Tweeted novel bought by publisher

In an earlier post, I posed the question whether tweets are protected by copyright. I concluded that the vast majority will not be protected by copyright, but I specifically suggested examples that, in my view, would be protected by copyright:

  • A poet publishes a longer poem on Twitter, one line at a time — each line being a separate tweet;
  • An author publishes a novel on Twitter, one sentence at a time (bearing in mind that many years ago, books were often originally published in serial form, in weekly instalments — including works by Charles Dickens — so publication on Twitter might be a way of taking this to an extreme!).

Well, it looks like it’s happening. GalleyCat reports that an author, Matt Stewart, has published a 480,000 character novel, entitled “The French Revolution” on Twitter, and a publisher — Soft Skull — has bought the book on the strength of that.

I say well done to all concerned.


4 Responses to Tweeted novel bought by publisher

  1. Matt Stewart says:

    Heya – Matt Stewart here, author of the aforemention The French Revolution. Before I started my Twitter project, I consulted with my dad, who’s a lawyer. He ran the idea by the IP team, and it turns out that so long as I wrote “Copyright Matt Stewart 2009” on the first tweet, I was ok.

    That said, the reality is it’s a real pain in the ass to string together a story off tweets. It’s hard enough to get people to buy and read regular books – getting them to reformat and then read (and potentially sell) tweets is out of the question. The barriers to entry are just too high.

    That’s the inside scoop – carry on!


  2. Bernie Nyman says:

    Hi Matt.

    Good to hear from you with your side of the story.

    Looking at it from a UK law point of view, whilst it makes good sense to put a copyright notice like “Copyright Matt Stewart 2009″ or the first tweet, it’s not actually necessary under UK law to get full copyright protection in the UK.

    Good luck with the novel when it actually comes out in book form.

    In view of what you said in your comment, I take it that you might not be tweeting your next novel!

    All the best
    Bernie Nyman

  3. […] September 22 tags: Publishing, tweeted novel, Twitter by Digital Dame I just found this over on Publishing Law Guru’s blog and thought you might find this […]

  4. msbaroque says:

    There are also a few – I mean, probably quite a few – poetry, Twitter haiku, etc, projects. I wrote a little 140-character poem for one of them. I even worked & worked on it to make it work – which it never really did. I wasn;t thinking about copyright, but Twitter doesn’t save things forever, so I think it’s lost now, anyway.

    Matt, just finishing a project like that is really impressive! Good luck!

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