Whence Rowling’s Twitter Silence?

J. K. Rowling has the largest twitter following of any author, steady at 14.7 million, but she has — with one brief marketing note last month and two re-tweets in March — been silent on this mega social media platform since January 2019. In May I posted three reasons I thought credible as explanations for this silence: personal problems, a court ordered injunction, and, hope driving argument, a decision to write novels and screenplays (or novels instead of screenplays!) rather than waste her energies on ephemeral politics. She was, after all, becoming a popular target for the social justice cognoscenti to berate for her insufficient woke-ness.

The thought occurs this week in light of the PotterMore rebranding as WizardingWorld.com and the advent of the Harry Potter Fan Club and its $75 Gold Membership subscriber’s fee that the more obvious reason of monetary gain may explain Rowling’s departure from the platform as well as any other. Yes, this is post hoc propter hoc reasoning, a logical fallacy, but just because something happens after something else does not mean that the first might not be the reason for what follows.

The theory is simply this: the bean counters employed by Rowling to maximize her income from her various interests and copyright material advise her to consolidate her property under one umbrella, ‘Wizarding World,’ and to monetize the PotterMore website. They urge her to desist from her posting on twitter because her acerbic and fiercely partisan political posts simultaneously offended millions who do not share her “progressive” views and gave away access to her writing and thinking to those who didn’t mind the bad language and uncharitable posturing.

Ceasing to post on twitter, in other words, would create scarcity for those hanging on her every word while at the same time allowing those on her political right and left the time necessary to forget their differences with her and return to thinking of her as “just the Harry Potter lady” with all the fun memories of the reading and film experiences they enjoyed. All these groups, be they the unquestioning fans, the super-vigilant police of the Politically Correct, or those who voted (egad!) for Brexit or Trump, would be more likely to buy Gold Memberships if she would just shut up for, say, ten months, if not the indefinite future.

Considering the blows being delivered to her brand via over-exposure late last year, her commitment to her legacy charities, and the lack of any effectiveness of her tweets in moving those not already convinced to share her position, I doubt Rowling, if this ‘follow the money’ explanation of her departure from twitter has any relationship with reality, would have wept at the cost to her of following the advice. She gets her life as a writer back, her critics are effectively silenced for lack of new material, and there is the promise of a huge payday by the holidays.

Say 1% of her twitter followers become Gold Members of the new Harry Potter Fan Club at WizardingWorld.com. That would be 147,000 people who pay $75 each year for the foreseeable future to get worthless pins and inducements to purchase or visit other products and properties or just over $11 million annually. Now go ahead and use more realistic figures, say 5% or 10%, and do the math. Volant Charities and Lumos will be funded in perpetuity and Rowling’s remarkable goals of finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis and of placing institutionalized children into homes with families have that much more chance of becoming reality.

And perhaps this is the best way to think about all this for those of us who find the $75 cost of access to Rowling’s Potter material more than a little galling, which is to say, make it a contribution to her charities rather than to Rowling, Inc.

What are your thoughts? Does this ‘twitter silence due to maximizing monetization’ theory pass the smell test? Will you be paying the $75 fee? Do you think Rowling will ever return to daily tweeting?


  1. Joanne Gray says

    I’m afraid my honest answer is that I won’t be paying the $75 for a gold membership and I really only miss getting her Twitter updates about the progress on the books she’s currently writing. Although, I also enjoyed it when she changed her Twitter headers (her indicators) to what she was currently writing.

    If she would just put out periodic announcements about the progress of the books she is working on, and that hopefully such announcements would not require paying $75 to hear it–I would be quite happy if she has decided to leave Twitter entirely, since it’s such a devourer of time and very often basic civility.

  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Query from Beyond the Twitterverse: when has JKR exhibited “very often basic civility” in tweets other than “periodic announcements about the progress of the books” ones? Sometimes? Never? Any salient examples? Many a vile one has been well documented…

  3. Joanne Gray says

    Hi David,

    To clarify, I was referring to Twitter in general as being “a devourer of time” and also a devourer of basic civility”. I did not mean it as defending her times of not using basic civility when sometimes addressing others, especially on political issues. My interest in her tweets were whenever she engaged her fans on the progress of her Strike novels—which she did periodically–the last time being Nov. 23, 2018.

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