Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Some writers need a time out: stop harassing readers on Twitter!

I was struck today by the number of nuisance tweets in my timeline.  It made me quite grouchy and forced me into a killing spree ... I stopped following a number of tweeters. ** If you're not a twitter aficionado, there's a little explanation at the end about how it all works **

Mostly I follow people because they have interesting or amusing things to say. After all, twitter is meant to be fun, right? The clue is in the name. And I especially love following writers. They're a jolly, supportive bunch and I've met lots in real life who are just as delightful as they are in the ether.

But I'm afraid that some writers need a time-out on the naughty step, for they've misunderstood the spirit of twitter and need to learn the error of their ways.

Yes, everyone needs to earn their daily crust, and twitter can be a great way to help writers engage with readers. But if you clog a reader's timeline with tweets that essentially say Buy my book buy my book buy my book buy my book buy my book buy my book buy my book buy my book buy my book buy my book buy my book buy my bo (140 characters, remember), you're probably aggravating potential readers rather than engaging them. That's certainly true for this reader. 

Writers, I'm begging you: quit it with the harassment (and that includes retweeting every review you get, or worse, trying to be sneaky in doing so by thanking the reviewer and including the link to the review). We readers aren't stupid.

So please lighten up and stop it with the hard-sell. If you want to engage us, then embrace the spirit of twitter. Amuse us or intrigue us with your observations. If you can't keep our attention in 140 characters, we won't have much confidence that you're going to be able to do it for 300 pages.

Please don't make me feel stabby.
Thank you
Your potential fan

** How twitter works **
I can post status updates (like I would on Facebook). These are called tweets. I can use 140 characters including spaces to get my point across. Anyone who "follows" me (that's like being a Facebook friend) sees my tweets in their timeline. So people follow me and I follow them. That's it, really. Pretty simple. I can also post photos (like the time I made a lemon almond polenta cake, which an errant pit bull stepped on during my friend's hen party picnic, leaving his perfectly formed paw print in the middle of the cake - we ate around it ... and when they men joined us they ate the paw print).

I can post links to articles, etc. and I can repost tweets from anyone I follow. So when Stephen Fry outdoes himself in witticism, I might repost his tweet.


  1. How do you feel about writers doing their research on Twitter? I do that a lot (so sorry in advance if that enhances your stabbyness). I ask people for their opinions on things and include it in books, too. Like, if my hero is at a fancy dress party dressed as a devil, in lycra leggings, where does he keep his phone and wallet? If a waiter asked a dining customer for a date, would he get the sack?

  2. Hi Sue, thanks for commenting! I Love participating in questions on twitter! It's engaging and fun and I've had lots of comments from readers saying that they really enjoy being involved. In fact I wrote my last book interactively with readers and the feedback was great.

    Most writers use twitter for marketing, but there's a big difference between marketing and Marketing. Raising your profile by entertaining readers or engaging them is just so much more effective in my opinion as a reader.

    So keep those questions coming - they're very fun! :-)


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