Attracting readers and making Crimespace a special place for them was always something I wanted out of this virtual bar of ours. I began with a starry-eyed vision of authors and fans mixing it up in the stalls together, united in a common love of all that is crime fiction.

But it doesn't seem to be working.

I've noticed that there a number of readers who have joined up who aren't quite as vocal as us writer types. I think this is partly the nature of the beast -- writers write and readers read -- but I'd like to see if I can do something to improve on the situation.

One of the features of this site that I've been reluctant to add is that of Groups, a way to band together with like-minded Crimespacers. Groups can exist within Crimespace and have their own Forum and list of members. I've had a number of ideas for particular Groups myself, but I won't mention them just yet.

Have a peek at Library 2.0 to see what I mean by this whole Group thing. You may see that my reluctance towards the feature comes from the fact that most of the Groups only have 1 or 2 members.

Still, one good thing about Groups is that I can choose which ones to feature on the main page, so at least this way I can pick the more useful or popular groups to put the spotlight on.

If this all this talk about Groups is just gobbledy-gook to you, then if you have any other suggestions for changes to Crimespace, feel free to drop me a line in this thread, or send me a message with your thoughts. This site has a limited set of features, so it may not be possible for me to fulfil your requests, but I do want to make Crimespace rock even harder than it does already.

Yes, I grew up in the 80s.

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Sounds like another vote for an author per month feature. I don't think this would take over the Crimespace niche, just add a little extra flavour.

And you're welcome, Margot. :)
Oh, wow, the internet monster ate my post~~

To summarize:

A discussion section about authors and their books sounds good to me.

Posting short fiction sounds interesting. It would give readers who honestly might never contribute to discussions a chance to read work by authors they might not come into contact with otherwise, besides give us all a chance to keep in touch with what each other is doing. Posting links to short fiction on other websites might be an alternative, but it's been my experience that most people won't follow a link to get to the story but will read it if it's immediately available on the forum. If there's a problem with space, the stories can be posted for a particular length of time, and then archived on the authors' own sites.
I kind of like that idea too. I wander how much contribution it would get though, since the author might decide to publish the story elsewhere. Although your link idea might get around that. I can't speak for anyone else, but I follow links.
A lot of very short fiction doesn't really earn the author money, so it might not be a problem. But it depends on what Daniel wants to do, as it's his decision to make.
I dunno, you could just start a thread where people can post stories. That wouldn't require anything extra.
Umm. There are publishing restrictions even with material that is posted on the internet for free by the author. Such a story may lose the chance to be sold later to a print publisher. Even stories posted on Amazon Shorts cannot be sold elsewhere. So check this out carefully before putting up your stories here.
Yes, you'd have to make sure it was something you wouldn't mind possibly giving up future publishing rights for. But a lot of authors post free short stories on their own web sites. I figure this is something along those lines, anyway.
My vision for the stories on here would only be for flash fiction, no more than 700 words. Most authors seem quite happy to give this away for free. It's a taste of their style that can lead to more fans, and it's also a chance to experiment with material that wouldn't make it to a novel.
I do have a plan for this. In fact, I came up with the plan a few months ago and I'm still waiting on a particular feature to be implemented. Tribe's old Flashing In The Gutters had the formula right and I think it's possible to (almost) duplicate that here.

Stay tuned.
I dunno the answer to this Daniel, but if you decide on trying the posting-short-fiction option as Steven suggests, I'd be happy to add some content and I bet most or all the authors who enjoy this site will feel the same.

Like Ingrid, I tend to only comment on the writing posts because I'm writing all the time, and the problems of doing it are what consume my time, even more than reading. You've laid out everything here perfectly, so I don't think it's an organizational issue, nor do I think it's an issue of you missing any special features.

I suddenly wonder, though, if, because of the prevalence of writers, some readers are too intimidated to take part in the chats? I have no idea, just a thought.

Anyway, Crimespace truly does rock, and with time it may turn out that the audience will define its content and whatever you do won't make any difference. In which case, you can always start charging admission. That'll certainly alter the demographic...
I'm glad to hear that you'd be willing to contribute to the short fiction section, Olen. I may very well just call on you to do just that.

"some readers are too intimidated to take part in the chats"

Whether it's intimidation or lack of interest, I think there's some truth to this. I'm going to see what I can do about it.
I suddenly wonder, though, if, because of the prevalence of writers, some readers are too intimidated to take part in the chats? I have no idea, just a thought.

Olen, you have hit a nail on the head. I had an email from someone I know off of DL just yesterday, and it opened my eyes to something that I had forgotten. I remember first going on lists years ago and feeling stupid and intimidated around these people who knew so much, or were real authors.

This person relayed something that had happened to them recently on the list, where they posted an opinion about a book, and a very well-known author posted something in response. I'm not going to disclose details - all that matters is that the topic was an opinion. Imagine if a reader said, "I'm not really interested in reading about Scooby Doo because I don't believe dogs can solve crimes" and an author responded with "Well, I've talked to several police officers who have told me that dogs can make a critical difference in solving a case." Sorry, silly example, and the real scenario was different... All that mattered was that the reader told me they felt intimidated for having expressed their opinion. They seemed to feel like they were being told it was wrong.

When I read that, it took me back to how I felt four years ago. I don't know if we have any readers lurking here who do feel intimidated expressing an opinion, but I think it's something we always need to be sensitive about.

For that matter, we writers (theoretically) have more practice expressing opinions in writing and backing up our opinions. To a reader, do they need to analyze why they do or do not like cozies, amateur sleuth stories, cat mysteries, hardboiled or PI stories or anything else? No. They like what they like, or dislike what they don't like. And they don't have to justify that to us or anyone.

I'm trying to remind myself when someone says, "I tried the latest book by Author X but I just can't get into her stuff" and I'm a fan of Author X's work, to not start gushing up the author. It's fair to say, "Sorry you didn't enjoy that book. I really liked it." But if you post, "I can't believe you didn't like that book! It's the best book that's been published this decade...(blah blah blah)" I can see why the original poster might feel a bit defensive/intimidated. We often don't mean to come over as though we're criticizing an opinion, but we do have to be more aware of the possibility of doing that, I think.

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