Interview With Doyce Testerman – Twitter As A New Medium In Authorship, Pt. 3

Parts one and two of this series offered an interview with Doyce Testerman, an author who’s writing experimental fiction on Twitter, the micro-blogging web application which allows a maximum length of 140 characters (including spaces).  Today the series concludes with a survey of Twitter projects in authorship and books.

Twitter has become a force to be reckoned with in authorship, publishing and media. Here’s a sampling of some of the more interesting projects and developments happening on Twitter.


We’ve already discussed Doyce Testerman’s @finnras project, but you may not be aware of these others.

@smallplacesThe Christian Science Monitor reported on this project from author Nick Belardes in October, 2008.

Earlier this year, Belardes was cleaning out his desk drawer when he came across an unfinished manuscript for a workplace novel called “Small Places.” He briefly considered shipping the thing off to publishers for consideration. Instead, he decided to serialize “Small Places” on Twitter, a popular microblogging site.

“It was a natural fit,” he remembers. “So many people are sitting in their gray cubicles, reading Twitter. They’re looking for something easy to digest. I thought I could put a smile on their face.”

Slowly, in fits and starts, he adapted the manuscript to terse, comedic tweets, frequently digressing into colorful observations. “I’ve grown to like small places,” runs the first post. “I like bugs, bug homes, walking stick bugs, blades of grass, ladybug Ferris wheels made out of dandelions.”

As the narrative spooled out over some 400-plus tweets, “Small Places” began to attract a sizable audience…Belardes has become a figurehead of sorts for a decidedly micromedia movement: the novel by tweet. Although exact numbers are hard to come by – many projects have been abandoned and more crop up every week – the idea appears to have real ballast among the millions of Twitter fanatics, who crave rapid bursts of overshare.

Twiller – Also in October of ’08, Media In The New Millenium reported on this project from NY Times reporter Matt Richtel.

Boulder native, New York Times reporter and Rudy Park co-creator Matt Richtel has launched his latest creative project: a novel on Twitter.

Called Twiller, it’s a thriller delivered one 140-character slice at a time. Catch it at  You might want to check the plot summary first before jumping into tweets like this:

Interogators of 10days past asked: how do U no bout China&The hookers? Says I: huh? BAM; Face-punched. again: huh? again: SMACK. blackness

and this:

any1 no how 2 stop internl bleedin? must avoid hosptls.

Richtel tweets from his PC because, he notes, “im just 2 old 2 create-n-write on a gadget smaller than a hamstr.”

@joymotel – The Phoenix reported on this project from John Kewley, as well as a few other Twitter fiction projects, in January of 2009.

Toronto ad man John Kewley — he writes concisely for a living — likens Twitter, teeming with constant updates, to a global "brainstream" where users can submerge themselves in others’ thoughts, feelings, and existential particulars. So he’s co-writing a language-dense, James Joyce– and Philip K. Dick–inspired Twitter sci-fi narrative, Joy Motel, the plot of which plugs the reader into the protagonist’s stream of consciousness.

Kewley’s writing partner, Wayne Allen Sallee, is someone he’s never met. ("We’ve never even spoken on the telephone.") Nonetheless, they correspond online, and "share a wavelength," and one day, when Sallee tweeted Kewley with "a snippet of a film noir–sounding sentence," Kewley replied in kind. "I sent him one back, to sort of build on his, and we did about 20 of those."

The pair banged on back and forth, braced by the brevity and immediacy mandated by the medium. "You can just jump on there because you have half a thought, and then an hour later, Wayne will respond," says Kewley. "We don’t know where this is going. It’s real-time writing on Twitter."


The Christian Science Monitor posts its book reviews on Twitter under the username csmonitoronline.

Flashlight Worthy Books posts lists of books deemed so good that they’re worthy of reading under the covers with a flashlight.

You may want to consider sending review copies of your books to these Twitter members; the subsequent review will be seen by all the reviewer’s ‘followers’.

The BookGeeks are a group of book reviewers operating out of London.

Mystery Books News – Information for and reviews of mystery books, television, movies, games, and more.

ChrisbookaramaReviews from a reader in Nova Scotia.


Twitter book clubs are a relatively new phenomenon, but a very good idea.  Essentially, a group of Twitter members all agree to read the same book and comment on it via Twitter.  Some book clubs have a dedicated Twitter account, but this is very limiting since only people with sign-in access to the club account can post tweets there.

Another approach, which allows literally any Twitter member in the world to join in the discussion, is to set a "hashtag" for a given book or book club.  When a reader wants to comment on the current book or discussion, she tweets as usual but includes the specified hashtag. Club members then follow the discussion by doing a search on Twitter for the specified hashtag.

A hashtag is simply a word with a pound sign (#) appended to the front, i.e., #authors.

On 3/24/09, Galleycat reported that Picador has launched a new book club on Twitter:

Picador formed a new book club on Twitter today, and at two o’clock this (Tuesday) afternoon, they will give away free copies of the inaugural book.

The club begins with Yoko Ogawa‘s "The Housekeeper and the Professor," which will be discussed on April 10, 2009 in pithy Twitter posts. Upcoming book club titles include: "A Wolf at the Table" by Augusten Burroughs, "The Story of a Marriage" by Andrew Sean Greer and "Last Last Chance" by Fiona Maazel.

The book club has its own webpage, with information about sign-up and today’s giveaway: "[Sign up for Twitter] then ‘follow’ Picador here so you can hear about the upcoming announcements and discussions. We’ll create special hash tags (#) to append to your tweets during the discussion. This way, you can simply search here with the hash tag to see what people are saying! It’s open to all and ongoing – if you missed a recent discussion day, you can still contribute."

The Canada Book Club tweets here.

You can follow the discussions of the Prose Hos book club by searching Twitter for the #prosehos hashtag, and join in by posting your own tweets with the same hashtag.


Try searching wefollow and TweetGrid to find more book clubs, twitter novels and Twitter book reviews.