Last night I canceled my chat.
I think there was some surprise, and there was a little disappointment. But I’ve been running it since April, and while it has been fun and I’ve made a lot of friends, I think I managed to get all that I could out of it.
Let me explain.
There are a lot of chats out there.
There are a gazillion chats on Twitter. You can find a chat on any day of the week, sometimes more than one, sometimes even more than two or three or four. There are only so many hours in the day, and writers are busy. When they decide to give up some writing time to participate in your chat, they are giving you a gift. But since there are so many chats on Twitter right now, I was finding it hard to compete. And because there are so many chats on Twitter, it was hard to stay original. Finding topics and themes that weren’t being used by other Twitter chat hosts was impossible. (If you want a complete list of chats and Twitter writing games, look here. Mica does a wonderful job of keeping everything in order.)
I chose the wrong hashtag.
My chat never achieved the elevation of other chats. This isn’t me being whiny, I’m just stating a fact. I had my regulars, my friends who wanted to support me (thank you!), but in all the months I hosted, it never blew up to the epic proportions I wanted. I think this had a large part to do with my hashtag. #SmutChat was a chat for everyone, and I tried to make that clear. But I think lots of people avoided it because they thought we were going to talk about romance or sex, or only the Romance genre, or Erotica. Had I chosen a more generic hashtag, I may have seen more movement. Perhaps if I had chosen to go full-blown smut and only focused chats around that topic, I could have drawn in the romance and erotica writers. I tried to go down the middle of the road, and it didn’t work. That was my mistake.
I was going broke.
At the end of #SmutChat, I gave away a writing resource that tied in with the topic. To me, this was genius; to everyone else . . . no one seemed to care all that much. In actuality, I had to plead with people to enter the giveaways, and there were never more than 6 or 7 people entering the giveaway at the end of every chat. There is so much free stuff on Twitter right now, the giveaway did nothing. I even had one person who won tell me they would get a hold of me when they found an address they were comfortable giving me. I offered the e-book version instead, but they said no. I can only take this to mean the person who won didn’t really want it to begin with, and that book is still sitting on my bookshelf. I didn’t mind spending money on the books and the shipping, but I was beginning to feel underappreciated. That’s no one’s fault but my own, being it was my idea to do the giveaways. I was hoping to set my chat apart from other peoples’ chats, but it didn’t work so well.
I have a publishing schedule I want to keep.
I have three books coming out in the next three months, and I have another book rumbling around in my head that I will write after my trilogy is released. Until they host one, no one can understand how time-consuming a chat is. They are a lot of work. Thinking up the topic, doing the graphics, tweeting about it. And that’s only the prep work. You have actually sit down and do the chat, and sometimes people will answer late, or the next day. As a courteous host, you want to try to touch base with everyone so I would be on the computer one or two hours after chat, and I would also answer tweets the day after. I know this is a counter-argument to the one where I wanted chat to grow even bigger because I would have spent even more time on it. Maybe I would have felt all the time spent on chat would have been worth it then. I’m not belittling the people who did take the time to participate, but sometimes you have to decide if you want to go big or go home. I decided to go home.
Think about what you want to get out of your chat.
What do you want to achieve with a chat? I had chat twice a month, and I would say I spent about 12 hours a month on prepping and the hostessing. What do you want to gain out of giving up that time? Twitter followers? What will you do with your followers once you earn them? Twitter doesn’t sell books, so those followers you gain will do nothing but plump up your numbers. Are you holding a chat to add it to your platform? That was my initial reason. I was doing something tangible that would add to my social media platform. But there again, you’re building your platform to sell books, connect with readers. Putting on a chat doesn’t do that. If you want to just make friends and connect with your followers, then hosting a chat is for you. If you want anything else out of it, think about what else you could do instead. Blog more, put that time into building your website. Write. Having a platform doesn’t do you much good if you’re not writing and/or publishing. Can you get what you want out of a chat by participating in others’ chats? I think with the little bit of free time I’ve recouped from canceling mine, I will participate in a bigger chat where I can still make friends, talk about a topic I love.
In parting, you may think this was just a big whiny blog post about how my Twitter chat didn’t go well for me, and now I’m crying about it. I’m actually blogging about it so anyone who is thinking about starting a chat knows the pitfalls of hostessing/hosting a chat, and what it entails. I appreciate every. single. participant. of my chat, and I have made some wonderful friends during the months I hostessed. I started chat in April of 2017, and I ended it right before NaNo and the holidays could take people away. I feel I ended it on a positive note, and I’ll still be doing chat, in my own way. I’ll be blogging about the topics I want to talk about, rather than holding a chat. I’m hoping this will drive some traffic to my website, and I’ll encourage comments at the end of my posts. Maybe this won’t work either, but like anything in life, if you don’t take risks, you won’t get anywhere. I took a chance with chat, and I enjoyed it. But you have to know when to cut your losses if something isn’t working. Good luck to those of you who want to start a chat. And I’m not disappearing–I’ll still be on Twitter a lot. I’ll participate in other chats and enjoy the hard work I know goes into one. I’ll let the hostess handle the rest.
Tell me what you think!