Since Twitter is text-based and instantaneous, it’s the perfect platform for authors looking to connect and engage with their readers on a more personal level. Literary heavyweights and newcomers have thrown themselves headlong into the community, dispensing words of advice, arguing the finer points of their works, and fending off criticism.

Here’s our look at seven popular authors on Twitter. Just don’t judge them by their profile pics.

1) Neil Gaiman // 1,749,790 followers

The man behind The Sandman, Stardust, and Coraline has legions of fans, and he’s not one to forget about them. Gaiman regularly interacts with and retweets his followers, and he often dispenses words of wisdom gleaned from his colorful life.

Gaiman’s one-half of a Twitter power couple, as wife Amanda Palmer has almost 600,000 followers herself. The pair ran a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, which they used to record their joint music/live-reading shows.

“Because I can lie beautiful true things into existence, & let people escape from inside their own heads & see through other eyes. #whyIwrite”

Oct. 20, 2011

2) Meg Cabot // 124,054 followers

Cabot is perhaps best known for writing The Princess Diaries, adapted into a fairly popular Disney flick of the same name. On Twitter, she seems a world away from royalty and high society as she shares tales about her life (and cats).

“So Katy Perry can't wear a little Tinkerbell outfit on Sesame Street, but it's fine for Elmo to run around without any pants? I'm confused.”

Sept. 23, 2010

3) Rebecca Hamilton // 66,738 followers

Hamilton writes paranormal fantasy, horror, and literary fiction, and she claims to have “multiple writing personalities that range from morbid to literary.” Sophia’s Journey, the first entry in her series The Forever Girl, was one of the biggest-selling novels in Amazon’s occult section in March. She interacts with fellow writers on Twitter, shares witchcraft factoids, and tweets details of her son’s reading habits.

“1542 King Henry VIII passed Witchcraft Act. His 2nd wife, Anne Boleyn, was accused of being a witch.”

Aug. 8, 2012

4) E. L. James // 111,684 followers

Whatever your opinions are of 50 Shades of Grey, there’s no denying that James has created an absolute phenomenon. There’s something about a worldwide bestselling author using the word “laters” that just stands out. She’s a popular figure on Twitter, partly due to the popularity of her books and partly due to her friendly, down-to-earth nature. That said, we know what’s going on in that mind of yours, James:

“Men's synchronised diving... how did I not know about this until now? #Olympics”

Aug. 1, 2012

5) Cheryl Bradshaw // 15,541 followers

She may be a mystery novelist, but there’s no puzzle as to how Bradshaw grips more than 15,000 followers. She’s very personable, asks questions of them, and thanked everyone who wished her a happy birthday. Bradshaw shares writing advice too, and she doesn’t hold back when she gets good news:

“Stephen King (yes, THE Stephen King) just approved my use of his quote in my next novel. This has got to be one of the best days EVER!!!”

Jan. 26, 2012.

6) Margaret E. Atwood // 338,195 followers

Booker Prize-winner Atwood has embraced Twitter with open arms, posting almost 12,000 tweets over the last three years. She’s not oblivious to the reason why many authors use Twitter, questioning the effect of social media usage on book sales, but there’s more to her Twitter account than that.

She retweets terrifying tales of honeybee home invasions, science stories like artificial jellyfish being made from rats, and fellow writers’ crowdfunding campaigns. There’s a sense of curiosity that comes through her tweets and RTs, which make her well worth following.

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library...”

Aug. 1, 2011

7) Bret Easton Ellis // 320,758 followers

The man responsible for American Psycho is opinionated, unafraid to speak his mind, and never boring. That, along with his profile as a popular writer, has helped him pull in hundreds of thousands of followers since joining Twitter in April 2009.

“After seeing Drive today was told: ‘Sorry, babe, but I'd leave you for Ryan Gosling...’ My response: ‘Um, babe, I'd leave you for him, too.’”

Sept. 22, 2011

For hundreds more authors and literature-related accounts to follow, check out our Twitter list.

Photo via @megcabot/Twitter