This morning, I am encouraged. I read an article by Matt Haign titled Why Authors Should Embrace Twitter. In it, Haign lists several compelling reasons, compelling to me, why authors should wrap their arms around Twitter and tweet away, something I’ve recently begun to do, for better or for worse. Here’s Haign’s list.
– We (writers) are lonely. We are impossibly lonely. Up in the attic, eating toast and wondering when we should have a shower and trying to remember what wearing shoes felt like. We therefore like to chat to people.
– Writers have always been self-publicists. Mark Twain, for instance, always went around in a white suit saying “look at me, here I come in my white suit”. Maigret author Georges Simenon once had the very real plan of writing a novel while sitting inside a glass box so his readers could watch him as he wrote. Now Twitter is our glass box. And you can walk past it if you want.
– Publishers like us being online. The book industry turns authors into brands. But when we act like them for five seconds we are jumped on by people who probably watch 700 Toilet Duck adverts a day but won’t stomach an author being passionate about their novels.
– It works.
– Publishers sell us enthusiastically. But the poor blighters have to say that every book they publish is amazingly brilliant. And very few books are amazingly brilliant. So they crack and go crazy and end up in psychiatric wards mumbling “it is our big book for Spring, it is Virginia Woolf meets Tom Clancy” to a pair of curtains.
– No person is going to buy someone’s book if they are sending a million tweets saying “Hey! Do you like erotic cowboys? Buy my sensational erotic cowboy novel Nice Gun, Sheriff for £4.56 on Amazon. #cowboys #kindle #erotica #didimentioncowboys?” So don’t worry about it it.
– No writer started off writing for money. A writer writes primarily to be understood, to share their strange imagination, to feel validated, to entertain, to make you laugh and cry, to delight, to thrill through the magic of words, to provoke thought, to shout to humanity and shine torches on our mistakes, to be Shelley’s “unacknowledged legislators of the world”.
– Writing books is hard. It is like holding a hot coal tight in your hand. And the internet is like a bucket of ice. And I really have no idea where I am going with this analogy. But if Gogol and Woolf and Hemingway and Sexton had the ability to chat online about amusing gifs featuring kittens, well, they might have lived a bit longer. Possibly.
– Books aren’t normal products. They are extensions of the soul. And we sweat blood over them. And don’t you think Dickens would have retweeted Thackeray saying nice things about Little Dorrit? Of course he would have.
So writers/authors, what say you. To tweet or not to tweet. And if you do tweet, does it help…at all?