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?