Thursday, April 05, 2007

Welcome to MySpace

Lately it seems I have been having numerous conversations with clients about the use of MySpace in publicizing their books. Some feel its audience is too young for their writing, while others are just intimidated by MySpace in general. And yet others have embraced it wholeheartedly.

Last week, author Barry Eisler wrote an extremely effective piece on how MySpace can best be used, and not used, for promotion.

In reading between the lines of what Barry Eisler says, I’ve come to discover that one of the reasons I think MySpace might make some authors nervous is that it takes you out of your comfort zone. Let’s face it, most authors are solitary individuals. You spend most of your day alone, in front of the computer, and many of you would call yourself introverted. The last thing you want to do is get out in public to publicize your book. You don’t like to speak in front of crowds and you certainly don’t want to strike up conversations with strangers just to hand them a bookmark. Maybe that’s a little stereotypical, but I think in the grand scheme of things we can say that about most people. Unless you’re a publicist or marketing professional you don’t get a rush from promotion, especially when you’re forced to promote yourself.

So why does MySpace take you out of that comfort zone? Because, as Barry Eisler points out, in order to truly make MySpace work you need to seek out potential readers. No longer is publicity just mailing bookmarks or letters. You actually need to hike up your pajama bottoms and dig through the trenches of MySpace to find potential fans. In fact, MySpace requires you to do what all successful publicity and marketing campaigns should do: It forces you to get in touch with your readers and to reach out to them first. It requires you to really strategize and think beyond just bookstores and reviewers to people passionate about the type of book you’re writing and its hooks.

So what’s my suggestion? Whether or not you feel that MySpace is the place for you, if you really want to make sure your money is well spent when it comes to publicity and marketing, you need to get down and dirty. Quit sending thousands of bookmarks to random addresses. Instead get in touch with gardening clubs to promote your gardening mystery or wine lovers to promote your Napa Valley-set romance. In other words, do the legwork to find the readers who will actually feel a connection with your book. It might take a little more effort up front, but I bet the rewards will be bigger in the end.

For those of you doing your legwork and already have established MySpace pages, I wonder whether or not it’s working for you. If it is, what are you doing to make it work? Are you, as Barry Eisler suggests, seeking out potential readers, or are you simply waiting for them to come to you? Have you noticed a sales bump since you launched your MySpace page? And for those of you who surf MySpace, what do you notice that attracts you or doesn’t catch your attention about an author or her page?



Kimber Li said...

I had a hard time getting started on MySpace because all the flashing graphics and advertisements are visually irritating. I finally found a good layout for it, but I don't surf around MySpace for this reason. I also have a writing schedule and an established blog which take priority in my computer time. For me, MySpace has been great as another way to let my friends know about upcoming reviews and such on my websites and blogs.

Excellent columns both, Ms Faust and Mr. Eisler!

Shelli Stevens said...

I was one of those who hated MySpace, thought it was just for teenagers. Then I sold my first book and took the plunge. Started a page.

I love it! It's free and has so much marketing potential. And you're right, you have to get out and seek out readers. Your potential audience. I typed in keywords, searching for people who read romance and especially erotic. I added a lot of people that way, and try and comment to them every now and then. Keep my name out there.

It IS a comfort zone thing. I gave a workshop at a conference in the fall, completely outside my comfort zone, but that was fifty more potential readers I just brought in. And my sales showed it afterwards :) You have to step outside the comfort zone, or you'll just be one in many, many authors.

Sorry. Rambled.

bhadd said...

A lot is asked of people who take the time to manufacture books, that is to say write them. However this may in fact make them better at their jobs. It will only work if authors buy into it, and even then you are milking a horse a little bit.

The Hood Company

Jean M Fogle said...

I really enjoyed this post since I have been considering joining My Space. Having sold the book, I am now freaking out about promoting it.
I bought a book by Steve Weber titled Plug your Book! It has a whole section on MySpace and why you should join it.
I went to join and it took a while to even find where the info on joining was. I am now planning to join .

David said...

By accident, I recently discovered a way to use one's blog and Web site for publicity. Or maybe that should be notoriety.

I have a number of essays on my Web site, mostly expressing my leftist politics. A rightwing Web site discovered one of the essays a few days ago, got very upset about it, and posted links both to the essay and to my blog. The hit counts on both went through the roof. A hostile comment or two showed up on the blog, as well.

Now, whether any of this will result in book sales is questionable. After all, the people viewing those pages are hostile before they even click the link. But it has turned out to be a way to get the URLs out there; the hit count has remained higher than it was before.

Spy Scribbler said...

I'm on MySpace, if only from peer pressure. I love the idea, but it's hard to make "real" connections. Some days it feels like one is just perpetually adding friends.

In that respect, I like the blogging world better.

Btw, lainey, I totally agree. Barry Eisler is really good at reader relations. I keep thinking that it's too bad I wouldn't have the heart to pretend to be a complaining reader. I would love to get a peek at his Outbox. I bet we'd learn a lot!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I've been on myspace for a while now. To answer your question about sales-yes, I've gotten increased sales and reviews through my efforts on myspace.

Personally, I'm turned off when I load a page and am blasted with music. I turn it off or leave the page. That's why I don't have music on my site. But I think a lot of surfers enjoy the music.

Monica Burns said...

Excellent post. I was reluctant to join MySpace. (Actually kicking and screaming was more like it). However, in the time that I've been on MySpace, I've come to realize the power of the medium.

I belong to MySpace groups that enjoy erotic romance as well as historical romance. I'll be expanding my reach into the paranormal soon as well, so there's a whole NEW and HUGE audience there as well.

It's tough for me to reach out to potential readers, because I feel like I'm begging, and I was taught to NEVER beg. *grin*

But I do it in what I hope others see a polite "cold call" and I use a touch marketing strategy. I'll ask someone to friend me, plus send an email with an explanation of who I am and why I'm asking to friend them. I always select potential friends based on a quick scan of their MySpace page, and what groups they belong too, as well as the authors they've listed as friends.

Most of the time, people respond positively. As a result, I've gotten readers to email me and indicated that they're going to try my books. I've been using this marketing strategy for the past two months, and since the start, there's been a huge run on my books. I've done the same thing on Amazon, and it's garnered me a number of nice reviews that I probably wouldn't have gotten otherwise because I'm still relatively unknown to the mass market audience.

What's really tickled me about the MySpace deal is that my newsletter numbers have shot up without any advertising at all. You have to actually visit my site and cruise it to find my signup page, so I know people who're signing up aren't doing so for a contest, they're actually interested in my books. Yeehaw!


Randy said...

I'm a newly epubbed author with a Myspace page, and I see it as another arena in which to toss my PR hat. HOWEVER, from what I understand, one of the biggest promotional tools afforded by Myspace is its capacity to reach all your "friends" with bulletins (announcing your release, a contest, whatever). Two things about that. First, I can't bring myself to send one out 'cuz I feel like I'm just spamming everyone, and 2) I don't read the ones I get, so I'm not sure how advantageous they are. Like anything else, in its infancy, Myspace was probably a whole lot more effective. Now that "everyone's" got a page, I figure the over-exposure has diluted its usefulness.

Kate Douglas said...

I'm at MySpace, and what I like about it is the new audience it allows you to reach. I've had some wonderful emails from new readers who have found me through the site. It's also a great place to post my new video trailer! Anything that gets your name in front of a new set of readers with a minimum of cost and effort is good, IMHO. I don't go trolling for friends, but generally I approve anyone who invites me.

Kate Douglas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.