The Virtual Fan

Last night, after much promotion, I held a virtual reading at a site called Shindig. Kind of like a mix between a group Skype or a G+ hangout, Shindig allows writers (or anyone for that matter) to talk to a lot of people from different places at the same time. It also allows them to interact with you or with each other but without too much noise. Or “noise.” I promoted the event on all of my social media channels. I promoted the shit out of it. Even on some ┬ásocial media channels I hadn’t visited in a while, like VYou and Audioboo.

I think I got about 100 people. I don’t know what the final number was. My computer crashed about two minutes in and I’m sure I lost a boatload of people when that happened. Like you know how if you go to a zoo and you come across a cage and you can’t find the animals no matter how hard you look and if you can’t find them you give up and you move on? Like that. Being kicked out of my own reading by the vicissitudes of technology was awkward and a part of me wanted to just leave my desk and go grab a beer. I’m glad I didn’t. I had a thoroughly great time. There were people from all over the world attending the event. Fans of my work (more on this in a bit). Friends. I don’t know who (the only ones I’m sure of are those that asked questions) and 24 hours later I’m still discovering people who showed up. I read this story and then answered questions. I had a great time. Both reading (save for the computer crash) and answering the questions. The whole thing took an hour. It felt like ten minutes.

My view as the reading is about to start

But thinking about the turnout you kind of realize how hard it is to convert one group of readership (in this case my Twitter followers) into another kind of readership. It’s humbling, the work involved, the sustained amount of work one needs to embark and confront in order to create a true fellowship of people. Fans are beyond marketing and PR. Creating a following is work and takes boatloads of authenticity.

At the same time, the people who showed up last night were fans and I have to acknowledge the oddity of having fans in the first place, all for doing something that is as natural as breathing. That’s what writing is. Or at least my writing. I just have to do it. And to have readers – strangers – be fans of this work is still a weird, weird thing to me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everyone who reads my work. Well, I can. I just did.

I’d like to do a Shindig again at some point. When I have something else to read. Something new. I heard from so many people who couldn’t come. Who were too busy, who were in different time zones – some were on the other side of the world. Man, time zones are inconvenient.

As a writer every once in a while you are confronted with how weird the idea of readers who like you is. Because it is. Weird. And beautiful.


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