Working as a publicity assistant for a fabulous indie publisher such as Hawthorne Books has its perks, not least of which is the opportunity to correspond with some of the most talented authors of our time. Case in point, I recently emailed George Saunders (yup, that George Saunders) requesting permission for The Rumpus to run a story from the upcoming Life Is Short—Art Is Shorter. Within 24 hours, the reply in my inbox cheerfully, if briefly, assenting was more than enough to make my day.
This, of course, led me to immediately go on Facebook and friend him, well, or at least follow him. But it also made me realize that this is such a great way to follow your favorite authors. This may be obvious for some, but for the readers out there, like myself, that aren’t always in love with social media, I thought I’d highlight some of the authors I’ve followed who are always adding great stuff to the social media landscape.
George Saunders’s good friend and memoirist/poet, Mary Karr, is someone I’ve followed for a while now. For anyone familiar with her writing, you’ll know her Texas roots invariably show themselves in a razor wit that can make you want to laugh and cry in the same breath. Her posts are always great snapshots of this, and it’s amazing to follow the variety of projects she’s involved in, from country music lyricist teaming up Rodney Crowell and company for the album KIN to video blogs with Syracuse University college students, where she’s a professor, on some of her favorite poets and poems.
Another great memoirist to follow is the inimitable Elizabeth Gilbert. Elizabeth recently wrote the glowing introduction for Megan Kruse’s debut novel Call Me Home. She’s coming out with her own new title this year, Big Magic: Creative living Beyond Fear, and is a dedicated Facebook poster. She often responds daily to the many fans that comment and, like Karr, it’s clear she writes the posts herself and truly enjoys connecting with readers, frequently posting some of the artwork fans send her. Lately, she’s also offered up a quote from her upcoming book every Monday, like this gem here:
Hawthorne’s own Megan Kruse has been updating her Facebook page often to keep fans up to date with her readings and reviews as Call Me Home begins its venture into the literary world. Her extensive book tour should keep her busy in the coming months and prove prime fodder for status updates. Likewise, Hawthorne’s Liz Crain is another great one to follow, especially for the foodie inclined. She’s always off to some great dinner party or food festival, like this food event a few weeks ago at the Northwest Fresh Seafood Company with John Gorham.
The great thing about connecting with authors on social media is that while in the past writers only needed to submit work to a publisher and then appear at the occasional reading or book tour, the evolving publishing industry now expects more from its authors, and a social media platform is part of that. Karen Karbo wrote a great piece for the Powell’s blog from the perspective of an author who has been publishing work for decades now. Today the most successful writers have an established social media presence. This means fans get to interact with those writers whose work has left a lasting impression on them and know that their support of that author helps promote both the author and their work. And it doesn’t hurt that you then get the bragging rights to saying things like, “Yeah, I’m friends with Liz Gilbert.” I’ve only scratched the surface here. Which great authors do you follow on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram?