06/09/2013 05:54 am ET Updated Aug 08, 2013

Cult Writer John Green Trashes Indie Authors

Never heard of author John Green? Plenty of people have, as the Guardian reports. He's:

a social-media sensation, with more than 1.5 million followers on Twitter, a hugely popular Tumblr page and a YouTube account with more than a million subscribers, where the videos he makes with his brother Hank have been viewed more than 200m times.

His new YA novel The Fault in Our Stars is currently #16 at Amazon and the guy is a promotional genius. As Booklist reported, after Green announced that "he would sign all 150,000 copies of this title's first print run, it shot to the top of Amazon and Barnes & Noble's best-seller lists six months before publication."

So how does he use his fame? To attack independent authors and tilt at windmills.

Given his enormous social media platform, why isn't he going indie the way big name authors like Joe Konrath have done? He explained that when receiving an award from the American Booksellers Association. Green said he'd be nothing without his agent, editor, and all the people in publishing and book selling that have helped make him a success. Fair enough. But then he concocted a faux cultural belief which he savaged:

"We must strike down the insidious lie that a book is the creation of an individual soul laboring in isolation. We must strike it down because it threatens the overall quality and breadth of American literature..."

I assume he means "a published book," but who says that anyway? Who believes that? Authorship itself might be a solo affair, though many authors collaborate officially or unofficially, and many work with writing groups or have beta readers. But of course once the book moves on, it enters a different universe in which many hands are responsible for its production and distribution. Who doesn't know that's the case?

If Green believes that indie books aren't ever edited, produced, and marketed by a team -- though likely smaller than in legacy publishing -- he knows less about the industry than he thinks. I've published many books traditionally, and some indie, and for the latter I've hired copy editors, editors, designers, cover artists, and publicists. Those indie books were all mine to begin with, but reached audiences only thanks to collaboration with experts in fields I could never master.

Green doesn't want to go indie? Fine. That's his choice, just as authors who've never been published traditionally (and those who have) will make a different choice for varied reasons. Green is sitting pretty and can do whatever he likes, including rant and curse, but given his fame in certain spheres, you have to wonder what's really bothering him.