Hello to all my followers and this week’s #AuthorToolbox drop-ins! Maybe it’s a New Year’s Resolution thing, but in the past few weeks, I’ve had about a dozen people ask me to promote their new hashtag game. It’s my “job” to do this, but it’s starting to get tiring. Everyone and their BFF seems to think they can host a game, and with the Twitter writing scene fast becoming flooded with these things (there were over TEN daily games in December alone, not including the dozens of weeklies), I think it’s time I post my thoughts, both as a host and as a promoter.
What You Get
Let’s face it: you are considering hosting a game because you want some form of notoriety. You want to sell your book, or build a platform, or become a household name on Twitter (if you are doing it just for funsies then this article is not for you). The sad fact is that people aren’t going to buy your book or donate to your Patreon if you host a daily/weekly game. They come cheap. Everyone is doing it.
If you’ve been around a long time – think #authorconfession or #WIPJoy or #1linewed – then maybe you’ll generate some sales if you do a successful book launch alongside your established game. To summarize, you are going to have to become well-known over a long period of time in a flooded market if hosting a game is going to benefit you in the least.
So you just post a theme word and let the game sail away into popularity, right? Haha, no. I envy your naivete. Roughly half the games and chats I promote – even from established Twitter personas – die out. The #1 reason? Time commitment.
The market is so packed with games that you have to reach out and pluck players from the ether by sheer invitation. As a newbie, you have to respond and engage with every single early Tweet. Otherwise there is no way in heck that you are going to ever generate the kind of numbers that will benefit you monetarily… and those are high.
Do you make friends doing this? Definitely! This is where #FriDare has truly helped me. I’ve now got a nice little circle of friends that’s relatively tight-knit. This makes it worth it for me to run #FriDare: I have people I enjoy, who also enjoy me. However, it’s not like I’m swimming in new friends, and I could make just as many friends by selecting someone else’s game to play every week. And that would save me the time of setup and management. I keep running #FriDare because I learn from it and laugh from it and see the same faces there weekly… but not because it makes me money.
Want to attract more participants by giving stuff away? Good luck. You’d be blown away by how little people want to engage even when there’s free stuff on the line. This is especially true of digital freebies, but it’s still relatively true for gift cards and physical items. Sometimes offers of editing will get you somewhere, but that’s about it. You may have better luck with more followers or more credentials, however.
If You Still Want To Run a Game…
So you still want to run a hashtag game, eh? Here’s my personal advice on the hashtag game scene:
- Use a short, catchy hashtag. Seriously. Why tag your event #WIPforthewin when you can tag it #WIPftw? Why tag it #WIPftw (a random letter assortment) when you could do the catchy #WIPwin? Don’t make a game with the first tag you think of. When in doubt, come up with four short ones and make a poll.
- Be simple. The more complicated the game, the fewer participants you will have. (This will be fine if you want a more intimate community.)
- Be consistent. If your game runs every Tuesday, then post every Tuesday. Be clear about your post times and stick to your guns. If you skip a day, post to let people know.
- Do your research. My list of daily events will tell you how many games and chats happen each day. Spring for days with less competition. Some people start a game without knowing how many others exist.
- Have followers. You wouldn’t believe how many people with 120 followers think “I’m qualified to start a game.” You barely know how Twitter works. You have no starter base. You don’t know what a “handle” is. Learn the basics before tackling the big stuff.
- Post beforehand. Post your theme a day or more before the day of your game. If someone searches for your theme and can’t find it, they won’t participate. And some people schedule these posts ahead of time. On @writevent, I only promo events day-of when they have their themes down by 11pm the day before. Many don’t.
- Engage. Posting your theme image (or worse, your theme line of text) and then walking away isn’t going to work, especially at the outset. Reply, RT, Like, read.
- Limit the sexiness. If it’s an erotica game, be extra oblique, or you’ll get swarmed by porn. This was the fate of #ThrustyThursday. Even #FriDare gets porn sometimes because apparently “Dare” is sexual. Limit this by choosing an anti-sexual name.
- Tell people when you quit. This is common courtesy (especially the people promoting for you, hint hint smack). At the very least, post “#WIPwin had a good run, but we’re done. Thanks for participating!”