Why you should be following J.K. Rowling on Twitter

J.K. Rowling, who is frank and funny on Twitter, took on media mogul Rupert Murdoch on the social media platform -- and won.
(Lefteris Pitarakis / Associated Press)

J.K. Rowling is famously media shy, but on Twitter, she’s forthcoming, witty and opinionated.

Take her recent contretemps with Rupert Murdoch, which showed the “Harry Potter” author’s sly humor and public fearlessness.

Rowling got into it with the media mogul over his tweets in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in France. Seventeen people died in attacks that included the siege of the offices of satire publication Charlie Hebdo, where shooters were said to be shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is Great” in Arabic).


Murdoch tweeted Thursday: “Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.”

Rowling’s response: “I was born Christian. If that makes Rupert Murdoch my responsibility, I’ll auto-excommunicate.” She included a link to a Guardian story about Murdoch’s tweet.

She might have tried to convince Murdoch he was wrongheaded, but in not using the Twitter @-reply function, Rowling made her statement more of a public rejoinder.

The numbers show it was a clear win for Rowling. She scored 25,000 retweets to Murdoch’s 6,200.

But taking on media moguls is only one of Rowling’s Twitter tricks. She jokes around about her authorial alter-ego, Robert Galbraith, the pseudonym under which she writes mystery novels. She recently tweeted about him: “We often take tea breaks together” and “My friend @RGalbraith’s first novel is going to be a TV drama on @BBCOne. He’s very excited, but expressing it with characteristic silence.”

On Twitter, she sometimes reveals how she feels. “I’ve had a very good Writing Day, which always affects me like a couple of strong cocktails,” she tweeted in December.

She also takes to Twitter from time to time to answer reader questions, Reddit Ask Me Anything-style. In December, that conversation revealed there was a Jewish student at Hogwarts. And to the question “What would you like to be if you weren’t a writer?” she replied, “An otter weigher,” with an adorable picture of an otter on a scale (being weighed by an otter weigher).

With more than 4 million followers, it’s clear that some of her fans have learned that when there is Harry Potter news to share, Rowling will share it on Twitter. Often it’s there that she announces new material that she’s written and posted to the online world Pottermore.

And sometimes she’s just trying to set the record straight. In a series of tweets in October, Rowling wrote: “There’s a story in today’s Mail that I was in a London bar on Monday ‘celebrating’ handing in a ‘romantic novel’ to my publishers... 1) I haven’t handed in ANY kind of novel to my publishers. I’m only half way through my current book. 2) It isn’t a ‘romantic’ novel... And 3) (brace yourselves) I sometimes have a drink even when I haven’t finished a book. Yes, that’s how rock and roll I really am.”

Twitter is a place for news, selfie-posting, link circulation, and occasional unguarded conversation from mega-bestselling author J.K. Rowling.

Twitter: @paperhaus