Update on the Day I Went Viral

Remember this?

Four days on from the original tweet and the crazy bandwagon is running out of steam. It passed 6000 retweets a couple of mornings ago just after breakfast, but by that point it was already slowing to a trickle and since then I’ve actually been able to check my mentions without getting caught in the crossfire.

What have I learnt from this?

First of all, I still have no idea what makes a tweet go viral, but I have a bit of an idea about what prepares a tweet for being picked up. I think what was right about this one was that it was concise and on point, and also on a subject that people have strong feelings about. I also feel (perhaps controversially) that if I’d been sensible and added a link to where anyone could go and buy the book, it wouldn’t have taken off in such a way. There was a rhythm to the quoted text (and, if you’ll forgive me, my comment) that would have been disrupted if I’d done that. Or perhaps that’s just the poet in me trying to justify his existence.

Ultimately, however, it was dependent on people with celebrity status (a) reading it and (b) bothering to run with it, and that’s the part that was completely outside anyone’s control.

Still, even though I left the purchase details off the original tweet, the exposure did help sell a few books:

Amazingly, I also sold a copy of Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens (the first for ages) to a chap in Germany. This was almost certainly on the back of either this Twitter activity, or perhaps David Gerard’s subsequent blog post (where he generously linked back here), or possibly an unexpected mention on Charles Arthur’s Overspill blog (where I inevitably noticed an egregious typo in his excerpt from my post).

I learnt some interesting stuff about the cryptocurrency community. I don’t think I’d appreciated the extent to which the whole thing is driven by rightwing libertarian politics, with any perceived technological advantage retrofitted to align with that. Perhaps I should have guessed this when I heard James Delingpole (the only person who’s ever blocked me on Twitter – make of that what you will) shilling for Bitcoin on the Jeremy Vine show a while back. The whole thing is basically a questionable idea based on questionable software and promulgated by questionable people.

Blockchain, on the other hand, is merely what happens when a misguided PR campaign acquires sentience.

Still, as with any bunch of technological zealots, these folk don’t half enjoy an argument, and it was often quite hard disentangling the various skirmishes carrying on in my mentions. I gave up following it all in the end, only bothering to respond if a particularly silly insult got flung my way. Most of these had a tiresomely ageist slant, and the problem with that is that it’s way too easy just to tell the perpetrator to grow up.

I did learn that to be a NOCOINER (especially a BITTER NOCOINER) is definitely a BAD THING:

There was also this guy with 220000 followers who deployed more of a scattergun approach:

Good candidate for weird random list of the week, that. Especially as David Gerard actually turns out to be of Aussie origin (obvious really, given that he’s a dead spit for Clive James, finely-honed wit and all).

As ever, there were a number of tweeters who missed the point altogether. The most charming ones were the ones who came up with their own examples of books with better final lines. There were also the ones who complained that the book couldn’t be any good because the final sentence came on page 140, which made it LITTLE MORE THAN A PAMPHLET. Inevitably, at least one person replied to this by pointing out the names of several classic novels that made their point in 120 pages or less. For a brief glorious moment or two, these people allowed me to entertain the fantasy that I was back in literary Twitter, which was nice.

There were also – inevitably – a number of responders who complained about the gender bias of the quoted final sentence. Now I can sort of see their point, although I tend to go along with the majority of the folk who replied to them who pointed out that the conman referred to would indeed almost certainly be a conman and not a con woman. There’s a reason why they’re referred to as “Bitcoin bros”.

The strangest moment of the week was when I ended up sharing a joke with Count Arthur Strong:

Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat.

Do I know how to do it all again? Not a bloody clue, mate. Not a bloody clue.

Either way, you have no idea how much MATERIAL I have acquired. Everything is research in the writing world. Everything.


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