Anyone who loves books eventually falls in love with their authors. I don’t necessarily mean romantically in love (although I’m sure that happens!), but simply that when people have spent significant time in someone else’s thought world, they feel like they know that person. Then anything that makes that connection more real and solid in any way takes on immense significance for the reader. It’s one of the major factors in someone going from reader to “fan.”
That kind of connection used to happen primarily through personal appearances, at a reading or bookstore signing. For a fortunate few, there might have been a radio or television interview. But now social media has opened up all sorts of possibilities for authors to reach out to their readership, and for readers to feel more connected than ever.
The Green Machine
For some of the most popular authors today, social media has been key to their success. One of my favorite examples is young adult writer John Green (author of bestsellers like Looking for Alaska). On YouTube and Twitter Green built a community of intelligent, disaffected young people who identified strongly with the characters in his books. They even formed an impromptu “organization” known as the Nerdfighters (not fighting against nerds, but rather against “worldsuck”). To the Nerdfighters, Green isn’t just a favorite author, he’s their leader.
That might just sound like a bunch of fun and games, until you hear something like this: When Green announced pre-orders of his latest book on his Twitter account, it went almost immediately to #1 on Amazon…six months before the book was published.