Best-selling YA authors John Green and Meg Cabot discuss lessons from interacting with the most intense social media users—the youngs.
t’s a cliché that teenagers can sniff a fake a mile away (paging Holden Caulfield), but both Green and Cabot say that if you don’t enjoy posting, it will show. “Teens are very media savvy,” Cabot says in a phone call from her home in Florida. “They can tell if you just show up to promote your book. That’s kind of phony.”
Though most people think of online comments as a scourge of the universe where Godwin’s law is proven on an hourly basis, but for YA authors, they’re a big part of connecting with fans on a more intimate level. “While YouTube comments get a bad rap, I’ve found it to be an excellent place to have meaningful conversations on everything from the Oxford comma to Indus Valley history,” Green writes.
Teenagers connect more deeply with the objects of their fandom than adults tend to—they’re at an emotional, somewhat volatile time in their lives and they feel their love and hate intensely. But this fierceness of feeling is why it’s important for YA authors to draw firm boundaries with readers. Cabot says she’s gotten a lot of requests from readers to help them with their homework. “It’s a report and it’s due tomorrow, and they want you to help them figure out the theme of your book, and if you won’t, they get a little angry,” Cabot explains. With entitled readers like this, you’ve got to draw the line when you’re a living author.