Oh, the Power of Twitter; Or, How to Tweet Your Way to the Bestseller List

Forget the e-book, e-readers, the dying word, and all that crap. Here’s where the action is: Use Twitter to bash a critic, and bingo! Tons o’ free publicity. That, my friends, is the brave new world of publishing. H

ere’s the backstory (it’s short and sweet): Novelist Alice Hoffman recently published a new novel. A couple of days ago, a reviewer for the Boston Globe panned the book.

(Or so Hoffman believes. Frankly, the review isn’t that bad, and at least it’s a review, for god’s sake. Do you know how hard it is to get a book reviewed? Take my word for it: it’s hard. HARD.)

Upon reading the review, Hoffman logged onto her Twitter account and, in a serious of increasingly snarky 140-character messages, proceeded to trash the reviewer (a “moron,” according to Hoffman), the Globe, and anything in her line of site. (She also tweeted the reviewer’s phone number, a move that was tacky beyond words.)

Unfortunately, you can’t read all of the tweets because about 30 hours later, she shut down that Tweet account and  issued a formal apology. (You can read some of them here.)

But  — and this is the punch line — the controversy landed her, more or less instantly, in the “Media Decoder” column of the New York Times, whose website’s readers number in the millions. All in the space of a few hours.

Sweet! Truly, truly, sweet. I’ve published three books, and I’m here to tell you that you can’t pay for that kind of publicity.

So, okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit. Maybe she won’t end up on the bestseller list, but Hoffman is certain to sell a hell of a lot more books than she would have otherwise. (It’s worth noting that, as of this writing, 3:31 pm Central Time, her book is ranked 489 at Amazon.)

(Not, mind you, that Amazon numbers are a pure indicator of sales, but a number that low means the book is definitely moving.)

Friends, I have seen the future of publishing and it tweets, man, it tweets. I’m already composing my 140-character snark attack. I’ll launch it when my next book comes out.

2 thoughts on “Oh, the Power of Twitter; Or, How to Tweet Your Way to the Bestseller List

  1. This is so bad! Hoffman has been rewarded with publicity and book sales for what is some really vile behavior. Why is she not being publicly taken to task by someone? Where is Oprah when you need her?Hoffman threw a public tantrum, potentially endangered the reviewer by providing private contact information over the internet, proved herself to be a total jerk and now her book has clawed its way on to the bestseller list in the “Also Selling” category. It’s number 35 of 35… it was not there before the incident. Her publisher should pull the book and shred any remaining copies. No one should be rewarded for that sort of behavior. Without some kind of consequences, she’ll just do it again. Others will do it trying to get the same publicity too. I won’t buy a copy. Nor will I bother to read her other books, but that’s just me. Rant over.

  2. Are you kidding? Her publisher will LOVE this! More books sold! More money! Etc.!Kidding, sort of. I agree about the listing the reviewer’s phone number — that’s so far beyond the pale. SO far beyond. And I also agree about the buying: The worst “insult” I can offer a writer is to refuse to spend money on his/her books. I sure won’t buy this one.I might now *read* one of her books (I’d only vaguely heard of her before this incident), but I won’t spend money on one.Anyway — the one thing none of us will ever know is if this was an intentional ploy on her part. I mean, it’s not like she’s gonna say “oh, yes, I decided to do this because I wanted to sell more books.” So how knows. Maybe she really was just throwing a truly juvenile tantrum…….


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