How To Use Google+ Hangouts

Ever wish your writing group or book club could include readers from around the world?

Last night we experimented with the Hangouts section of the new Google+ social network, coming up with some simple tips for using Google+ Hangouts to connect with readers and writers online. Using Google+ Hangouts, writers can quickly assemble spontaneous but private conversations in “live multi-person video” chatrooms.

On GalleyCat, we are building a directory of Writers Who Want To Connect on Google+–add your name to the list. If you have a Google+ account, just follow this link to set up your own hangout. The video embedded above illustrates how video chats work in the network. Our tips follow below…

1. Test to make sure you have a strong Internet connection. Your writers group or book club will be frustrated if you can’t connect.

2. Make sure everybody in your group has a Google+ account. They won’t be able to see your Hangout invitation unless they have an account.

3. Google gives you three invitation options, so choose carefully. You can: invite only select friends by email addresses, invite select groups of friends through Google+ Circles, or keep it public so anybody can join. If you are looking to build a new group, we recommend using the public setting.

4. Once the chat is open, look at your Google+ stream. If you click on the time stamp, you can get a URL for your hangout–click here to see a sample. You can share that URL on Twitter or your website, bringing others into the discussion. Add a comment as well, explaining what you will be talking about in the Google+ Hangout.

5. Make sure everybody gets a chance to talk and introduce themselves before you start. You can type conversations with the instant message chat function inside the hangout. You can also watch writing tutorials, book trailers or other YouTube videos with your whole group.

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