Twitterview: Interview Your Authors via Twitter

By Laura (Ross) Pexton, Peachpit Press

With authors spread out all across the globe, we rarely have the opportunity to sit down with them and ask them the questions that their readers and fans are dying to know. The Twitterview not only makes that possible, but also presents the opportunity to showcase the author and their expertise to a wide and captive audience. So what is a Twitterview?

A Twitterview is an interview conducted via Twitter. @Peachpit has hosted several of these with their authors and transcripts of the entire interview are posted afterward:

Twitterview with Rahaf Harfoush
Twitterview with David Ziser
Twitterview with David DucChemin

The Twitterview is a useful publicity tool that can introduce an author to a wider following, provide an interactive and entertaining way to learn more about their book, and create a personal connection between the author and their readers.

If you’d like to watch a Twitterview in action, tune in on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 11am for a @Peachpit Twitterview with @MoosePeterson, author of the new book, Captured: Lessons from Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer. For more details, check out this blog post.

How to Set It Up

1. Contact the author to determine availability. The best times to conduct a Twitterview seem to be Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for approximately thirty minutes – one hour at some point between 11am- 1pm PST.

2. Select a hashtag to accompany all your Twitterview tweets.
This can be the book title or anything that is short and fairly uncommon. For example, for a Twitterview with the author of the book Within The Frame, we used the hashtag #WTF_QA.

3. Alert fans and followers and solicit questions. Write a blog post telling your followers how the Twitterview works, the Twitter names to follow, and what they will learn. Then ask them to submit their questions for the author as a comment to the blog or via Twitter or Facebook. You can offer a free copy of the author’s book to anyone whose question gets used during the Twitterview. This gives them an incentive to ask a question and also tune in for the Twitterview to see if that question gets asked.

Let fans know how to easily follow the Twitterview action. For example: “To tune in, just follow @Peachpit and @pixelatedimage. You can even set up a Tweetdeck group with just those 2 tweeps and follow along or search for this hashtag: #WTF_QA.”

Then share the link to that blog via Twitter, Facebook, etc. (and encourage your author to do so, as well). [more]

4. Brief your author on the Twitterview process in advance.
Send another email to the author, confirming the date and time and offering instructions on how the Twitterview will work. Provide examples or transcripts of past Twitterviews and ask them to make sure they are following you in case you need to send them a DM (direct message) during the Twitterview.

Send the author as many questions as possible in advance. Crafting exactly what you want to say in 140-characters can be tough, so it will help the Twitterview run smoothly if they already have these responses prepared.

5. On the day of the actual Twitterview, ask questions via Twitter or Tweetdeck, but also keep an eye on the conversation around the hashtag associated with the Twitterview (either on Tweetdeck or at http://www.search.twitter.com). Ask the author a question, wait for a response, acknowledge that response, then ask another question. 30 minutes – 1 hour is a good time frame to keep in mind for this. Depending on the audience and subject matter, it can take a little time for followers to realize what’s going on or feel comfortable joining in.

6. After the Twitterview, try to keep that great content and author interaction alive by posting the transcript in a blog post and letting followers and fans know that even if they missed it the first time, they can read all the responses and relive the magic through the blog.

Check out the examples and give it a try. Just think how wonderful it would have been if you could have asked your favorite author a question via Twitter. What if you could ask Mark Twain why he his story ended a certain way or how he got interested in writing? Twitterviews can be a wonderful way to inspire and connect with a whole new generation of readers.

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