In the latest edition of New York Magazine, Doree Shafrir writes about how her opinion of some people take a plunge once she begins to follow them on Twitter:
“…people I once looked up to, and thought were interesting and smart — who I have been forced to unfollow with extreme prejudice, because Twitter made me hate them. What Twitter has laid bare in a rather uncomfortable way is that people you may like and admire in real life can be total idiots when they are allowed to write anything, anytime in 140 characters or less.”
I understand this reaction very well. I have also unfollowed celebrities, authors and other news makers who I thought were going to be full of witty, pithy and amusing insights but instead proved to be annoying or stupid.
However, I take objection to Safrir’s criticism of authors who utilize Twitter (perhaps because it sounds as if she attacking me directly). She writes:
“Or the author whose books I enjoy, who posts constant updates about the progress of her next novel. Don't people understand that such tweets are best kept to oneself? Even worse are authors whose books have just come out, as their feeds become overwhelmed by links to reviews, at-replies to people who have reviewed them, tiresome reminders to buy their book, etc.”
As an author, I assume that the reason a person follows me on Twitter is to learn more about my life as an author. Is it wrong to think that a reader would want to hear about the status of the latest manuscript and learn more about my writing process and publishing in general?
Otherwise, why did he or she follow me in the first place?
Granted, the goal of my Twitter feed is to do more than simply post about the latest machinations of my manuscripts, and if that was all that I posed, I could see the feed getting a little tiresome. But I also write about my daily life, my opinions on a variety of subjects and my thoughts on the work of other authors in order to allow readers to get to know me better as a person.
Martin Amis once said that “people are more interested in novelists than in novels.” Based upon the questions that I receive at my appearances, this is true. There are more questions asked about me than my books by a wide margin.
For example, a book store owner just wrote to me about an upcoming appearance, saying that she and her customers have been trying to guess at the kind of personality I might have and have been unable to reach consensus.
Nothing about the books or the characters. These people are interested in getting to know me.
I’d like to think that if they were following me on Twitter or reading my blog, they might have a good idea of my personality already.
But still, I post about my books, my manuscripts, my revision process and yes, I even post the positive reviews that my books are receiving. And as the release date for UNEXPECTEDLY MILO draws near, I will also remind my followers that SOMETHING MISSING and UNEPXECTEDLY, MILO, purchased as a set, make a great gift.
But isn’t this what one would expect when choosing to follow an author on Twitter?
Seriously, what does Sadrir expect?