I am entering #pitchlive and thought it’d be nice to make a twitter list of other participants. I was somewhat surprised at the number of people who *didn’t* have clear /any links to their twitter account on their blogs. I was more surprised that there seemed to be several who weren’t on twitter at all.
Which brings me to what I wanted to say today: IF YOU ARE IN A QUERY/PITCH CONTEST YOU REALLY NEED TO BE ON TWITTER. (IMO being on twitter should also be a requirement for anyone who is a ‘host’ for a pitch/query event but that’s another point entirely).
Why? Because most pitch query contests have developed a twitter hashtag (like #bakersdozen, #agenttreat #pitchlive). AND if you type the twitter hashtag – say #gutgaa – into the search box for twitter you’ll get a list of all the posts using that hashtag. The hashtag is an excellent way to follow what’s going on with a contest. Here’s an example of the types of posts you will see in a twitter feed for a contest:
In the earlier rounds of GUTGAA, when judges voted to see who got through there were many, many tweets on which judge had voted and the current tallies. Keep abreast of what is going on with a contest is one of the reasons I highly recommend being on twitter.
If you’re new at using the internet as a promotional tool, or even if you’re not you may not be aware that most tweeting for these type of contests is done via computers NOT phones. Because I can see a portion of you, and I admit for a long time I was one!, equating tweeting with phone messaging. Not at all the case. Most people who use twitter to chat about contests and their writing use one of two web-based programs: tweetdeck or hootsuite (for those true novices web-based means you need to go to their website and sign up to use them). THEY ARE BOTH FREE. Or at least have a very basic, highly useable free interface.
I use Hoot Suite. What I do is, for each of the contests I’m following I create a ‘stream’ with all the posts. How do I create a stream ?(a stream is a column within hootsuite so you can see all the tweets for a particular hashtag) In the upper right corner of the program there is a search function. I type in the hashtag and a popup window will show me the tweets with that hashtag. At the bottom of the popup window it will ask ‘do you want to save this as a stream? Click ‘yes’ and bam!, it’s done. I can have up to ten streams, which means I do have to choose what I will follow and delete ‘old’ contests once they are done.
Here’s a picture of how it looks on Hoot Suite, I’ve only pictured the feed, not the whole program:
But, aside from keeping on top of what is going on with a contest – which is a very valid reason for going on twitter! – one of the huge benefits of being on twitter is the camaraderie. Let’s face it, writing is something you do by yourself. Finding a place where you can comment and interact with other authors who are going through the same thing you are is wonderful. And, unlike a conference or event, you can go online and catch up on your time table.
So please. If you have a blog and are on twitter, be sure you have link on how to follow you on your blog. And if you’re not on twitter but planning to participate in any of the upcoming pitch/query events please join twitter and let us know who you are! I love meeting other authors!
A side note on twitter names – I suggest picking something close to your writing name. While HotPNRWriter might sound good now, what if you switch to contemporary? or historical with no fantasy elements? While you are trying to ‘brand’ yourself, remember part of your brand is your name, use it. Personally I have two twitter accounts, EllieWrites2 – which is the name for both my blogs and still has my ‘name’ in it, and EllieHeller. And for everyone’s sanity, if you are an avid tweeter think about making separate writing and personal accounts. Your writing account is your professional account, it’s a job, treat it like one. In my opinion it’s important to keep your views on life outside of writing (politics and current issues included!) off your author account.