Oh, the Power of Twitter; Or, How to Tweet Your Way to the Bestseller List

Forget the e-book, e-readers, the dying word, and all that crap. Here's where the action is: Use Twitter to bash a critic, and bingo! Tons o' free publicity. That, my friends, is the brave new world of publishing. H

ere's the backstory (it's short and sweet): Novelist Alice Hoffman recently published a new novel. A couple of days ago, a reviewer for the Boston Globe panned the book.

(Or so Hoffman believes. Frankly, the review isn't that bad, and at least it's a review, for god's sake. Do you know how hard it is to get a book reviewed? Take my word for it: it's hard. HARD.)

Upon reading the review, Hoffman logged onto her Twitter account and, in a serious of increasingly snarky 140-character messages, proceeded to trash the reviewer (a "moron," according to Hoffman), the Globe, and anything in her line of site. (She also tweeted the reviewer's phone number, a move that was tacky beyond words.)

Unfortunately, you can't read all of the tweets because about 30 hours later, she shut down that Tweet account and  issued a formal apology. (You can read some of them here.)

But  --- and this is the punch line --- the controversy landed her, more or less instantly, in the "Media Decoder" column of the New York Times, whose website's readers number in the millions. All in the space of a few hours.

Sweet! Truly, truly, sweet. I've published three books, and I'm here to tell you that you can't pay for that kind of publicity.

So, okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit. Maybe she won't end up on the bestseller list, but Hoffman is certain to sell a hell of a lot more books than she would have otherwise. (It's worth noting that, as of this writing, 3:31 pm Central Time, her book is ranked 489 at Amazon.)

(Not, mind you, that Amazon numbers are a pure indicator of sales, but a number that low means the book is definitely moving.)

Friends, I have seen the future of publishing and it tweets, man, it tweets. I'm already composing my 140-character snark attack. I'll launch it when my next book comes out.