Huffpost Books
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Matthew Dicks Headshot

Why Do I Use Twitter? Because I am a Reader First

Posted: Updated:

Originally posted on Grin and Bare It: A Blog by Matthew Dicks:

Many authors have little use for the pretension of hermetic distance and never accepted a historically specific idea of what it means to be a writer.

This was a quote from a New York Times piece on why authors use Twitter.

I like it a lot.

The piece attempts to explain why authors use Twitter by quoting a handful of well known authors and positing several reasons for the desire to reach out via social media.

For me, the easy answer is that Twitter allows me to easily connect and communicate with readers, critics, editors, book bloggers, writers, agents and other people in the publishing industry.

A quick analysis at the people I communicated with through Twitter in the last seven days reveals six new readers, four book bloggers, the book critic for a national newspaper, two New York Times bestselling authors, one publicist, four authors who have yet to hit the bestselling list (but are no less impressive), three editors, two social media experts, three podcasters, three books reps and a number of friends and unidentifiable followers.

These are people from around the world. Norway, Belgium, Canada, Shanghai, the UK, and at least six US states.

They are people who have taught me a great deal, directed me to invaluable resources, made me laugh and supported my work.

Without Twitter, there is little chance that I would have ever connected with any of these people.

But that is the easy answer.

The real reason that I use Twitter is because I am also a reader, and as such, Twitter allows me to connect with other readers in order to learn about books that might appeal to me.

Best of all, it allows me to communicate with the authors of some of my favorite books.

Just last week I tweeted as part of the FridayReads hash tag that THE POUT POUT FISH had recently become my daughter's favorite book.

A few hours later, the author, Debbie Diesen (a New York Times bestselling author) tweeted back, thanking me for the mention of her book. We've exchanged a few tweets since that initial communication, and I can't tell you how thrilled I was to hear from the author of a book that I have read to my daughter at least twenty times.

Imagine how exciting it would have been had my three-year old been a little older and could appreciate the fact that the author of her favorite book was so easily accessible.

This is why I use Twitter. Even though I am an author myself, the star power of the author has not eroded for me in any way.

And 2012 was a banner year in terms of star power. Throughout the course of the year, I was fortunate enough to exchange tweets with dozens of authors including such household names as Chris Bohjalian, Jennifer Weiner, Jasper Fford, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood.

Some of these were exceedingly brief exchanges, but others have resulted in ongoing conversations and near friendships (as much as you can become someone's friend through Twitter).

Every exchange, regardless of length, thrilled me, and I try to remember this in my capacity as an author. While I find it preposterous to think that a reader might find it thrilling to be able to reach out to me, I've learned as a teacher that it's difficult to imagine the impact that you can have on someone's life.

I nearly leapt out of my chair when I saw Margaret Atwood's tweet directed to me last year.

While I don't think anyone will be jumping out of any chair for me, I like to think that I might be able to bring a sliver of excitement to a reader who has taken the time to reach out to me.