Monday, March 28, 2011

Twitter and Authors

It seems I have turned into Captain Slow on Mondays. :(

Twitter. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? I’m actually new to Twitter, having been officially on it for less than a month. Sure, I’d heard of it, but I really didn’t get it. Okay, I didn’t try to get it. Not until lately. You know, in my ignorant stage, I thought Twitter rather silly, just a bunch of people announcing what they we’re doing. In other words, the ultimate of arrogant, listen to me behavior.

I was wrong. Hey, I’m admitting it! And admitting falling for that old pit trap of making assumptions about something I knew nothing about. (g)

Twitter is the ultimate chat room. It is social media at it’s streamlined best. You follow people you admire or find interesting and others follow you. You can meet new people, connect with old friends. In an instant you can learn about upcoming events, book releases, reviews, and gossip. Yes, twitter is gossip’s best friend.

As a writer, you gotta love Twitter. Say I have a book coming out *cough*. I tweet about it, and if I’m lucky, my followers tweet about it, and out it goes, like tossing a big freaking rock in a pond and watching the ripples surge outward.

This is one of the best ways –best FREE ways- to self-promote.

It is also one of the scariest beasts to mess with. Because when something goes viral, it goes lightning fast on twitter. When I say that something on the internet has gone viral, I mean this: the use of existing social networks to spread a message.

When someone steps out of bounds of what the majority of us would consider normal behavior, the internet will make sure everyone knows about it.

And this, my dear friends, is when we return to another round of Authors Behaving Badly.

Ah, the internet. Sometimes I wonder if people forget what it is and how it works. Let us have a small reminder, shall we?

If you put something up on the internet it goes up forever –or has that potential. This is like throwing a needle out of a jetliner that’s cruising at thirty-five thousand feet. You ain't finding that needle nohows. (g) Your words are “out there” for anyone to pick up. Worse, with a media like twitter, IF you are intent upon making an ass out of yourself, Twitter will be more than happy to help you along.

Take in point what happened today, as played out in the Twitterverse. There was a review of a book, and there was an author who did not like said review. She was VERY vocal about it. Very. In a matter of twenty minutes, I read a dozen tweets about this author's meltdown. In a matter of one hour, writers, agents and editors had followed Twitter links and watched it unfold for themselves.

That is less than one hour for a writer to completely ruin her name with her peers and possible readers. One hour for her to shred her chances of anyone in traditional publishing taking her on.

That is the power of Twitter.

As writers, let us remember the power of words. The permanence of them. Sometime in the future, you may read a review of your work and feel it grossly unjust. Walk away. Every person is entitled to their opinion. Even if it is that you suck. Walk away. Do NOT let those fingers fly.

We all know how we want to be treated in life. We all know we should treat others the same way. But it seems that more and more of us are forgetting that fact. Or perhaps some people just don’t care.

So if anything, let this be a lesson in knowing of what Twitter is capable, and perhaps in learning to utilize and enjoy it for what it is.

And, since this writer has done all the damage she can to her name, I won’t feel guilty in posting what lit off today’s Author Behaving Badly viral infection.


  1. I avoided Twitter for ages because it seemed like just another place for me to say something embarrassing. For the most part, I think I'm safe. But when I've had wine... (let's hope my book never gets a bad review, lol).

  2. Oh, Wow! I was reading the link. I saw something on twitter but did not follow it. Now I know what it all was.

    What you say is so true. Internet could be so destructive, if not used wisely. That author's words would be there for all to see.

  3. I'm a new Twittery convert too! (as Artzicarol if we don't already follow each other; I can't recall) Just about a month into it. Yeah, as the saying goes, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!" (especially in public)

  4. I think it's good online etiquette to give at least 24 hours to respond to something negative. There's a huge debate in the theatre world, especially with female and minority playwrights, about how much to respond to negative reviews. Some feel you have to fight back and support your work, some feel you have to take the lumps or suffer worse reviews. I wonder if it's the same in fiction?

  5. Ooh, now I'm wondering which author you're talking about... I'm avoiding Twitter at the moment as just another time suck and also holding it out as a sort of carrot for myself. IF I ever have a book coming out THEN I can get an iPhone or equivalent and then I can start playing on Twitter [g]

  6. @lucy -heh. Wine and replies don't mix. FWIW, I find you quite witty on Twitter. :)

    @Carol -I find twitter fun and very addicting. Much more action than facebook, IMO

    @Libby -In fiction, it's shut up and step away. lol. It NEVER works to the author's advantage to say something about a review. Even if they are justified, they usually come out looking bad. Best to let bad reviews lie.

    There is a thought, however, that even bad reviews can amount to sales. Some people are suspicious of a book with only rave reviews. Go figure.

    @Deniz -the link to that debacle is at the bottom of the post -highlight the underlined Authors Behaving Badly viral infection. Read with caution. It is shocking.

  7. Ah, thank you! It's nice to have fellow writer-mums on there. I used to feel like the dull domestic bird in a sea of glam writing men; twitter and blogging have taught me that a)lots of women are out there writing (very well, too) and b) really, we're far more glamorous (she says as she brushes the crumbs out of bed).

  8. Oops, I'd missed that Kristen! A few people were linking this on FB - now I know why. What an odd thing for an author to do - copy and paste others' reviews into the blog comments.

  9. Sorry, I'm giggling a little. She's got typos in her replies to him and still wonders what he means by "needs editing". Ah well, I'll stop now - don't want my comments going viral or anything after all...

  10. @Lucy -yes we ARE glamorous! Writing in fuzzy slippers while fielding such questions as, "can you wipe my butt!" is VERY glam.

    -oh, and answer is: if you can ask, you're old enough to do it yourself, mister! (g)

  11. No need to worry, Deniz. The typos need commenting upon. The comma is NOT her friend. Scary stuff.

  12. Well, really. And telling others to f off? How low can you go? The sad thing is, it can't even be a publicity stunt, because the writing really is riddled with errors (went and checked her sample pages on her own site. Dairy instead of diary and so on...).

  13. Sounds like I missed something exciting today on Twitter... oh well! Who knows what will come of it? Most Hollywood types really think that the only bad publicity is no publicity. One would have thought that James Frey was completely finished after what he did, but apparently not. He's still being published...

  14. That's the scary thing about Twitter, Facebook, heck, even plain old email - it's so easy to rant and click, without allowing time for your blood to come off the boil. Manners and caution are absolutely paramount when using social media, IMO. But it sounds like no amount of cool-down time was going to help this particular author. Yikes.

    And now I'm off to join you and Lucy in being glamorous writer mums, and commence scrubbing the toilets. Ah, what a life! Cough.

  15. How crazy! I read the thread and it's nice to see the administrator finally closed it because it was getting pretty ugly over there. I just couldn't imagine having a meltdown like that, but hopefully she'll figure out where to go from here. I'm not a Tweeter, and for that exact reason. I wouldn't want one little thing I say get misconstrued and circulated for eternity!

  16. Wow. Insane in the membrane. Note to self: DO NOT do this.

  17. I just cleaned out the pet rats, and now I'm going for a blood test. HELL YEAH.

  18. Great reminder to all of us, Kristen. The internet is not only very public, it IS forever.

  19. Kristen, like you I'm new to the tweets. I read the remarks at the books and writers and just shook my head. In today's viral world it does not pay to let your fingers outrun your brain.

    What Susan said about forever is so true I've found things I've said from _eight to ten years_ ago on the web...while it might not be quite's a long time.