Category Archives: Twitter

Simon & Schuster Gives Racist Troll $250K Book Deal, But Boycotting Them Makes No Sense

Editor’s Note: Subsequent to the publication of the article, a video of Milo making comments condoning sex between children and adults was widely circulated.  As a result, his book deal with Simon & Schuster was pulled.  He also stepped down from his role as an editor with Breitbart News.

dangerous.jpgMilo Yiannopoulos is laughing all the way to the bank.  The interviewer from CNN (shown in the first video below), despite her faux outrage, is greatly helping this Milo’s profile.  CNN is doing this because these interviews generate rating and money for their company.  The hypocrisy is sickening.

This is solely about money.  Milo is no different than Twitter, CNN, and CNBC. This is the exact same thing that raised Trump’s profile. Outrageous statements are profitable.  Milo is simply the latest capitalistic troll to exploit the dysfunctional of our culture.

Now I appreciate I’m is actually feeding into the frenzy of Milo, but I do this because I know full well I’m not going to make money from this effort—corporations own that market. I just hope to make some points that will help readers think about the platforms they consume “information.”

Milo Yiannopoulos’ has a book Dangerous coming out in June.  It was already #30 on Amazon’s bestsellers list on February 14th—not in some miscellaneous sub-category either.  It is #30 overall!  The book is published by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Yesterday I posted a link to about a fascinating book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar, which is also published by Simon & Schuster.  I received the following in reaction,

The crazy thing is that I had no idea who Milo Yiannopoulos was prior to Emanuel’s comment. Milo is apparently the guy who spearheaded the racist trolling of Leslie Jones on Twitter. We previously talked about Leslie’s Twitter trolls on our discussion forum, without ever mentioning Milo.  Leslie threatened to leave Twitter and Twitter booted Milo in reaction (presumably).

While we (or least I) was unaware of Milo extreme trolling, corporate media were obviously paying attention and anxious to capitalize off Milo’s racist attacks.  In the process they raised MIlo’s profile; which of course boosts rating—adverse cultural impact be damned!

Simon & Schuster even offered him a $250K book deal!  Imagine a quarter of a million dollar book deal, apparently for being racist enough to get thrown off Twitter?

But then Milo is not your garden variety troll; he has Breitbart News as a platform, he is very clever, media-savvy, and funny.  I have been personally been the target of Trolls.  Not only did it not bother me I found some it kinda funny and even posted examples.  But my trolls don’t write for Breitbart, and I’m not a celebrity.  For me, it is just another day on the web: I ban my trolls and keep it moving.  No interviews on CNN, no book deals, no outrage on Twitter, indeed no attention at all.  But celebrities and the trolls are a different matter.

There was a spate of angry tweets leveled against Simon & Schuster and others announcing boycotts:

This is all very powerful stuff. Roxanne Gay caught my attention by pulling her next book which was also being published by Simon & Schuster.  The book’s title is How to be Heard.  A curious title, given Gay’s reaction is exactly the opposite of the title connotation silencing a troll

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of Simon & Schuster.  Indeed, I’d seriously considered banning them in my own personal boycott because they are the only publisher of significance to never spend a penny, in advertising, with  This is despite the fact that Simon & Schuster has the top selling imprint on, Atria Books.

Now I would be more than happy to boycott Simon & Schuster.  In fact with the website’s new design, I could remove all of Simon & Schuster’s titles from my website by changing a few lines of code.

But I’m not going to ban Simon & Schuster’s books, not for this reason.  Simon and Shuster is a massive corporation Milo’s imprint Threshold Editions has nothing to do with the imprint 37 INK, who publishes some important books. It makes no sense boycott 37 INK’s titles because another imprint decides to publish the rantings of some racist troll.  It is the reason I still carry Simon and Shuster’s books even though they won’t break down and support the site with ad revenue.

The real problem is not Simon and Schuster, or even Milo. Both are simply capitalizing on the fact that, in America, skilled trolling is profitable.  One could argue that MIlo and Threshold Editions are behaving perfectly rationally given the environment.

We live a culture were saying outrageous things is not only very profitable but can get you into the Whitehouse.






Authors Don’t Need Twitter

twitter-logo-blog-postMany authors invest a great deal of time managing their Twitter accounts.  Hours a day are spent attracting new followers and keeping them engaged with pithy wisdom, personal minutiae and the occasional sales pitch.

During a recent online conversation, with a social media marketing maven, I was told Twitter is great for increasing an author’s readership.  I questioned the need for an author to use Twitter.  I reasoned all the time redirected from honing one’s craft and sleeping was not worth the tradeoff.  Sure Twitter is great for socializing, sharing celebrity gossip and sending messages to friends, but I’m not sure how effective a tool it is for garnering new readers.

I believe there is an inverse correlation between the amount of time one spends on social media compared to the amount of time devoted to reading books.  I doubt people who read at least one book or more, for pleasure, each month are very active on Twitter.  I also so doubt if serious and successful authors spent much time on Twitter as well.

Twitter Stats for Top Earning Authors

Twitter Stats for Top Authors

So I did a little research and checked the Twitter stats for the most successful authors.  Success, for this completely unscientific study, is defined by being on The World’s Top-Earning Authors, compiled by Forbes.

As you can see from the graph (click image to enlarge) and the table (at the end of the article), 25% of the authors on the Forbes list don’t have Twitter accounts.  Ten of the 16 top earning authors have tweeted less than 325 times.  With the exception of E.L. James, who is an aberration compared to her peers, most of these authors are not very active on Twitter at all.  Ignoring the extremely large number of followers, due to the author’s celebrity, these twitter accounts are quite unremarkable.

I’m sure someone is thinking, what does this prove?  These authors are rich and famous; they don’t need to be on Twitter.  I’d agree.  I’ll also add that these authors used their writing and story telling talent to become rich and famous.  Twitter had nothing to do with it.  So why do some many writers dedicate so much time on Twitter?

Part of it is perception; authors with a large number of followers are perceived, by many, as having a dedicated audience of readers. In reality, a large number of followers does not translate into a large number of readers and book buyers.  It is not clear how many readers discover books via Twitter (Answer our quick 5 question survey and help us find out).

How do your stats compare with the nation highest grossing authors who, ignoring E.L. James, have tweeted on average just over 1,000 times?

twitter-stats-slect account

As with most things online, the game is rigged.

You can, for example, go to a site like Fiverr and hire someone to obtain Twitter followers for you.  You can score a few thousand followers in just a day or two, for 5 bucks.  I don’t want to know how they accomplish this task, but it does work.

Another common way to increase Twitter followers is to use software that automatically goes out and follows others.  Often someone, you follow, will follow you back.  Later the software will go back an unfollow those that did not follow you back.  Over time, you’ll end up with many more followers than you could possible generate on your own, but you also end up following a lot of other people too.  If you ever see an account where a person is followed by 20K people and they are also following 20K people, this is usually a sign this technique was used.

Both techniques can generate a ton of followers, but they won’t add much value to an author interested in attracting readers to buy their book.  I experimented with these tactics and ended up being followed and following a bunch of bogus accounts, which opens you up to other problems, including the potential for an increased amount of spam.   I used an application called ManageFlitter, which allowed me to remove all the bogus accounts, bogging down my Twitter presence.

twitterfeed-logoThis is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to enhancing your Twitter account; you can pretty much pay for anything. In fact, I use a service called twitterfeed which generates tweets on my behalf—most of the tweets are quite good.

Basically twitterfeed allows me to query RSS feeds (a compilation of updates provided by a website here is the RSS feed for this Blog) and tweet useful information to my followers automatically—for free!  One of my queries checks for African American books on Amazon.  If it finds something that meets my predefined parameters it generates a tweet, with my affiliate code applied.  I’ve earned commissions on book sales from tweets that were generated automatically.  This article, for example, will be automatically tweeted.

I often have to respond to someone who has replied to an automatically generated tweet.  The vast majority of the time the tweet is a good one, but occasionally something gets tweeted that I personally would never have tweeted.  Fortunately those are usually ignored.  Indeed, many of tweets are ignored, disappearing forever into the Twittersphere.  Despite that my Twitter engagement is quite high relative to the vast majority Twitterers.

Someone asked me what percentage of my tweets are automatically generated.  I honestly don’t know.  But on any given day, the percentage of automatically generated tweets will range from 10 to 100%.  I may miss a day tweeting, but my bots (automated processes) never sleep.

Of course you can take advantage of Twitter’s offerings including Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends.  Paying Twitter ads directly can get expensive in a hurry and the impact, relative to other types of ad buys, is questionable for authors.

If you are going to use Twitter the best way to grow your following is organically, interacting with others and tweeting interesting content.  Unless you are a celebrity you are not going to grow your list of followers into the hundreds of thousands without using artificial techniques.

As far as following thousands of people, that is pointless as well.  No one thinks our friend @ArabicBest (in the chart above) is capable of reading the tweets of the 2.4 million people they are following.

The data, and my personal experiences, suggest that Twitter is used by most people for the purpose for which is was designed; sharing humorous, mundane, silly, fleeting short messages with a group of friends; following the antics of one’s favorite celebrity; or quickly learning about some scandalous rumor or sensational news story.

Here are some additional interesting Twitter Stats

  • 90% of internet users don’t use Twitter
  • One-quarter of all tweets, are generated by software (automated tweets, not initiated manually by a human)
  • 5% of Twitter users account for 75% of all activity
  • 93.6% of Twitter users have less than 100 followers
  • 1 in 10 Twitter users don’t follow anyone
  • 92.4% follow less than 100 people
  • 6 out of 100 twitter users have no followers
  • 25% of Twitter users have never tweeted
  • 0.29% of overall Twitter users who follow more than 2,000 people

Below is the data used to compile the chart above.

Author Name 2013 Rev (In Millions) #Tweets #Following #Followers
E.L. James $95 31,512 397 451,454
James Patterson $91 1,399 2,227 49,899
Suzanne Collins $55 0 0 0
Bill O’Reilly $28 6,752 35 528,884
Danielle Steel $26 322 13 16,014
Jeff Kinney $24 301 16 23,621
Janet Evanovich $24 1,777 36 32,219
Nora Roberts $3 0 0 0
Dan Brown $20 240 44 81,026
Stephen King $20 89 17 254,926
Dean Koontz $20 133 16 10,637
John Grisham $18 0 0 0
David Baldacci $15 736 116 11,065
Rick Riordan $14 3,382 41 234,059
J.K. Rowling $13 29 3 2,828,647
George R.R. Martin $12 0 0 0

All of this data was collected in the evening of January 23rd 2014.  In the time it took me to finish the Blog post Katy Perry (@katyperry) gained 18,926 more followers.  Incredible…

Sources:,,, and of course