It’s an odd and wonderful thing as a bibliophile to be able to work with authors and books. Getting ‘behind-the-scenes’ and helping books find their audience, as a marketer, is often about finding ways to extend your own enthusiasm and passion for a book and get the message across.
So when you get to work on a book that you like with a great author, it’s good fun – and a real privilege.
But when you work on THE book that served to remind you exactly why you work in publishing, that makes all the long hours, blood, sweat and tears utterly worth it and has the power to inspire a whole new generation of readers – there are, ironically, no words.
John Green is already an icon in American YA literature, known equally for his mastery of social media, particularly via the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel. With almost 1,000,000 subscribers and 300,000,000 video views, John and his brother Hank are living legends in the video community. This is where I found him, and then I discovered his books.
Teen and YA fiction has come a long way since I was technically the right age to read it. There wasn’t much beyond Judy Blume, Point Horror and Sweet Valley High back then, and although they were great, they’re nothing to the choice on offer now. With limited high street shelf-space and the advent of self-publishing, the genre has opened up even further, so making a mark and really resonating with readers is harder than ever.
Enter The Fault in Our Stars. You can often look back at someone’s career and clearly recognise their big break – their defining moment. It slammed onto the New York Times bestseller list at number 1 in January 2012, then stayed on the list for the entire year; selling in excess of 1 million copies in the USA and being voted as TIME magazine’s Number 1 book of 2012. This enabled John to sell out his one-off show last week at New York’s Carnegie Hall in under 48 hours.
And it’s not just teens raving about it. The Fault in Our Stars was gradually, and now is rapidly becoming one of the most talked about books amongst adult readers, not just standing its own ground, but owning it. Many YA phenomena have crossed over – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Twilight, The Hunger Games – but I challenge you to find a book that will grip you, shake you up and make you think quite like this one.
One of the 80,000 five star ratings on Goodreads.com (and yes, I’ve trawled through most of them!) sums it up beautifully:
‘I don't think any other book has impacted me in ways which I can't even describe myself.’
And so, as John Green arrives on our shores to begin his 2013 UK and Ireland tour, I’ve got a feeling this is another defining moment.
For me personally, I’m finally meeting my favourite author, the one person growing up that I never thought I’d meet – given that the title was previously held by Jane Austen. For everyone else, welcome to the world of John Green. This is just the beginning.