Rick Riordan, John Green demonstrate positive role of authors on social media today

December 4, 2014 — by Claire Chou and Isabelle Tseng

“You know, it's a funny thing about writers. Most people don't stop to think of books being written by people much like themselves. ... They know their stories but not their names, and certainly not their faces. And most writers like it that way.”

So said Fenoglio, the author character in Cornelia Funke’s “Inkheart” trilogy. Once upon a time, his words might have held true, but with the increased popularity of social media, authors today have become much more prominent and publicly connected figures — and this is a positive change.

Though it may seem another sales tactic or even a bad influence on readers, an author interacting with their fanbase is a heartwarming and often entertaining occasion.

Take Rick Riordan, who wrote the Percy Jackson books and the sequel series, Heroes of Olympus.

In response to a fan’s question regarding the final book — “The Blood of Olympus,” published Oct. 7  this year — Riordan (username @camphalfblood) tweeted, “@HunzGabion are contents of UK's BoO the same as US's BoO?/UK edition includes free bonus vowels!! color = colour, etc.”

Riordan’s tweets often display this snarky wit, which his characters are also well known (and beloved) for. His presence on sites like Twitter allows fans to feel closer to their favorite author — whom they affectionately call “Uncle Rick.”

Another media-active author is John Green, author of popular young adult  novels “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Paper Towns” and “Looking for Alaska,” among others.

Green and his brother Hank inspired the group known as the Nerdfighters. According to their website (nerdfighters.ning.com), “We're Nerdfighters. We fight against suck … we fight for awesome. We fight using our brains, our hearts, our calculators and our trombones.”

In addition to the vlogs, he and his brother post on their joint YouTube channel (vlogbrothers), Green maintains a Tumblr blog: fishingboatproceeds, where anyone can message him, even anonymously.

“Make John Green find the thing” is a popular game Tumblr users like to play. Posts that reference Green or his interests will be tagged with tags that he tracks in hopes he will see it.

Fans also had the opportunity to interact with John and Hank Green at Vid Con and the former at Book Con where he talked about his bestseller “The Fault in Our Stars.”

These are only a few examples of how modern authors can and should take advantage of modern technology to connect with their fanbase.

And so authors become, in a way, cult figures. Readers may not sacrifice animals in worship to them, but author-reader events have become as hyped as 1D concerts. Fans scream and cheer for the creator of their beloved fictional world, just as they would for a pop singer.

The general opinion is that books are on the decline, that  electronics and music are rising in popularity instead. But with Green and Riordan (and various others, like J. K. Rowling) around, books are unlikely to ever completely lose their appeal.

With its continued improvements, technology becomes not an estrangement from our favorite authors — luring us away from the relative safety of their works into the depths of the Internet — but a way for us to bridge the gap between us and those brilliant creators. We may not be able to actually hang out with our favorite characters or truly experience their worlds, but we can interact with their creators — and that’s a positive step.

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