I mentioned in a comment on Anna’s post on A Reliable Wife that I should talk about how much I love Jennifer Weiner on Twitter, so let me do that now: I love Jennifer Weiner on Twitter. Weiner is a best-selling author who has been publishing up a storm for the last 10 years or so, and I really enjoyed her first two books, Good in Bed and In Her Shoes. Her later books haven’t done much for me–although I am 99% sure I’ve read all of them I cannot remember the title, plot, or anything else about anything past those first two. Regardless, I think that Weiner is one of the smartest writers out there and I hang on her every tweet. I have the sense that writers today are expected to be on social media and interact with people online as part of their marketing strategy, whether they enjoy it or not. Weiner does social media better than any other writer I’ve seen and she always seems to be having a good time, whether she’s talking about going to the gym or gender discrimination in book reviews.
Weiner certainly spends time on Twitter talking about her kids and live-tweeting The Bachelor (her Bachelor tweets are way more entertaining than the show itself), but she also manages to talk about some very complicated issues in the publishing industry in 140-character chunks. For example, the easiest way to classify Weiner would be to call her a “chick lit” writer, but that’s a loaded word. Saying that something is chick lit immediately conjures up the image of a pink book with shoes on the cover, and a silly story about a silly young woman falling in love in a cute way. The word also has the whiff of bad writing about it. Weiner has addressed this issue head on and has been one of the strongest female voices pointing out the women who write about relationships are disparaged as “chick lit” while men who write about relationships are commenting on modern life. (Example: why wasn’t One Day considered chick lit? If that had been written by a woman, I promise you it would have had a pink cover.) She also argues that books can be well-written but fun at the same time, and points out when authors speak down to their readers by implying that anyone not interested in serious, weighty, depressing modern literary novels written by men is just an uncultured dolt. (She is the one who coined the Twitter phrase “franzenfreuede,” in honor of a much-celebrated writer who seems to have a fair amount of disdain for the reading public.) I always get the sense that Weiner respects her readers, and that she is willing to fight for respect for her work and for the people who enjoy it.
Following Weiner on Twitter is also a good way to keep up on publishing world gossip. She came up in the first place because she’s had an on-going discussion on Twitter about Fifty Shades of Grey, which started as Twilight fanfic. She’s raised a lot of interesting questions about who owns characters and how much authors are (both legally and morally) required to acknowledge when they are inspired by someone else. Weiner also points out the blatant sexism in the New York Times (and other) book reviews, showing how male authors get multiple reviews and glowing profiles while female authors get ignored. She gets a surprising amount of crap for some of these stands, but seems to handle all the flack with a good deal of grace.
Plus, I saw her do a reading once and she was adorable and her husband and baby were there, and they were adorable, and I generally just sort of wanted to be her friend. And while that may not mean I am going to love all her books (although both the book and the movie versions of In Her Shoes are both quite good), I can wholeheartedly recommend keeping up with her on Twitter. She’s fun and smart, and following her makes me feel more fun and smarter.