Case Study: Investigating Adam Korenman’s Ask Me Anything

Six months ago, I was charging toward publication with renewed vigor.  I was querying agents, I was communicating with publishing houses, and I was going to get published.  Within a few months, a friend of mine from grad school posted a notice that her husband had his self-published novel picked up by a publisher, had signed a book deal, and was holding book signings.  It really caught me by surprise, because I wasn’t aware of Adam’s passion for writing, and it coincided with a period of time where thoughts of publication lingered in my mind’s eye.

Adam Korenman, a onetime YouTube personality who has served our country in the US Army, initially self-published When the Stars Fade, the first book in The Gray Wars.  In December 2015, it was picked up by Rare Bird Books.  He has sold at least 3,000 copies of his book, and has 40 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4.0 out of 5 stars.  There are some critical reviews, yes, but most of the reviews show a general enthusiasm for his book, and an interest in the next book in the series.  With less-published authors, you often need to take the good with the bad surrounding reader feedback, and this is evident in the Amazon reaction to Adam’s book.

A few weeks ago, Adam hosted an AMA on Reddit.  For those of you who aren’t on Reddit, an AMA is an “ask me anything” session where a person responds to the various questions that may arise.  They can be absolutely off the wall.  Adam’s audience generally stuck to the book, or the process of writing, and Adam shared his enthusiasm with the readers.  As mentioned, he is a veteran, but he also displayed his ‘geek cred’ by shouting out Joss Whedon’s Firefly to describe the actors that he would love to cast in a Gray Wars movie.

I enjoy reading interviews with authors, because I always feel like I learn something.  I might not be able to immediately apply something, but I can at least appreciate drawing from somebody else’s experience.  Of course, there are some items that influence me or reach me more immediately than others.  When I joined in on the AMA discussion, Adam had already shared a few items that stood out to me.  As I’ve reread those questions and responses, there are a few highlights that I’d like to share below.

  • Adam claims an amazing 160,000 words in 8 weeks. That’s nearly 2,900 words per day.  I’ve had periods of high productivity, but even when I’m focusing on upping my word count, I’m falling short of that volume.  During the 2016 NaNoWriMo event, I averaged 2,120 per day.  Granted, I was working a full-time job and that was one of my busiest quarters to date, but the fact remains that I was shooting for high word counts and still fell short of Adam’s pace.  He admits that what he churned out in those eight weeks was not his best work, but at least those words are committed to the page!
  • Adam is one of those writers that I view as a step ahead of me. He’s published, I’ve submitted to publishers.  He is promoting his published work, while I am drumming up interest in order to convince publishers that my books will sell.  Adam went through the self-publishing route, and enjoyed the creative liberties that it allowed.  He “chose [his] own cover artist, [and] made all the creative decisions.”  Now that he’s working through a publisher, he’s ceded some of the freedom of telling the story, but he now has others who help spread the word about his book while he focuses on writing new content.
  • Adam’s advice for me (in a matter of speaking) was to get out there. He didn’t have a proper website until after he self-published, and he lamented that he did not have that in place beforehand.  This is an important aspect of brand strategy, and is something that I am working on, as well.  This blog represents my nascent attempts at self-branding.  I haven’t started work on a website yet, but it’s definitely on the list!

To sum what I’ve learned from Adam’s AMA: it was a great way of getting his name out there and interacting with his fans.  However, it is limited in the sense that the product needed to be there first in order for him to have any credibility. I think Adam was fortunate in the sense that none of the questions that I saw were entirely off the wall, and these are many of the questions that I would expect if I was hosting an AMA about as a published author. As far as I could tell, there was nothing vulgar, and nothing incendiary, which is better than I expected after seeing threads throughout the Internet. I have toyed with the idea of drumming up interest via Reddit, and it was interesting to see Adam’s interaction.  It would be great to hear his thoughts on the process, as well as how effective it was in promoting sales.  However, a Reddit AMA is not something that is in my immediate future; without a clear product on the market, I worry that it would be feeding the trolls.

A big thanks to Adam Korenman, author of When the Stars Fade, for humoring me in his Reddit AMA.  Check out his book and blog! See the links below.

For Adam’s personal website:

For Adam’s book: When the Stars Fade

For Adam’s AMA, click here

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