Jay's Nanowrimo Word Count:
Susan Adrian has a really interesting post here about how authors behave and how they should behave in online situations. And I agree with her in general. I have made several "online friends" by reaching out to people via blog or email, or having people reach out to me, and striking up a conversation.
But there is one part of Susan's advice that I am pretty sure I am not going to follow, and that involves Twitter.* Susan decribes an author, Author B, who replies to most @tweets on Twitter, and that's one of the reasons why people really like her, in contrast to Author A, who only responds to people who are more famous or published or what-have-you.
Now, I know that Susan's point is not "reply to every @tweet" but rather "don't be a bitch." And it's a good point. You, person on the internet, are not too good to reply to people who pay you compliments online or send you emails. No, really, you're not. And a pattern of not replying is going to get you a reputation as a snob or a kiss-ass.**
But I can't imagine how much work it must be to reply to a bunch of tweets. I have people in my non-published, non-famous life right now who tweet and update their Facebook status, literally 50 times a day and expect me to know what they're doing because "it was on Twitter." Yeah...well.
So I can only imagine what an author with a bit of a following must receive, not only from friends and family, but from readers and other assorted well-wishers. The burden of correspondence must be insane. Accessibility is great, of course, and one of the benefits of the internet, but nowadays it's so damn easy to reach out to people (famous or otherwise) that we somehow think it must be equally easy for them to reach back, and we get pissed when they don't.***
That's not entirely fair.
Susan's description of Author A is a little different from my point, because her Author A has plenty of time to respond to you if you're famous, and just doesn't respond if you're an unpubbed or unrepresented author (in other words, she's got a response pecking order). Which is crap.****
But we should be careful not to ascribe motives when people don't respond. Sometimes people don't respond because, simply put, they're busy. I would love it if Tara French would write back to me and we became best friends, but I would still rather have her working on her next book that tweeting with me.
* Yes, I have a Twitter account now. There's no point in looking at it, though, because I hardly do.
** Incidentally, this post by Susan reminds me that I should reply more to people who leave comments. I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me? I do always respond to email, though.
*** Think about the example of agents. The ones who blog have, literally, hundreds of people writing to them every week, and many agents will respond to each and every query, even if it's just with a form rejection. If you then add on to that, people twittering at them, and sending random "can you give me more reasons why you rejected me" emails, that's a LOT of correspondence that there is very little value in engaging in. Of course, I would prefer it if agents did respond with rejections (I wish I had a job where I could just ignore a bunch of email I got :) ), but I understand why some of them have chosen not to. There's simply too much resulting in too little and life is finite.
**** Because you know what we need more of online? High school clique bullsh#t.