HARRY Potter creator JK Rowling has been named Scotland’s most influential author on Twitter – ahead of Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin.
The Edinburgh-based writer has more than 5.8 million followers on the social networking site, far more than any of the nation’s other writers.
However, researchers also looked at how much each novelist engaged with other Twitter users and the regularity of their tweets, as part of the study for the Scottish Book Trust.
Released ahead of Scotland’s annual celebration of literature, the list of the top 50 tweeters saw both Welsh and Rankin beaten into third and fourth place respectively by the comic Brian “Limmy” Limond, who released a short story book this year.
Other writers in the top ten include former Belle de Jour blogger Brooke Magnanti, who now lives in the Highlands; Glasgow comic book writer Mark Millar; and teen publishing sensation Estelle Maskame, from Peterhead, whose first book was published a year ago.
Rowling, who regularly enters into political debate and takes on many of those who abuse her for backing the Better Together campaign in the run-up to the referendum, is second only to DJ Calvin Harris when it comes to Scots boasting the most Twitter followers. He has 6.62 million at present.
Broadcasters turned novelists John Mackay, Neil Oliver, Kirsty Wark and Andrew Marr all made the top 50, along with the singer and musician Aidan Moffat, who has released a children’s book. Rankin’s fellow crime writers Val McDermid, Christopher Brookmyre, Denise Mina and Peter May were also rated strong enough users of Twitter to make the list.
Danny Scott, the book trust’s social media manager, said: “The authors at the top of this list all interact with their audience and aren’t afraid to offer an opinion, or, indeed, be themselves.
“In many ways, the research proves authors are becoming as much of a commodity as their novels.”
More than 450 events will be held across the country during the annual Book Week Scotland initiative, which runs from November 22-29.
Trust chief executive Marc Lambert added: “The list is a mixture of artists, children’s authors, crime writers and journalists, reflecting the dynamism and diversity of the Scottish literary scene. They are all harnessing the power of social media to stimulate discussion and debate books.
“This is exactly in keeping with what Book Week Scotland is all about – reaching out to a wider audience and encouraging people to discover and enjoy the benefits of reading and writing.”
A search for the nation’s favourite literary quote for Book Week Scotland is under way after a 40-strong shortlist was published by the Edinburgh-based trust.
Contenders include lines from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Dame Muriel Spark and The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg.