A recent New York Times article examines the relationship between readers and authors in the social media landscape. Previously, the divide was rather clear: authors write the books and readers gobble them up. There wasn’t much mingling besides the occasional book signing or speaking engagement.
But now with the social atmosphere cultivated by Web 2.0 tools like Facebook and Twitter, readers can interact with their favorite authors like never before, and authors can have a more direct involvement in the marketing of their books. Moreover, authors can get feedback that is more personal than an Amazon.com review or an anonymous post on a message board.
When they use social media, authors have as many personae to choose from as they do in their other writings. Some strike poses that effectively increase the distance between them and their readers, foiling voyeurs. Gary Shteyngart (4,187 followers), whose first tweet was posted on Dec. 1, is charming yet enigmatic (“grandma always said to me, ‘boytchik, do not start a meth lab.’ but i guess i had to learn the hard way”), and often writes in the voice of his dog (“woof!”). When I asked if he enjoys interacting with readers on Twitter, Shteyngart responded: “There are so many clever people out there. I love each one of them. Many times I laugh with them.” Humor is common and welcome in authorial tweets. One of Twitter’s funniest is Mat Johnson (39,712 followers), who told me he consciously becomes “Mat Johnson, author and humorist,” on Twitter. (“Teenagers hanging out at a playground, laughing to each other at how ironic they’re being. I want that made illegal.”)
Read the full article here.
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