Social Media and Gods Without Men: an experiment.

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'Tell us something we don't know' graphic with lots of eyes.

 Back in the 90’s, when modems were slow and day-glo orange was an acceptable eveningwear color, I used to work for Wired magazine. A friend of mine from those days, Azeem Azhar, recently founded Peer Index, a company that aims to provide a way of measuring online influence. He was recently interviewed about it in the New York Times.

A few weeks ago Azeem approached me with an offer to conduct an experiment. My novel Gods Without Men is coming out in the UK in August. Publishing wisdom has it that the only truly reliable way to get people to read books is through word of mouth. I think that’s true. As some of you (particularly if you follow @harikunzru on twitter) know, I use social media a great deal. I discover much useful information by following smart people on twitter and Facebook. I use this network as a filter, and I’ve come to rely on it. It’s rapidly becoming my main source of news. So it makes intuitive sense to me that I should trust that same network to put my novel into the hands of people who will enjoy it, and perhaps recommend it to their friends. 
This is why some of you, based in the UK, may be getting an offer to sign up to receive an early copy of Gods Without Men. Peer Index have used their technology (based on eigenvectors, which also form the basis of Google PageRank) to identify a group of influential people who have some connection either to me, or to the themes and ideas in the book. The first list, unsurprisingly, had rather too many fiction writers and book journalists on it, so we weeded it and added some other names. As I say, this is an experiment. It’s a way of testing a hunch about social media, and acknowledging that professional literary journalists (excellent as many of them are) shouldn’t be the only gatekeepers when it comes to literary fiction. 
I like the idea that the book will head out into the world in this way. It feels democratic, and I’m intrigued to see what will happen. I hope you don’t find it intrusive or offensive to be ‘pitched’ like this. Our list was based on publicly-available information, and won’t be used for anything else. So, if you get a copy of the book and like it, please talk about it. @ me on twitter or comment below if you have any questions or reactions.
You can find out more information about the campaign here (when it's live I'll add a link).