Influencer Caroline Calloway, infamously known for her $165 creativity workshops, bought Instagram followers to boost her own fan base to sell her $500,000 memoir proposal to publishers in 2015, according to a new essay by her former friend and ghostwriter.
In a tell-all piece for The Cut, Natalie Beach revealed what it was like working with the controversial social media star, who ultimately ended up withdrawing from the memoir deal because she said she lost interest in writing it.
Beach and Calloway met and became friends at New York University. In her essay, Beach claims she spent a summer editing Instagram captions for Calloway, helped develop “#Adventuregrams,” and helped ghostwrite her book proposal — writing about the dizzying life of Calloway.
Beach also writes about how the Instagram influencer built her fame.
“The real story, she told me, is she took a series of meetings with literary professionals who informed her that no one would buy a memoir from a girl with no claim to fame and no fan base,” Beach wrote. “And so Caroline made one online, taking out ads designed to look like posts to promote her account and buying tens of thousands of followers.”
Read more: How Caroline Calloway went from Instagram influencer with a $500,000 book deal to the creator of ‘the next Fyre Festival’
Beach noted that this was at a time before the Federal Trade Commission put together guides for influencers on running their accounts.
Beach expressed her concerns on the move, wondering if there would be consequences to building a memoir on the foundation of a lie, she wrote. Contrastingly, Calloway didn’t have the same sentiments.
“But to Caroline the ploy was a statement of intent: She was a self-made woman exploiting a new form of media,” Beach wrote. “‘Women spend too much time apologizing for promoting their work,’ she told me.”
Calloway’s trail of controversy extended into 2019 when she embarked on a cancelled-then-“uncancelled” speaking tour featuring $165 workshops that lasted five hours. People have dubbed the workshops a “scam” comparable to the Fyre Festival, because the Instagram star had sold tickets even before booking venues.