(Jeff Herrity:) I was reading cnn.com this afternoon and ran across a blog post on their SciTechBlog “Author posts novel, one tweet at a time.” Once my eyes stopped rolling in my head, I clicked the link to read the article. What was this guy doing and is he REALLY posting his book one tweet at a time?
Who would read that?!?!
The article states that the author, Matt Stewart, who compares himself to Junot Diaz and Jonathan Franzen (uh-oh), is literally posting his book in its entirety, 140 characters at a time. (Approximately the length of that last sentence.) My initial response was that this book must be similar to something Mark Z. Danielewski produced. I was a big fan of his House of Leaves, and have tried many (and i mean MANY) times to read his even more experimental Only Revolutions. Both books that I consider more visual art than great fiction. Granted, House of Leaves totally freaked me out and Only Revolutions frustrated me, but I will be in line when a new book of his comes out. I believe he is truly a visual artist and I want to support him. But gimmicks make me weary if they muddy the water of an art-form, which makes me think about our goals for this blog and our own marketing and promotional efforts. What’s a successful marketing hook and what damages the end product?
Is Stewart utilizing a media to create a work of fiction, or just spoon-feeding us in hope that we want MORE MORE MORE?
Stewart claims that people just don’t have the time to ‘sit through an entire book.‘ But, between quad-shot skinny lattes, these little literary litanies will be just the right amount to get you hooked enough to read his book (free) from his Web site, or for $2.00 on your kindle. And then, perhaps an agent or book deal? What is his end goal with this approach?
It seems to me, that while this is a great marketing idea, it’s at the expense of his longer piece of work. If you look at the twitter site for the book, or subscribe to his tweets, it’s just not a very good way to view, read, comprehend, or follow a long story. Here’s his latest tweet:
“…and she swung her arms like battleaxes. “I don’t know, but you better think of something!” Karen turned off the…” (from thefrenchrev)
AHHH, it’s like a horribly fragmented cliffhanger. And, not in a good way.
Like I said, I don’t think his approach considers his final product [Book] but is more about the path to get to it. I applaud him for trying something new and unique to promote himself and his 140-character-at-a-time book. (and come on, he’s featured on cnn.com’s SciTechBlog – THAT doesn’t suck for him.) What I think is most problematic with his technique is that he is off target for his potential readers. The CNN SciTechBlog readers are probably not readers of Diaz or Franzen and are probably more interested in Maxim and BSG. You really must consider the marketing approach most appropriate for who you think will read your book and future books.
And, for those of you without much of an attention span and yearning for some real literature, perhaps a quick read of our friend Tara’s A Minor Setback at Smokelong Quarterly. Fiction made to be read in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette or down that latte.
UPDATE: Here is a link to Matt Stewart’s French Revolution on Amazon for your Kindle.