Okay, so here's what I really want to know. Daniel created this great place to meet, blog, swap stories, etc. I've recently been the benefactor of other generous acts. A fellow Five Star author has recently created pages on MySpace and HabitualReader for us. I even have my own page on MySpace as well as a web site for my mysteries. What I want to know is if it's so easy for us authors to find each other on these sites, how do we get readers to find us as well? When I look at all the "friends" I'm accumulating here and on sites like MySpace (and goodness knows I can use all the new friends I can get), 95 percent are other authors. How do we attract readers, dear friends? How do we encourage average consumers and web surfers to read, no, to BUY our books? I thought of making a clever video and posting it ojn YouTube. Like a time lapse video of me pasting all the rejections I've ever received from agents and editors up on (several) wall(s), interspersed with the various covers of my books (demonstrating, of course, that persistence, not crime, pays). But then how do you get people to view your clever video on YouTube? How do we start the viral marketing that will creae buzz for us and our work? Suggestions anyone? Mike Sherer

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Comment by Michael W. Sherer on August 27, 2007 at 10:16am
Thanks for all the dialogue so far. Some great ideas here. One thing I've encountered that some of you web-savvy writers and readers might be able to shed light on is 1) where you find time to devote to blogging, reading blogs, posting on forums and updating your own pages; and 2) where you learn/find the expertise to make your MySpace page look good. I find that it can take so long for pages to load (especially on MySpace, but also here on CrimeSpace) even with cable Internet, that I can spend an hour or two online and get little done. I feel I'd be more productive spending that time writing. Comments?
Comment by Timothy Hallinan on August 27, 2007 at 9:32am
This is a very valuable discussion. With some 4000 novels published every month, and literally billions of websites, the never-ending challenge is how to cut through the noise. And on the Web, it seems to me that the objective should be not just to draw hits but to draw hits from the right people, people who actually buy and read books. I'm working on this right now, with a couple of teenagers who know more about the Web than I ever will, and if we find something terrific, I'll come back and tell you about it.
Comment by Mark Stevens on July 9, 2007 at 12:21am
Mike -- One thing I've been doing lately is send e-mails through myspace to other readers. I've heard people compare my book, "Antler Dust," to a good Nevada Barr mystery. And since it involves the west and the outdoors, it's been compared to CJ Box's stuff and Craig Johnson's stuff, too. And Stephen White ("Dry Ice," "Kill Me," and a dozen other national best-sellers) gave me an incredible blurb for "Antler Dust" (he had to get permission from his publisher to do so). Anyway, I punch all those names into the search engine in myspace and it turns up fans of those authors. Then, I draft a boilerplate note and send it along on. I also look for some other way to personalize each e-mail, looking for some information on their music list or about their hometown or other authors to make a connection. I can easily tell that within an hour or two of doing this I've bumped up hits to my web page and I can watch the Amazon ranking jump from 100,000 to 35,000. I know that only means a book or two but, to me, it's like planting seeds out there. It's worth it -- and kind of fun to make some connections out there in readerland. I keep the notes brief, by the way, much shorter than this.
Comment by Jordan Dane on July 8, 2007 at 9:57pm
Mike--I have an article on my website on how an author can optimize MySpace as a marketing tool. It's in the FOR WRITERS section of www.jordandane.com The only thing not mentioned that I've done since I wrote it--is to add a direct entry spot for your mailing list on the MS Blog page. You'll see how I link my website to my blog & vice versa, but don't make them have to leave your page to hunt down a mailing list sign up. Best wishes to you. (I also did my own videos and posted on youtube and my webpage and blogs. I did them myself for FREE. But I think the ones that do best for that younger crowd are videos like J A (Joe) Konrath. You should check out his over the top BAT video.)
Comment by Lilo on July 8, 2007 at 2:03pm
As I'm not an author (just a lowly blogger) you're free to take this with a grain of salt- but...

I belong to a community of true crime bloggers, and while most of us get visitors to our sites via search engines from people looking for information on a certain crime- we also share readers by having a blogroll displayed that contains links to all the members in the group, and we hold weekly carnivals (one blogs writes a post highlighting recent posts from the other members' blogs). Because most of us have regular readers the visit daily, and those readers are most likely interested in the genre as a whole- we're able to sort of introduce them to other members that way.

Another thing that seems to work well (at least for me) is having guest bloggers come in. I've had a number of true crime authors who've either written on a recent crime or detailed a few highlights from their books, it gives them a chance to get links to their sites out there and gives blog readers a chance to get a feel for their writing style and perhaps fuel a little interest in reading more of their work.
Comment by Jon McGoran as D. H. Dublin on July 8, 2007 at 1:59pm
Hi Mike,
First, thanks for the add. Nice to meet you. I'd have two suggestions about using Myspace. The first is if someone like HappyRuby mentions that she likes mysteries and is "always buying books," make that person your friend and send wishes on their birthday. (Happy Birthday Happy Ruby! Early? Belated? Close?) Seriously, though, on occasions when my brain is too fried to get anything more useful accomplished, I have used Myspace's very lame search engine.
I write a forensic mystery series set in Philadelphia, so I'll search something like: mystery book forensic (no quotes) and I'll get ten billion hits. (No need to check them all. )
Just from the snippets on the search page listings, you can differentiate between those who write "For me, life is a mystery... I never read books, but I do like Forensic Files on TV." And those who write "I love to read a good forensic mystery, in fact, I'm just in the mood to go out and buy a book." Okay, sometimes it's not that clear cut, and it is a very crude tool, but I've met some very nice people with whom I've corresponded and who have bought my book and become fans. The way I look at it, my books are based in my home town, and I know a lot of people here, but it's hard for me to get exposure away from Philadelphia. If I can get a few more readers out there across the country, hopefully they will like the book enough to tell their friends (and then lend it to them ... just kidding). I know this isn't going to have much of an immediate impact, but I think cumulatively it might. And if you have some kind of personal connection with a reader, they might be that more likely to come to a reading when you're near their town and far from yours.
Anyway, thanks again for the add!
Comment by Marta Stephens on July 8, 2007 at 1:36pm
Hi Mike. First, thanks for inviting me into your group. Even though I've just been published for the first time and have much to learn about the publishing business, I thought I'd give you my two cents worth.

I think the most important thing an author can do is believe in him- or herself and then write the best they can possibly produce. A writer has to be willing to talk, post, chat, whatever, about it to everyone and anyone who will listen. The more the better. And ... understand that even writers are readers who have friends and family who read.

My immediate focus began 3-4 years ago when I started to write fiction. I shared my writing journey with readers within my home community, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Many have said they felt a part of what I was going through. By the time the book came out, they couldn’t wait to buy it. If you count the 6 books sold at our local B&N days prior to my signing (these folks told me they bought them ahead of time because they were afraid the bookstore would sell out at the signing) I sold 25 books. They not only bought the book but many have told me they have already passed them on to family and friends and recommended it to others. From a sales perspective, sharing books isn’t what my publisher wants to hear. But as a first time author who isn’t known outside her community, the name of the game is creating name recognition and a following for the series. Based on reviewers’ and reader comments alone, (nearly all have asked about book 2), I think those who have read, but didn’t buy my first book will buy the second one. And I’m thinking what good is a series if you don’t have the set. LOL It’s a slow process but I’m hopeful that my books will eventually have following.


My next focus was the Internet. Another approach that has taken a tremendous amount of time has been to saturate the Internet with information about my book. Networking with other writers has worked well for me, but it's not something that I started to do just prior to my book launch. I've been involved with internet writer groups for several years. We've shared each other's ups and downs and several were there at the finish line and cheered when the book came out in April. I belong to more author groups than I can count, and although I’m not super active in all, I am active enough to meet and get to know people in each. The important thing to understand is that not all the members in these groups are writers. Many join because they love to read and discuss books.

When I launched my website on March 12. I posted announcements in every forum I belong to. I added my web link to my e-mail address and also include it on nearly everything I post. I also have a page on my site dedicated to other website links that have reciprocated the favor. Some of these sites are those who review and sell books. They have a ready audience of readers who visit their site for information about new books and authors. To illustrate my point, to date, I have exceeded 14,000 hits from over 29 countries. In June 2007 I averaged 129 hits a day. These can’t be all writers. Sadly, they didn't all buy the book, buy my point is that you need to continue to post and strive to gain a position on the first page of a search engines.

Word of caution about Internet book clubs. The only negative thing that I’ve encountered was a recent post I made to an Internet book club. The site was recommended to me as one whose members might be interested in learning about my book and my upcoming virtual book tour. I was told that other authors had sold several books via that particular web site and the membership guidelines said nothing about authors not being able to promote their work. Still, I proceeded with caution. I introduced my self and mentioned the books I was currently reading, the genre I enjoy, etc. When I spoke about my person interest, I mentioned “Silenced Cry” but couched it from the stand point of the types of authors who have influenced my writing. When my intro was finally posted, the moderator had cut out all reference to my writing, by book, my website etc. To say I was peeved is an understatement. Nonetheless, I have neither the time nor the energy to argue the point with them, so I bowed out of the place.

Sorry this is so long-winded. Anyway, it’s one person’s approach. Hope some of this helps.

Marta Stephens
www.martastephens-author.com (see :) )
Comment by Jackie Tritt on July 8, 2007 at 1:28pm
I have to agree with you, Mike. How to get readers to buy our books is the biggest problem we face as writers. Even some friends and rellies want to borrow my books rather than pay for them. Books really don't cost much compared with other forms of entertainment like movies and concerts, but not many people see the value in buying them.

So - I can't offer any helpful suggestions, because I don't know. Sorry.
Comment by HappyRuby on July 8, 2007 at 12:50pm
I learn about new authors from several newsgroups. I read Dorothy L and rec.arts.mystery. On rec.arts.mystery we describe what we are reading and if what someone is reading sounds like something I would like I put it on my books wanted list. I think most rammers have a books wanted list that they develop from reading posts and several authors participate as well. I am a reader and do reviews for a couple of websites but I am always buying books.
Comment by Sheri Fresonke Harper on July 8, 2007 at 11:48am
From my marketing classes in my MBA program I learned that you need to offer a buyer something they are looking for--a good story, advice for young writers, knowledge, etc. And that sales require a good venue--be where they want to buy. I don't know if that helps at all and seeing as I've not got my books to market. Reading clubs are primo place to start. :-) Sheri

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