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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Ah, Laura--I knew you'd understand. Good to see your smiling face. Hope the writing is going well for you.

Yes, you can search proactively for the readers that would best fit your book. That's an advantage Myspace has. And there are varying ages out there--a diverse group to choose from. Having solid customer leads is a good thing, but you still have to keep them coming back, which means time spent in keeping your site current and interesting. All online activity takes time, if it's done well. You might consider paying someone to maintain it, but it should be someone you trust. I haven't resorted to this, but I know other busy authors who do. And being busy writing is a good thing.
Like any social networking site, MySpace has it's seedier side, but I would disagree with the premise that it is "more oriented towards teens." There are tens of thousands of adults on MySpace who use it for a variety of reasons - social networking, clubs, hobbies, reading groups, etc. I do think it is a worthwhile venue for trying to reach readers.

Because of the continued growth of MySpace, we've seen a number of new social networking sites emerge. I doubt very much it's going away anytime soon, and we will continue to see new, similar sites try to take some of the marketshare.

I use MySpace, Technorati, YouTube, Gather, Flickr and a variety of sites to cross market. Yes, it takes time but I like to find new areas to cross promote and reach readers.

Felicia Donovan
By "more oriented towards teens," I meant that myspace attracts more teens than a niche-focused social networking site like crimespace would. Musicians and bands were the early ones to fully utilize myspace, I believe.
I'm amazed that MySpace took off like it did, considering the ancient technology it was using right from the start. I guess it's like one of those strange attractors of chaos maths in that so many people were drawn to it. I've avoided MySpace like the plague simply because I cant' stand the look of its pages. That, and the total anarchy of spamming.

But if I had a book out I would seriously consider using it for promotional purposes only. The other social networks that have sprung up since MySpace took off seem to be more geared towards actual social networking rather than promotion, but like MySpace, as more people come on board, that will change. Hopefully not too much.

Interesting thing about Crimespace is that now that there are a number of more popular networks on Ning, we get almost no blanket-spammers, and much more people who are actually interested in crime fiction.
You've got a really good site here, Dan. I've loved CS since I've joined and love the laid back feel to it. I recommend it on all my speaking engagements and it's listed on my Resources Links handout. The focus on crime fiction is really good too. CS is one of the guilty pleasures I indulge in when I'm supposed to be writing--LIKE NOW. And the templates and formats are so easy. No training required.

Like you said, different online services suit different needs. Felicia brought that up too and gave several more sites that she uses. I'll have to check them out when I've got the time. It's all good.

As for the look of MySpace, my designer dropped my same design into my blog for a minimal fee and it looks great. I maintain the MS site and have gotten used to the code, but it's definitely more complicated than your easy breezy site.
It works for Bev Rosenbaum really well. Try checking out her page.

You have control over what you do, and you have control over what goes on your page (you can moderate all comments and stuff). You don't sound as crazy as that mother, so you should be fine, LOL!
Yes, the YA authors really have it down, don't they? Thanks for the lead on Bev Rosenbaum's myspace site.
You might be interested in this Pew Internet and American Life report on teens and social networking. My sense is that Facebook is more popular with kids than MySpace, but I'm not really sure. There's a ton of data in this research study of social networking sites, but it's all based on 18-19 year olds enrolled at one large, diverse institution. There are some ethnicity/educational attainment figures that are interesting.

Facebook is exploding with new members, growing much faster than MySpace, but they have just introduced a new advertising policy that is pretty obnoxious. Up until now I've much preferred Facebook but it's starting to be as annoyingly cluttered as MySpace (which, personally, I hate).
I would take any studies of MySpace with a grain of salt because of the ease with which members can and do change their real age. A young friend of mine who is still in his early teens just e-mailed me that his friends are all changing their ages to 21 because of new policies MySpace has instituted. Sometimes at the "real" job, I have to locate MySpace or FaceBook accounts of individuals. I learned a long time ago to disregard the age because inevitably, it's false.

Felicia Donovan
I totally agree with this. All the news reports I've seen recently make me laugh when they talk about data that supports age surveys on myspace. It just demonstrates their lack of understanding the topic.

Personally speaking, I feel pretty spry at 99 years old.
I don't get the impression that MySpace is for teens at all-- I have a couple hundred "friends," and not a one of them is under 25. Perhaps, as Jessica points out, the young people have moved on, leaving MySpace for those of us above drinking age.

I've gotten publicity requests through MySpace, and connected with many fans (as well as writers I'm a fan of myself.) Yes, it's a marketing tool, but it's also fun. I spend 10-15 minutes there every day, sometimes just surfing around to see what people are saying about themselves.

Barry Eisler has lots of great information about writing-- and I think that's why people keep coming back to his page. I'd say do what you want to with MySpace-- but approach it as something you enjoy, rather than a task. An author who is only there to sell books probably won't be that successful-- because, as Jessica has also pointed out, MySpacers are pretty savvy to an overload of self-promotion.
One of the things I don't like about these social networks is that they're hermetically sealed. If you create lots of stuff in there, it won't show up in search engines; only members will see it. (unless it's linked out to somewhere else, as sometimes Crimespace discussions are picked up in blogs outside Crimespace). Maybe in networks with 8 billion members that doesn't matter, but it's a funny aspect of these networks. And posting the same stuff in several places so you can share it with different groups is kind of tiresome.

I'm also not crazy about putting lots of content into a box owned by Rupert Murdoch which he will use to generate matching advertising and income. I know - that's life in the 21st century. It's all owned by Rupert and his friends, and it's all about advertising. But I still don't like it.


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