How Book Twitter Has Turned Writers Into Extroverts
Matt Coleman writes mysteries, dabbles in comedy, watches too much TV, and reads a lot of indie books. Both of his novels (Juggling Kittens and Graffiti Creek) have too many bad words for his mom’s liking. Matt’s irreverent writings about TV and pop culture can be found at PureFandom.com. You can follow him on Twitter @coleman_matt or see a photo of him fresh from passing out on the shoulder of Interstate-30 at mattcolemanbooks.com.
As a writer, I am naturally an introverted person, happy to never talk to more than about three actual human people. I have had whole conversations about this fact with countless people. And, no, it’s not irony. It’s something better than irony. It’s Book Twitter.
For both writers and readers, books are an ultimate escape. Most of us have been shaped by this escape since early childhood. For me, it was Encyclopedia Brown. I was a quiet kid who played by the rules and tried not to draw much attention. So I knew few people with names like C.T. Butler, none of them were kidnapped millionaires, and my father was not a police chief who was steadily bumbling the craptography out of every case in his town. But after every weekly trip to my elementary school library, I got to escape into a world where these types of things happened TEN DAMN TIMES per book.
Escape became addictive for us all. Most of us were better at creating conversations on a page than having them in real life. And, when many of us later became writers, the art form spoke to us as loudly as the books we loved. Whereas an actor or director or musician or dancer receives immediate feedback from an audience and even a visual artist often stands next to a work in a gallery, the writer is essentially sending out manuscripts tied to tiny balloons and retreating under the covers of her or his bed. The process is beautifully introverted.
So imagine our collective shock as the book world suddenly became the most interactive art form in society. If you are not nodding your head, please allow me to change your life. Imagine if young me could have polished off an Encyclopedia Brown story and then immediately carried on a conversation with Donald J. Sobol (author and obvious best Donald J. of all the Donald Js). In almost any art form, this is an impossibility. However, Book Twitter offers any and all of us the chance to interact with our favorite authors.
I, with zero Twitter expertise and not many more followers than zero, have carried on conversations with Paula Hawkins about The Girl on the Train. I’ve discussed books and countless other topics with Edgar Award nominee David Joy. I chatted with Jason Reynolds following his National Book Award nomination and interacted with Porochista Khakpour, Laura Lippman, Megan Abbott, and many others. Now, some of those writers have gotten so big I doubt it would be as easy to interact with them today. But the names really are not the point. Book Twitter is a vibrant, incredibly positive and uplifting galaxy of the social media universe where many of your favorite writers actively engage with other writers and readers of their work. There is no end to the recommendations of new books, and most writers are champions of diverse voices and all genres.
And the best part? You get to do it from bed. Book Twitter is the high school lunchroom we bookish loners have coveted all our lives. Few people truly reject all human interaction. Many of us simply aren’t so hot at it. We prefer to communicate with scribbles in a notepad or taps of keys on a laptop. Book Twitter is a place where all communication is done in such a way. The people at our table are fellow readers and, sometimes, even the artists we so admire. So, introverts rejoice, and welcome to the cool kids’ table in our own little corner of Twitter.
Where to start? You can definitely try going to @coleman_matt and check the list of people I follow, but you can just as easily simply pick your favorite writer and start there. I would suggest starting with someone who falls more into the “indie writer” territory, but even some big names are accessible on Twitter.