Authors on Twitter
Twittervision ... Teju Cole in New York City. Photograph: Tim Knox
You'd think it natural that writers would be good at Twitter – after all, words are their bread and butter. However, some authors have found themselves host to extremely boring feeds, or have misread the medium altogether, never quite understanding what a "mention" is, or a bit.ly link. It's a sad state of affairs when politicians are better at Twitter than literature's experts.
There are, however, a bunch of authors who have perfected their Twitter presence, in some cases earning millions of followers to go with that prized blue tick. Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman are the leading examples, but here we offer 10 alternatives whose tweets make our hearts sing.
The American-Russian author of brilliant comic novels such as The Russian Debutante's Handbook is just as much fun on Twitter. Fond of selfies documenting his travels, Shteyngart's current timeline features a photograph of him kissing a koala bear (he's in Australia right now). There is also a Tumblr collection of his famous blurbs. Occasionally guilty of retweeting his own praise, but hey, nobody's perfect.— Gary Shteyngart (@Shteyngart)
At an awards ceremony with Martha Stewart. Life complete.
Cole is a master of Twitter – he mixes brilliant bon mots, vignettes of poetry, art, pop culture references, photography (like this series on celebrities watching themselves on television) and quotes to make his timeline an always entertaining read. The Open City writer has the form nailed. Follow.— Teju Cole (@tejucole)
"There's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will."—Drake "Started from the bottom, now we're here."—Shakespeare— Teju Cole (@tejucole)
TO A BLONDE IN THE SUBWAY Your terrified child's incessant cry of "I don't like him!" when I sat down is maybe not entirely not your fault.
JCO is one of literature's leading voices who has managed to bring her wit and wisdom to the internet. I've picked her over Margaret Atwood as Atwood's feed, though great, veers slightly too much towards local interest – if you're not living in either Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver, a lot of it will be irrelevant.
JCO, on the other hand, is superb at a timely one-liner on whichever news story is currently doing the rounds. She's also good at selecting quotes and distilling political opinion. Plus she's very funny, and retweets stuff like this.— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)
Being stoned varies geographically, considerably.
Racking up a formidable 9.22 million followers, Coelho is a Twitter behemoth. Fond of a vintage-filtered photograph (see below), his tweets range from football (his picture with Ronaldo), to quotes from philosophers, to retweets of news from the literary world. He also tweets in Portuguese and has just joined VK.com, the Russian version of Facebook.— Paulo Coelho (@paulocoelho)
The critically acclaimed Submarine author excels at tweeting. Not only is he a wonderful purveyor of the one-liner, he also retweets stuff as good as his own hilariously on-point observations. He's basically very good at seeking out the best shareable humour on the internet, like this average guitarist classified advert. He doesn't tend to tweet articles or news sources, preferring to keep it pop.— joe dunthorne (@joedunthorne)
How have I lived so long without knowing that the only full anagram of Britney Spears is Presbyterians— joe dunthorne (@joedunthorne)
No more mr niche guy.
Jackie Collins's Twitter stream is exactly as you'd expect it to be. She spells pics "pix" and poses at events with a smile buried in lipstick. She never uses just the one exclamation mark!!! 99% of her tweets are just links to her Facebook page!!!— Jackie Collins (@jackiejcollins) 'S single GOOD KISSER— Jackie Collins (@jackiejcollins)
A man in Ohio got 11 months in jail for having sex with a rubber float!! Couldn't make it up!!!
Sloane Crosley is the author of two brilliant essay collections, I Was Told There'd Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number. (She also wrote this piece on insomnia for the Guardian last week). Tweeting from NYC, her feed is a witty stream of perfectly expressed thoughts on creativity and productivity, friends and her mum. Even the notes in her iPhone are worth reading.— Sloane Crosley (@askanyone) — Sloane Crosley (@askanyone)
I have sprung from the womb of someone who e-mails in florescent comic sans.— Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton)
The best cure for one's bad tendencies is to see them fully developed in someone else.— Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton)
The constant challenge of modern relationships: how to prove more interesting than the other's smartphone.
From tweets about his beloved Hibernian FC to music, travel and the state of journalism: Welsh's feed is bound to throw up something of interest. He also owns the best T-shirt in the world, a mash-up of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures sleeve artwork and cats. He tweeted it here. Too many retweets, though, and not enough original Welsh.— Irvine Welsh (@WelshIrvine)
AND I got to sing Oasis 'Don't Look Back in Anger' in karaoke. Everybody needs to do that at least once in their lives.
Aside from the fact his profile picture shows him covering half his face with his hand (yo, Augusten, that's not how a portrait works), Burroughs is very good at Twitter. He mixes retweets of other people's funnies (especially the brilliant Julieanne Smolinski) with his own one-liners. Then he just adds a load of weird stuff in, like this, for example.— Augusten Burroughs (@augusten)
Somebody just told me Glenda and Dorothy were not lovers.— Augusten Burroughs (@augusten)