So I did the AMA Reddit thing last night and it was a lot of fun.
It was also exhausting.
Preliminary stats showed something like 500 unique posts in two hours, which they say comes to about 5000 words posted in that time. Oof. There were a lot of people contributing to that, but when you consider a lot of the questions had been posted in advance…yeah, oof.
But don’t worry: I’m not posting this to complain. Rather, I’m going to talk a little bit about what it was like, both since it was new to me, and I figure there might be three other people out there who are interested.
First, some background:
The AMA Reddit is basically a message board where people can post a question and (in this case) the various featured authors can respond. Naturally, other people respond to those responses, creating a dialog. Not exactly revolutionary if you’ve been doing anything on the internet (ever), but a nice format since it also tends to keep thing compartmentalized well. It was also a nice bit of reminiscence for me: I cut my e-teeth on and old intra-net system back in the ’80s called PLATO, which basically worked on a file type set up. Not quite the same, but close enough that this felt familiar. And, of course, I know there are still plenty of bulletin boards and the like out there still running, so this is nothing new.
But here’s the thing: in an age where we text and IM and, yes, even do face-to-face chats via our phones, you forget about some of the idiosyncrasies of a BB style system. You forget that you have to refresh to see new posts; that it takes a good amount of mental work to parse the various threads & see if a new response or question has gone up; that its easy to forget other people are contributing at the same time you are because you aren’t getting the instant feedback we’ve all grown so accustomed to. When you’re doing this at your leisure, checking in now & then, it’s no big deal; but when you’re trying to keep up in the moment? When you’re, essentially, one of the hosts of the party, trying to electronically mingle and chat with the various conversation groups scatter about the electronic room? Then it’s a different story.
I was very lucky last night in that I had nine other hosts to lean on. They both helped cover spots in the conversation while I was busy “chatting” elsewhere, and picked up the ball in sections I still haven’t made it to yet. They also helped spark new points of conversation and provided insights that, alternately, let me examine something deeper, move off in an interesting tangent, give me pause for reflection, of simply say, “Yeah, me too.” It very much felt like a party at a con, with lots of insights and laughs and fun circulating in the mix.
But it was still very much work. After two and a half hours, I felt myself flagging. My brain was getting mushy, and my typing (while never fast nor accurate) was becoming a downright disaster. Fortunately, we were told that two hours is about the peak initial range for an AMA, and I was able to duck out after a bit without feeling too guilty. There are still questions I need to go back and answer, not to mention answers I need to read (there wasn’t time to follow every thread, or at least, not for me), and I expect I’ll be poking away at those for the next couple of days when I need to take a break from revisions.
Overall, I think it was both a fun and successful first outing for us all, and I expect the other authors involved will tell you the same. I loved interacting with the readers, and now even feel closer with the “graduating class” of 2011 debut authors I’ve been hanging out with electronically for the past year-plus.
Sometimes, you hear authors complain about the non-writing work that comes with being a published author: the marketing, worrying about sales, wrangling with your publisher over [insert issue here], answering the same interview question for what seems like the 52nd time, and yadda yadda. And yeah, it can be a pain. But while last night’s AMA was work (and more/different work than I expected), it was also a pleasure.
Will it generate more sales for me? Will it get me a wider audience? Maybe. As with all things like this, there’s no way to know for certain. But ya know what? At this point I really don’t care because, at base, it was a lot of fun–and that’s why I write stories in the first place. So, yes, reddit AMA=work; but it’s very much worth it.
(If you want to check out the AMA reddit thread in question, it will be up here for, well, almost ever, I’m told. )