her brand to the page


(Photo: Peter Yang)

Not all first-time authors have the luxury of a pre-existing fan base, let alone a nine-million-subscriber-strong YouTube channel. But not all authors have the star power of Lilly Singh.

The Toronto-born YouTube sensation – known to fans as IISuperwomanII – achieved fame with a brand of comedic videos, including “What Canadians Really Want to Say to Americans,” “The 6 Stages of Having a Crush,” and imitations of her conservative Indian parents reacting to various music videos. Doubleday Canada believes Singh’s celebrity will translate to the page, and next March will publish How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Surviving Conquering Life, acquired by Penguin Random House Canada vice-president and deputy publisher Marion Garner and Doubleday Canada editor Bhavna Chauhan at a heated auction.

“We’ve been waiting for the chance to work with her,” Chauhan says. “From the moment we saw the proposal and had conversations with Lilly, it was clear that this was going to be huge.”

This year alone, Singh starred in a feature-length documentary, appeared on the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Hollywood and entertainment list, released a signature lipstick shade – called Bawse – with Smashbox cosmetics, and made cameos in both the animated feature Ice Age: Collision Course and the Mila Kunis vehicle Bad Moms. “Her star is just climbing,” Chauhan says.

Chauhan feels the 27-year-old’s uncensored, self-aware “realness” will work as well drawing readers to her book as it does to her channel (How to Be a Bawse’s trailer racked up 1.6 million YouTube views in the first two days of its release). The memoir melds humorous and empathetic anecdotes with life advice in a style that echoes the videos that made her famous. Despite Singh’s online presence, Chauhan says Doubleday also hopes to appeal to a new audience who may not be YouTube savvy, but will find Singh’s persona appealing nonetheless.

“Our goal is to help her reach who she’s not reaching,” Chauhan says. “The book has her characteristic relatability, her kindness, her humour. … People will really recognize her voice. And if they don’t know her voice, I think they’ll just connect to it in a real way.