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Here, have some tweets from me.

This didn’t used to be an issue for me, as I say in the first of those tweets. I spent most of my first year or two on Twitter talking to my friends, or maybe making some new ones–mostly friends of friends, right? I had maybe a couple hundred followers, who I mostly also followed. And even at that level it was difficult to keep up.

Then Ancillary Justice came out. I now have nearly eight thousand followers. It would be beyond pointless for me to follow all or even most of those–I couldn’t possibly pay attention to even a significant fraction of that, and I’d likely entirely miss anything from my actual friends–which is mostly what I follow Twitter for to begin with.

Now, I do look at my mentions, and not infrequently reply to those in some way. I do enjoy doing that. But every now and then, someone will turn up in my mentions in some way that’s very clearly designed to get my attention in a particular way–the tweeter wants me to notice their book, or asks explicitly that I follow them back (and they’re not someone I already know). I’m going to be honest, this irritates me. No offense, right? They’re obviously using Twitter as a promotional tool, where I’m using it to hang with people. This is mostly fine with me, in the abstract, I’ve got no problem with publicity or promotion. In the concrete and specific, I’d suggest that approaching promotion on Twitter as largely a question of amassing a lot of followers who you can then tweet to about your book is, perhaps, not as effective as you imagine it might be. I’ll also suggest that, if you want to engage the interest of someone with a lot of twitter followers, whose retweets or conversations with you might bring you the visibility you’re after, you might want to do your research about who that person is and why they have those followers, and not try to engage them with generic questions, let alone passive-aggressive tweets meant to guilt or provoke that person into replying or following back. But, you know, it’s your call, your life, your Twitter feed. And I’m totally okay with using the block and mute buttons whenever it seems convenient. (That would be the way the “react badly” mentioned in the tweets above usually manifests itself.)

I do follow people back who I know in real life (though not always, sometimes I have a reason for not following back or I’ve missed the follow). And I do often respond to mentions, even if only to heart something that amuses me. But I don’t always respond, and I don’t consider myself to have any particular obligation to respond, to be entirely honest, and nothing will take the shine off someone’s @ing me like their acting as though they are entitled to my attention.

And–this ought to go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway–I block the tweeters of abusive or offensive tweets, without saying anything more about it. To be entirely honest, I’ll block the senders of such tweets even if they haven’t sent them to me, and I’ve just happened across them in a conversation. The begging for follow-backs I describe above doesn’t fall into this category, of course, but I still ignore or mute it.

Seriously, I tweet to hang with my friends, and I enjoy answering questions or hearting or retweeting comments from my readers when I have a chance to. I love sharing things my readers have made, like fan art, or silly jokes. Occasionally I’ll tweet announcements about my stories or books. That’s how I use it, and you’re free to use Twitter however you like. Just don’t expect that I’ll play along.