Thursday, June 7, 2012

Writing Cliques

People gravitate towards others like them. Sometimes it's common interests, similar personalities, socioeconomic status, gender, race... all sorts of reasons for it. In high school, we call them cliques. Funny thing is, that doesn't stop on graduation day. And it is very common in the writerly world.

In some ways, this is not a bad thing. You want your crit partners, writing group, etc. to really mesh well so that critiques and brain-storming and the like are as productive as possible. But there's a point when an author steps from behind those closed doors and into the public eye that the responsibility shifts a bit.

There are a lot of examples of this with authors-behaving-badly and spouting off in such ways that it drives away their fans, but what about subtler things? In order to have a unifying base, let's talk Twitter. Many, many authors are on Twitter. Some have huge followings, some don't. Some follow back everyone (or anyone who talks to them) and some don't. I'm not going to make comments based on that since you don't have to follow someone to talk to them.

However, some authors don't seem to get that Twitter is about interaction (and I'm going to pick--anonymously--on some authors whose books I adore here). If all you're doing is shouting into the ether, you're doing it wrong. Most people who follow you on twitter also follow your blog/facebook/website/newsletter... they're already fans. So shouting is pointless.

What's more annoying though? When authors throw out questions or statements that invite discussion but only respond to those in their little circle (the writing clique I spoke of earlier). Twitter is not the school cafeteria where your conversation is just you and your little table of friends chatting, or at least it shouldn't be. People are on Twitter to interact, and if an author chooses to ignore their fans (I'll be generous here with the one I'm thinking of) 90% of the time when they say something that invites discussion, it will serve to alienate fans. Yes, I have unfollowed authors because I liked their work, but I was getting really sick of seeing how they ignored their fans. Other people I know have stopped reading their work entirely because of this.

I've noticed another disturbing trend with big(ger) authors. They will start a Twitter event, whether productivity or character driven, that encompasses more than just their books. They will invite others to join in... and then within that event, they only communicate with those in their clique. Especially when it's a productivity thing (writing sprints, 1k1hr, etc). Those who aren't published and don't get mad words every day are the ones who need the atta'boys far more than some other author with multiple NY contracts under their belt.

The thing is, Twitter offers authors a really great opportunity to mentor fledgeling writers without the mad time-commitment. It's a type of support that is hard to come by these days and is almost a guaranteed way to make those writers (who are invariably readers as well) become lifelong fans.

So... I don't get it.

Sure, I understand the occasional @mention getting lost in the feed, even when asking for responses. And I totally understand not being able to respond to everything all the time (some of those people have thousands and tens of thousands of followers). But to ignore the opportunity to interact with all those people all the time in favor of hanging with just your clique...

Yeah. Not a fan.


  1. Well said. I too have unfollowed certain authors for this very reason...

  2. Very well said. I have to say that I have lost respect for some writers because of their lack of interaction with fans. Will I still buy their books? Probably, but I certainly won't promote them the same way I would another author who expresses her appreciation more often. I understand they're busy, but Twitter is about "talking." If you just want to interact with your group and no one else, pick a different venue. It's called social media for a reason.


Tell me what you think