I Wonder If Hemingway Would Have a Twitter Account? by Sharon O’Donnell

My first book was published in 2008 — yes, the same year the economy took a nosedive. The sales of my book did okay, but without a national TV plug from say, someone like Oprah, very few books do very well in this day and age. That was also the year that I was selected by Better Homes & Gardens to be its first ever personal columnist; I was to write about family issues, while another new columnist was to write about financial issues. I even sold the magazine the first column and signed the copyright forms for future works. That was in the spring; in the summer, things began to stall a bit, and in the fall, the editor who was to finalize the deal was laid off soon after the economy crashed. The magazine decided not to hire either me or the other columnist, and that was that. The second most-read publication (next to Reader’s Digest) was dangled in front of me like a carrot and then snatched away. I was disappointed, of course, but I never really got upset and certainly didn’t shed a tear because 1. my family was healthy, which will always be my main concern and 2. my family’s fiances did not hinge on my salary since my husband’s company was doing well. But disappointed? Oh yeah.

Over the years, I’ve completed two more similar humor books, and I’ve had some publishers reject my work with accompanying compliments about liking my writing or thinking I’m funny; however, it was still a rejection — due to a word I’ve grown to detest: platform. Or lack of it. Publishers want a writer, particularly non-fiction writers, to be well-known and to have a large built-in audience of proven followers all set to go out and buy the book as soon as it’s published. With the economy the way it’s been, I can’t say that I blame them — but still — I really wish that platform did not become the first and foremost criterion for deciding whether or not to publish a certain author’s work.

Before my first book came out, I started a website about the topic matter. It’s called www.momsofboys.org — I’ve pursued and attained coverage in USA Today and The New York Daily News. The book is still on Amazon and is still selling, which agents tell me is pretty good for an ‘unknown’ author’s book to still be selling after 4 years. Yet, getting a second book published is almost impossible. And it comes down to two words.

Social media.

Facebook and Twitter have become the measuring sticks for potential success as an author. I have a Facebook page, but it’s really been more for my personal life and not for my professional one. And Twitter? Yes, I have an account, but ‘tweeting’ just doesn’t come naturally for me, and I honestly don’t see why people want to share or to read where they are eating or what they think about The Bachelor episode. I don’t really care if I’m ‘trending’ or not. I have more important things to do, like live my life.

Yet, I can’t deny it any longer. Publishers want to see tons of Twitter followers. So my New Year’s Resolution is to try to embrace the world of Twitter and hashtags. Please follow me @4boysanddog

I wonder what Hemingway would say if he had to limit his thoughts to 140 characters per Tweet?

  1. 3 Responses to “I Wonder If Hemingway Would Have a Twitter Account? by Sharon O’Donnell”

  2. I detest Twitter for the character limit. It seems to me that a well thought out statement, whether opinion or scientific fact, must be longer to be compelling. People today have developed such short attention spans that I really wonder who manages to finish reading my facebook rants, and I’m certain it is why I have so few Huffington Post followers. Twitter, and media like it, spells the death of the English language.

    By Heather Bowles on Jan 13, 2013

  3. I read your book, Sharon!! Before you became one of our bloggers! It was hysterical!! I loved it! I am appalled that “platform” is now what determines books to “sell.” As for Twitter…don’t get me started. I abhor it. I took it off my iPhone. It is a waste of time and energy. And it it is designed for…nothing! I really wish it would just fade away. I’m not sure that will happen very soon though…

    By Cara Meyers on Jan 13, 2013

  4. I find different people follow me on Twitter, vs. Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Digg. People pick one channel they like so authors need to be visible on all of them. One of the reasons the Chicken Soup for the Soul authors were wildly successful, after 100+ publishers turned them down, is that the one who finally accepted them recognized that two authors who were regularly speaking and giving workshops had a huge platform from which to promote their books. Now, we all have to have a platform, but Twitter is easier than 200+ nights on the road speaking.

    By Carol Covin on Feb 20, 2013