What Kind of Writer’s Retreat is Right For You?
Pondering the John Green discussions …
So I want to take a minute to address the unfair accusations about John Green & his influence that seem to pop up more & more since TFiOS exploded in the market. I’ve been biting my tongue, but then I saw this.
TWITTER AS BAROMETER:
Tying Twitter followers to sales/influence seems a little troubling to me. For easy data comparison, take a glance at Sylvia Day’s followers. Syl just got an eight figure deal, but she has 100k or so followers.
John had at or around a million Twitter followers BEFORE he hit the NYT. Twitter is not a barometer for power, esp in John’s case. He built a platform with his brother. People follow him there bc of more than his novels.
DISCLAIMER before I go on:
I like John. He’s talented, neurotic, & sweet. In other words, he’s like most of my writer friends.
History & Context
I had been emailing with John back in 2006 bc I had a “pre-pub tour” & had no idea what that meant, but Googling informed me that the author of a book I’d read & liked (Looking for Alaska) had done one. John replied with helpful answers (including commentary on hotel peanuts).
When I met John, back in 2006 or 2007, it was the night of his Printz acceptance (for either the Printz Award or the Printz Honor— IDK which, all I remember is that he was there accepting as was Marcus Zusak).
At his speech he was sweet, but he also did this thing with a videocamera that made me come home & report to my husband, “He has a schtick that will build audience recognition. I’m not sure if it’ll sell books, but it’s away to harness his obviously non-stop thinking AND hide his shyness.”
Hop forward in time. I met John again when we were both giving talks at a conference. I was either right before or after him. We were both nervous wrecks. He’s just a guy, a writer with the same anxiety as the rest of us.
Again, we were at a conference. We were on a panel with the lovely Sara Zarr & partway in got derailed because John (wrongly) implied that Fitzgerald was more pertinent than Faulkner. I don’t recall the topic, but seriously? Faulkner is always better. *head shaking*
Back then, John was either at or approaching a million twitter followers. He hadn’t hit the NYT yet though. Was the YA world bending to his will? Did he have a villainous lair? No. He had people who were intrigued by his mind, his somewhat manic gesticulating, & his quirky topic selection. I think the best way to look at it is that John was establishing TWO careers—public personality of Many Opinions and literary writer. Lots of people watched his vlogs, but didn’t buy his books. Some of us really couldn’t care less about his vlogs (sorry, John!), but love his writing.
Articles & accusations that his Twitter followers are relevant to his influence on YA are missing the history.
THE CRUX of it all:
Does John have influence? Sure, but he built it not just as a writer but as John & Hank.
Now on to the key topic that sparked this pondering post—Is his influence because he has different bits? I’m going to say nope.
Seriously, folks, he has a Printz AND a Printz Honor. I get that his last book launched him into mainstream notice, but for those of us who were watching waaaaaay before that, I think there are some other factors at play here.
a) He had a schtick that built reach to potential readers (i.e. the general public) AND
b) he writes gorgeous literary prose (which influences industry folks).
I’m not saying his gender is irrelevant. I do get the very valid patterns that male authors do tend to get more media coverage & thus more buzz & (potentially) more sales, but
1) that’s not HIS fault,
2) let’s not ignore the specifics of John Green’s ascent either.