When I was a kid, I wrote a letter to J. K. Rowling telling her how much I loved Harry Potter. I got a letter back from Scholastic (I think it was Scholastic, I can’t remember who was publishing Harry Potter back then) thanking me for my letter, and informing me that Ms. Rowling wished she could respond to all of her fan mail, but was unable to do so simply because there were so much of it. I still have that response around here somewhere. I also have a rough draft that I wrote before I sent the actual thing, and in it, I wrote that it was my dream to meet J. K. Rowling, which I would still love to do. But today, we have something a little better than fan mail and form letter responses. We have social media – Twitter and Facebook in particular. And J. K. Rowling is, in my opinion, the queen of Twitter. But she’s not the only author that new writers should follow for inspiration. She’s one of many.
A lot of writers tend to tweet about politics, and Stephen King is no exception. He’s spent a lot of time recently speaking out against Donald Trump. But when he’s not tweeting about how our country is tanking, he also tweets about his daily life, his dog Molly that he fondly refers to as the “Thing of Evil,” and advice to writers. His latest piece of advice is to never use the phrases “for a long moment” and “for some reason.” (I did a word search in my own manuscript for these phrases, and definitely got too many hits.) Even if you’re not a big fan of the horror and thriller genres, Stephen King is an outstanding writer and has all kinds of good advice for aspiring authors.
Atwood is very good at responding to her followers’ messages on Twitter. Her responses to fans are always very kind and polite. She always has pleasant things to say, which is a nice change for the internet. She also tweets a little about preserving the environment and women’s rights.
Ursula K. Le Guin
Interacting with fans also seems to be a pastime for Ursula LeGuin. She tends to respond to a lot of messages sent to her on both her Facebook account and her Twitter account, which mirror each other. She often tweets links to news about her or her writings, and she also posts links to her blog posts, which are about life in general, books, politics, and her cat Pard.
George R. R. Martin
Martin has got to be the goofiest author on this list, and I imagine he would be proud of the fact. (That’s saying something, because writers tend to be quirky.) He tweets about his books, but also links to his Live Journal called “Not a Blog.” (Notice that I didn’t call it a blog.) From there, he writes about sports and his books and interacts with fans.
The middle-grade author of the Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan, posts about politics and his books on both Twitter and Facebook. (His accounts mirror each other.) Like many of the authors on this list, he interacts a lot with his fans, answering questions about potential books and characters, and also tells his followers about holidays that have to do with the Greek and Roman myths. For example, on International Women’s Day, he gave shout outs to strong women from the historical time periods of his novels.
Joyce Carol Oates
Oates can be found on Twitter frequently quipping about the state of politics and the American political system. She describes herself simply as “Author,” though I guess there wouldn’t be much more to say than that if you’re Joyce Carol Oates. She also tweets pictures from her daily life, nature that she finds beautiful, museum exhibits, and her cats. She also will occasionally retweet promotions for books that she recommends. She interacts with her followers, retweeting their posts and answering their questions.
In an article published by USA Today, Dean Koontz said that when he reached one million friends on Facebook, that , “we’re going to have to have a picnic — but we’re going to have to wait until I make 400,000 pounds of potato salad.” He also claims that he tries to write “amusing tweets, but I’m kind of phasing myself out of that, because I don’t express things easily in 140 characters.” On Facebook, he interacts with his fans and posts promos for his books. At Christmas-time, he posted a letter written to his “faithful readers,” wishing them a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Brandon Sanderson is the author of several fantasy fiction series and is also well known for a podcast he co-hosts called “Writing Excuses.” (For more information about it, see my post about his slider model of character development.) This is another author who enjoys interaction with his fans, which he does on Facebook and Twitter. (His accounts largely mirror each other.) He promotes his books, but also posts fan-art and answers fan questions, which are chosen through polls on his accounts. He occasionally posts about his day-to-day life, and often posts about where he has left autographed copies of his books in the airports he travels through, so if you’re a fan, stay tuned to that.
J. K. Rowling
I told you she would be on the list. In addition to tweeting about Harry Potter and her other series, J. K. Rowling tweets a lot about world politics. I followed her during the Brexit situation, and, as an American, it was fascinating to see through her eyes how the British decided to break off from the EU.
Every once in a while she will also tweet encouragement and advice for aspiring writers, which I always love. She’s also been known to occasionally tweet about football (“soccer” for us Americans), especially during the World Cup, and she’s pretty hardcore about it. (Not surprising, as she invented Quidditch.) Sometimes she’ll “spar” with internet-trolls who send her hate mail, and her witty responses to that are always fun to read.
She interacts with fans on Facebook as well, and if you’re a fan, you should follow both her Facebook and her Twitter account because the accounts do not mirror each other. The subject matter is similar, but the material is different.
We’re fortunate enough to live in a world where connecting with our favorite authors has become simpler and more interactive. Are there any authors that you follow on social media who you think should be on this list? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
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Another author I follow- Jay Kristoff, author of “Stormdancer,” “Illuminae,” and “Nevernight.” His Twitter has a few political posts (his bits on how bad things in America and Australia are getting now), posts about other authors he likes, and links to fanart based on his books.