I have a middle-grade book out next summer, and it was strongly recommended that I start a myspace page for younger readers. But with the most recent news of a mother faking a myspace page to mess with one of her daughter's former 13-year-old friends (who subsequently committed suicide), I'm having second thoughts. What do you all think? Crimespace is social networking too, but myspace is more oriented towards teens. Maybe social networking over the Internet is here to stay, especially among young people, so I shouldn't have such a knee-jerk reaction. You tell me.

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Naomi,
I think its a good idea.

On any site, in any town, in any forum, things like that are bound to happen. On the other hand reaching out to readers has to be a good thing. I say go for it.

Aldo
With you being involved in education and having a lot of kids yourself, your opinion means a lot to me, Aldo! Thanks for the feedback.
Naomi--I love MySpace and have an article on my website for authors who want to optimize their marketing efforts there. Go to www.jordandane.com and the FOR WRITERS page. You'll see the Myspace article.

The one thing I left out in this article is my recommendation to add a direct link to your mailing list on your page. You can also see how I link to my MS blog from my website. And I conduct contests to draw readers to my mailing list or subscribe to my blog. (My website designer charged me $250 to translate my same website design to MS for continuity, but I maintain it.)

Myspace is not just for teens. And the ability for an author to search on book preferences to find "friends" makes this a powerful tool to proactively locate new readers, unlike most blog formats that rely on passive efforts of readers finding the site. My $.02
I'm glad myspace has worked out for you. I've chosen not to do it for my mysteries aimed for adults. I don't want to put in the time to make it worth it. Heck, I don't even blog anymore!

But I've witnessed other authors who been quite successful at it, so I have no doubts that it can be a powerful tool.
Author Brad Listi has over 38,000 friends on MySpace and Barry Eisler has over 13,000+. These are guys that know how to work online promotion. By the comments on their sites, the friends they have are pretty active too. Repeat visits. Pretty hard to beat the promotional aspects of this free site.
Personally i think the days of Myspace are over, or at least close to it. It was a fad. An interesting idea, maybe, but not well executed and diminishing in fashion in favor of Facebook.

It seems like here at Crimespace is a ready made Myspace-esque opportunity. You have crime fiction fans and people who are open to and eager to find new crime fiction authors and books.

I know i'm only one person but i'm young, into social networking and technology, love books, love to try new things, but i'd never buy a book based on someone's Myspace page to 'market it'. In fact, if anything, to me it's offputting because it seems a bit desperate. Trying too hard to capture the youth market and all. I always hated bands trying to add me as friends on Myspace because once one had done it and had some success then everyone wanted to have a go and it soon stopped being new and clever and just became annoying.

I guess with anything, even Myspace, you still have to work it to make it work. But on the other hand, it is free!

I hope i'm not coming off too negative here. Technology just changes so quickly.
Yes, I agree. Myspace is looking a little long in the tooth and by next year, something else will probably be taking its place. (Something on a cell phone platform?)

The way I'm thinking of approaching myspace is to make it more interactive--not like here, read my book, but asking kids to e-mail me images of something they've made (clue: origami cranes figure prominently in the book). It may be more of an extension of my school and library visits.
I'm not sure you understand MySpace by your comments, Jessica. Yes, there are other online spots like Facebook that people are going to, but there are plenty of readers to search through on Myspace with its 212,246,864 members. My online time is limited as it is, with my deadlines, but MySpace holds plenty of opportunity for me. Plus, I don't want to have to learn another online service every time I think a new one comes up, just to keep on the "cutting edge" of things.

I enjoy Crimespace too. It's more laid back and the discussions are interesting. But there is no promotion here. And just because one FREE online spot works better for you doesn't mean others should be ignored for their own strengths.

Don't get me wrong. I don't sell on Myspace. And I don't consider myself "desperate" for sales. (grin) I only interact with folks I enjoy and have fun out there. I leave the selling to my publishing house - Avon Harpercollins. There's a wide range of ages out on MySpace and I'm only after name recognition. If folks sign up on my mailing list and have fun on my contests that I make special on MySpace, then all the better.

Besides new friends, I can't tell you how many TV, radio & magazine interviews, online Q&A, and speaking engagements I've received off MySpace. When I speak on the topic of online promotion, authors are really surprised by what is available for FREE--and how many of these opportunities are linked to give you a better online presence.

But besides all the opportunities out there, I've grown fond of the MS friends I've cultivated over the last year, making MySpace a favorite online activity for me when I'm not writing. But that doesn't mean I spend less time on Crimespace. It's all good. And did I mention MySpace was FREE. (grin)
Well, i do think interaction is the best way and yes, it is all about 'getting your name out there' and not necessarily sales from Myspace (or wherever) but Myspace is, as Naomi says, getting a bit long in the tooth. Kids are very savvy. They hop from one trend to the next. I think just because people have signed up to Myspace and have profile it doesnt mean they use them.

I think Naomi is right to bring up the incident of the mother pretending to be a young boy on Myspace to dupe a girl which led to the young girl killing herself. This is about the age of Naomi's (potential) audience and i think this can only harm Myspace's dwindling reputation especially for users in that age group. Myspace just seems so seedy.

Anyway ... that's just my opinion and i'm by no means an authority!

Those tech-savvy and dedicated YA authors seem to be doing super well. John Green, Justine Larbalestier, Maureen Johnson, Scott Westerfeld and so on. They're all about interaction (on their blogs.) A blog, i think, is a great and almost necessary thing to have. I'm drawn to them and it's how i've found all the YA novels i've been getting into reading lately. Word of mouth is good this way too. Because having been to those blogs, gotten recommendations, read mentions, etc i will then read those books and recommend and buy those books i really liked for the younger people in my life. And so it goes.
I think Jordan has good insight; I also think Ms. Fenner's comment suggests that your best course might be to poll a few dozen kids in your book's targeted age group and see what they suggest about what's coolest for them right now. I hear that it's still pretty relevant.

Like MysteryDawg says, in any group as large as MySpace's you'll get some bad actors, but so do you if you involved more than 2/3 of the US population, which is about the number of MySpace members. Look through some MySpace profiles, which you can do without joining, search for people who read books by authors in your genre--Harry Potter will turn up at least thousands--and I think you'll be surprised at how many decent people post. You will appreciate that lots of folks list their parents first in their heroes.

LAS
Polling sounds like a good idea. Yup, I've perused myspace profiles--especially those which have mentioned my books (!)--and there are plenty good folks who use it. I just get pretty emotional at times and hate to think that someone would take advantage of the anonymity of the format to hurt or damage an adolescent. I know, I'm naive.
Online predators are out there. One of the reasons I write so much about them in my crime fiction work. But I try to keep truly personal stuff off my site. Younger kids don't understand this, unfortunately. Wish I could protect them all, but that's not possible. Your idea on an interactive blog is brilliant. I find most success when I allow my friends to respond to a fun survey or post fun videos--letting them be the star.

"Selling" your work is not a good overt thing to do in any forum. If people have an interest, they will seek you out. But in the mean time, reach out and touch the ones who are there--no matter what online service you use. It's fun and can be safe if you follow precautions.

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