Let’s face it–we writers want our works to be noticed. Sites like FictionPress, WattPad, and Figment allow us to post our stories online for others to view and critique. But why stop there? The possibilities and avenues of the internet are endless–and certainly a gold mine for writers, if used wisely.
Almost half a year ago, I took a class in social media that introduced me to the term Twitter Chat. But it’s more than a term–it’s a way to create an audience for your short story, your novel, your anything that you’ve written and want to get out there in the public eye–the public that starts with cyberspace that is.
Before I go any further, let’s get into the basics of Twitter Chats:
1. You choose what your topic will be about (in this case, “creative writing”, or maybe you’ll think outside the box and make the topic “dinosaurs”, the subject characters of a short story you’ve been working on). Ideally, the topic should pertain to something your target audience is currently interested in. Search for examples of other Twitter chats. Observe their topics and how they appealed to their audience. Especially helpful is learning from Twitter Chats that didn’t earn much of our attention. Learning from others’ mistakes is one of the most essential tools in helping your own topic.
2. Think of a hashtag. You can search hashtags via Twitter’s search bar–and you type something such as #WritersBlock or #Poetry, etc. in order to see if the hashtag you desire has already been taken by someone else. While you may not get sued by a Twitter user for using their hashtag–though you certainly could if the user’s hashtag is a part of their business and your copy is taking their profits–you are hindering your own notoriety by seeming like the other 3 or 7–or even 10–users using a hashtag. Think of one that no one’s used–and certainly search Twitter to see if no results show-up for it. No results means you’re establishing your unique symbol for tweeting–but it doesn’t stop there.
3. This step is especially important if your hashtag is an odd word such as #Blimurfigluplin. (Woe to the person who gets that desperate–hopefully it won’t be you.) Still, you will need to spread the word of when your chat will be held. Design posters or imagery, record live videos–use any medium you can think of in regards to you spreading the word of your Twitter Chat’s hashtag and what time it will take place. And again, it’s all about your audience. What visuals or strategies do you know will catch their attention? This is what it really comes down to.
Believe it or not, your audience is closer than you think. Your friends and followers on Twitter are especially the people you can ask to join your chat. You know what appeals to them–and you can use that even if most of them aren’t interesting in creative writing. Perhaps your friend who likes to play basketball would be interested in your book on a sports person who helps his team win a championship. And if sports stories aren’t their thing (sports certainly aren’t mine either), they still have other interests that you can make your chat appeal to.
But sometimes you just have to remember the saying “You can’t please everyone.” Sports people, science people, and not even all writers will find interest in your work. But the ones who do will help build your fan base. And remember, they don’t just give to you–you give back to them.
One last tip: don’t make the entire chat comprised of you showing-off your story. Lines like “Who wants to check-out my new book?!” aren’t as engaging to your audience as “This is my book, but how can I make it better?” Not many people will have time to read your story in full either, so you must know your plot and how to summarize it for your reviewers. Also keep in mind that when these chatters give you advice, they’ve technically earned the right to sharing in the profits of your work one day if it becomes a bestseller. (This goes back to the idea of something called crowdsourcing in Ch. 11 of Quesenberry’s “Social Media Strategy” book—crowdsourcing being your audience’s help in making your product or service work efficiently.)
Asking questions that invite your audience’s participation will ultimately work more effectively than telling them how happy you are about your work (even though that is wonderful) when it comes to Twitter Chats. The chat lasts for however long of a time period you specify in your announcements–just try not to make it too long as many people can’t stay on the web for hours and not tend to their non-digital duties).
Your exercise then is to try using a Twitter Chat in engaging with other writers such as yourself. Even if you have no literary work to showcase, worry about it not–but do utilize the chat to teach others and learn from them. Get their advice on how you can improve your own writing skills for the better. The wonderful thing about Twitter Chats is that some of the most famous people out there join them. This goes back to the idea that social media has broken the wall between customer and consumer, average-day person and Hollywood star, beginning writer and best-selling author.
If you want to get your work known, utilizing a Twitter Chat isn’t the only way to do it–but certainly one way to do it.