Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why authors should embrace Twitter

Mohsin Hamid was recently branded a "monster" for retweeting favourable reviews, but authors should learn to use Twitter to promote themselves, argues Matt Haig.

Matt Haig, left, is all in favour of fellow authors, such as Mohsin Hamid, taking to Twitter
Matt Haig, left, is all in favour of fellow authors, such as Mohsin Hamid, taking to Twitter 
The internet is the best thing that has ever happened for writers.
Not everyone agrees with this.
Some people wish writers would stay the hell off Twitter and stick to writing their books.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the way authors use the internet. One successful writer, Mohsin Hamid (@mohsin_hamid), has been branded a "monster" for retweeting praise of his books during his latest book tour.

Personally, I thought this was a bit harsh. But I would think that because I am also a "monster". In the sense that if you say something really nice on Twitter about my books or comment on this article, there is a chance I'll retweet it (@matthaig1).

And yes, it is true I am opinionated sometimes and say some things that annoy people from time to time. And yes, yes, if you lined up all my tweets and status updates side-by-side they could probably stretch around the equator seventeen times and really they should be novels instead.

But – I say, shuffling papers – I would like to read to the court some considered reasons why writers love social networking and why this is OK even if sometimes they use Twitter to promote themselves.

– We 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. 


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