Some have asked me over the past few months why I am willing to spend so much time and effort on something for which I don’t get paid, so I thought maybe it would be good to post a little about how Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat came about and why I do it.
In October 2010, I went to Columbus, Ohio for World Fantasy Convention. This was my first Worldcon and second con and I was hooked, then saddened to realize that with my financial situation I couldn’t likely attend another Con for a while. There were so many cool authors, editors, etc. there whom I wanted to hear from, so how would I do it? Seeing the rise of chats on Twitter and noting that the only other SF chat happens in mid-day when people are working, I decided to bring the kaffeeklatsch/Con panel to people like me through Twitter and #sffwrtcht was born.
At the time, I was also focused on how important it was to use Social Media in building a platform. I had yet to sign a deal on my novel but I had interest and I knew that I needed to network with the industry and with readers and Social Media was a place I was meeting a lot of them. So I decided part of my platform and the value I would add through Social Media would be this chat.
It was easier to get guests than I initially thought. I asked people I already knew like Sam Sykes, Blake Charlton, Mike Resnick and John Joseph Adams, and they all said yes. The trickier part was working out the approach and dealing with Twitter feed issues, such as lag, etc. I started out just running it as half interview then opening to questions but the feedback I got was people want to be able to just jump in, so I changed the format the second week and it stuck. Ironically, we cancelled our second chat due to technical issues for our guest, Mike Resnick (rescheduled him later), but by the third week, we had our new format taking shape. I also decided to include people like podcasters and marketers and agents if possible to give a broader perspective for up and coming writers on craft and business of writing. So our last guest in December was the Functional Nerds. We’ve had several similar guests since then and although it’s different than talking with authors, I have found it helpful in learning about marketing and other options to communicate about your work.
Ironically, as time went on, publicists started coming to me and sending me ARCS and it became a situation where I was booked three months out and everything pretty much locked into schedule. We’ve had to move a few times to accomodate scheduling issues, which is fine, but mostly stick to Wednesday nights at 9 pm EST, because it seems to be a good midpoint between days people travel, etc.
I basically read the books, write interview questions in advance–working them down to 140 characters including hashtag– and then run the interview and prepare and post transcripts. It does take some time out of each week but I enjoy the reading and I get to help other authors and know other people who may have roles in my career down the line. #sffwrtcht has helped me befriend Kevin J. Anderson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mary Robinette Kowal and many more who have encouraged and helped me, and I am grateful. I get as much out of doing it as any guest so the sacrifice of time doesn’t even cross my time.
In any case, that’s the story. How you can be involved is come, ask questions, spread the word, and let me know people who are active on Twitter you’d like to see as guests. Always looking to expand. We have finally gotten to urban fantasy authors and I hope to get YA and horror in there soon as well. I appreciate all the support and encouragement and hope we can continue to enjoy this together.