Seven Top Authors Talk Twitter Tips and Social Media's Effects on Literature
Plus: Who to follow online, as suggested by Lemony Snicket, Jackie Collins, Eric Jerome Dickey, Jonathan Evison, Celeste Ng, Anna Todd and Lauren Beukes.
Sometimes, 140 characters are all an author needs.
Ahead of the annual #TwitterFiction Festival — the virtual storytelling celebration that has 22 writers sharing new stories one tweet at a time, which runs May 11 to 15 (including an in-person event on May 13 in New York City) — The Hollywood Reporter asked seven participating authors about how social media affects their writing (or literature generally), what makes a good tweet and who they follow online.
JONATHAN EVISON (@JonathanEvison)
#TwitterFiction: Join a character from the author’s upcoming novel on a seven-day Alaskan cruise.
How social media affects literature: "The key is to enjoy it and be part of the conversation, not just use the medium for self-promotion. ... I hear some writers complain that their publicist is making them [participate], and I think to myself, don't bother. If that's your attitude, you're not bringing anything to the table anyway. Also, get over yourself."
In 140 characters or less, describe a good tweet: "Any of these: astute or witty observation, link to a good resource, news under the mainstream radar or ignored by traditional media."
Favorite users: @PublishersWkly, @AlgonquinBooks, "My high school gym teacher"
CELESTE NG (@pronounced_ing)
#TwitterFiction: A hidden note bearing only a call number leads to a most unusual love story.
How social media affects literature: "It lets writers cheer on (and commiserate with) each other — Twitter is the perfect water cooler for shy writers. … But it's horribly addictive and a tremendous time-suck. Think about all the books that could be written in the time you spend on Twitter. (Note: I'm not saying it's not worth it.)"
In 140 characters or less, describe a good tweet: "Pithy, quirky, and made with a sense of humor and humility."
Favorite users: @elizmccracken, @PorterSqBooks, @MirandaKeeling
JACKIE COLLINS (@jackiejcollins)
#TwitterFiction: A beautiful, young actress. A horny, old, married producer. An accomplished and elegant wife. Who will be the winner in this triangle?
How social media affects literature: "It teaches people that spelling isn’t necessary because of spell check. And that actually writing something is a lost art. The good news is that Google can tell you anything you want to know."
In 140 characters or less, describe a good tweet: "A tweet should be either funny or inspirational or informative."
Favorite users: @KateCasey, @SarahKSilverman, @CraigyFerg
ERIC JEROME DICKEY (@ericjdickey)
#TwitterFiction: A never-before-seen scene from Tempted by Trouble.
How social media affects literature: "The best is thing is that it opens the door for everyone. The worst thing is that it opens the door for everyone."
In 140 characters or less, describe a good tweet: "Poignant, serious or humorous, a good tweet informs, adds to a debate or initiates a conversation. Very retweet-able. :-)"
Favorite users: @rubiconreader, @lolitafiles, @BG_Publishing
DANIEL HANDLER (AKA LEMONY SNICKET) (@LemonySnicket)
#TwitterFiction: An amnesia stricken author enlists help from Twitter followers to solve a mystery.
How social media affects literature: "The best thing is that it connects readers with authors and work that might otherwise fly under the radar. The worst thing is it distracts writers who ought to be working."
In 140 characters or less, describe a good tweet: "Concise, Noble Statement with Specific, Surprising Twist @SomebodySearchingForTheirOwnName #InsiderSubtext"
Favorite users: "As any good spy or detective knows, one does not let people know they are being followed. One goes to where they are, lurks quietly, watching what they are doing."
ANNA TODD (@imaginator1dx)
#TwitterFiction: What would happen if a teenage boy found his favorite actress' iPhone sitting on a desk?
How social media affects literature: "It gives the writer the platform to share their stories with a much larger crowd. But sometimes it's easy to be discouraged from people's opinions online."
In 140 characters or less, describe a good tweet: "Good tweets are short and sweet, getting to the point quickly and with at least one emoji :)"
Favorite users: @Real_Liam_Payne, @TomHanks, @Cosmopolitan
LAUREN BEUKES (@laurenbeukes)
#TwitterFiction: Crowd-sourced literary genre mash-ups created on demand.
How social media affects literature: "It's like being at the most awesome dinner party in the world with handpicked guests, and you can overhear a conversation and engage with it. But it makes literature very personal and can turn vicious. ... Still call out idiots, but do it in a way that doesn't resort to their idiot tactics."
In 140 characters or less, describe a good tweet: "Sharing whimsy, wit, wonder, wrath, unfolding aspects of you or sinking a porthole we can see through into some facet of the world."
Favorite users: @joeyhifi, @booksliveSA, @greatdismal