After revealing Tuesday on a YouTube video that the title of his next novel is The Fault in Our Stars, YA author John Green made a second announcement that has some of his 1,140,780 Twitter followers, 61,714 Facebook friends, 525,676 YouTube subscribers, and other fans buzzing today. Not only buzzing, but also rushing to preorder The Fault in Our Stars, even though its tentative pub date isn't until May 2012, and the cover art hasn’t designed yet. Within hours of the announcement, the book shot to #1 on Amazon.com and bn.com, where it remains on both sites as of press time.
The sudden burst of excitement about a book that’s still in manuscript format is because Green promises that every single copy in the 150,000 first print run of The Fault in Our Stars published by Penguin’s Dutton imprint will be personally signed by him, using a Sharpie pen.
“No matter where you buy it,” he wrote on Twitter, suggesting that readers preorder it from either Amazon.com, bn.com, or their local booksellers, “even if you order it a week before it comes out.” Green explained, first on YouTube, and then on Twitter, that he is going to accomplish this feat by signing the sheets of paper before the books in the first print run of the U.S. edition are even bound. In an interview, Green told PW that the sheets of paper will be delivered to his home in Indianapolis, and he will sign them. The signed sheets will then be transferred to a Penguin warehouse for storage before they are delivered to the printer.
He promises to document the process in a series of live videos, which he will post on YouTube. Within the past five years, Green has taped and posted 800 three-minute videos of him discussing the writing and editorial process. Since 2008, many of the videos he’s posted have been of him explaining the writing and revising process around The Fault in Our Stars. He’s committed, he said, to using social media to share the entire process of creating his books with his fans, in order to better connect with them.
In his official announcement, posted on Tumblr on Tuesday, Green gave several reasons for deciding to sign all first editions of The Fault in Our Stars: he likes his fans and want to thank them for reading his books in “this media-saturated world”; he can’t tour everywhere, and “it seems weird to preference readers who live near big metropolitan areas of the U.S. over other readers”; and “I think it will be kind of fun unless my hand falls off.”
It was an idea inspired by a conversation with his editor, Dutton publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel, in which they brainstormed how to “provide something special,” Strauss-Gabel said, for those of his fans who can’t avail themselves of an opportunity to see him in person when he’s on tour.
Green expressed confidence that he’ll be able to sign however many copies he has to, no matter how large the print run. He enjoys signing his name, he insisted, disclosing that he’s not joking when he says he enjoys meditation and “repetitive work” as well.
While Penguin has never performed this feat on such a grand scale before, associate publicity director Elyse Marshall doesn’t anticipate any logistical problems in transferring large quantities of sheets of paper around the country in a timely fashion to fulfill Green’s promise to his fans. “It’s great to know that readers are so excited about print books that they are jumping on this so quickly,” she said.
The title, The Fault in Our Stars, is a reference to the famous line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” The Fault in Our Stars, a novel about teens dealing with terminal illnesses, features Green’s first female narrator, 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who is battling thyroid cancer.