How Twitter Turned an Unfinished Book into a Best Seller Literally Overnight

John Green is a best-selling author of young adult fiction with plenty of fans: 1.1 million Twitter followers, 61,714 Facebook friends, and 525,676 YouTube subscribers. And those fans went crazy when he used a YouTube video to announce the title of his next book and then promised in a tweet to autograph every single copy ordered in advance of publication.

So what if it’s not scheduled to come out until next May? That certainly didn’t deter his fans and followers, who within hours made “The Fault in Our Stars” the No. 1 book on both and Barnes & Noble. (A week later it’s only fallen to No. 12 on Amazon).

But what if hundreds of thousands of people preorder the book? No worries, Green tweeted. He’ll just use his other hand to sign.

Besides showing the power to drive sales, his tweeted pledge demonstrated how social media connects people. Hundreds of fans of the 33-year-old author started posting suggestions for the book’s dust cover (there’s just a black placeholder on Amazon for now). In his announcement, Green said that signing all the pre-ordered copies was a gift for his fans: a thank you for reading his books and an attempt to treat everyone equally rather than just signing the books purchased when he goes on a book tour in major cities.

Besides, he said, “I think it will be kind of fun unless my hand falls off.”

According to an article on Publishers Weekly website, the idea for this promotion was inspired by a conversation between Green and his editor at Penguin’s Dutton imprint.

Penguin has agreed to an unusual process to make this work. It will ship sheets of paper to the author’s home in Indianapolis, where he will sign them with a Sharpie pen and return them to Penguin, which will insert them into the books as they are printed. To further engage his social media followers, he asked them in a YouTube video to take a poll to help him choose which color Sharpie he should use to sign the books.

Social media will play a part in the process, too. Green says he will document the process in a series of live videos, which he will post on YouTube. In the past five years, Green and his musician brother Hank have taped and posted 800 three-minute videos of him discussing his writing and editorial process. 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.

Besides Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, he also is active on Tumblr, and such forums as and

By the way, the title, The Fault in Our Stars, is a reference to the a line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and the story is about teens dealing with terminal illnesses.