Social Networking and Authors' Sites - Any recommendations?

Our upstate New York Sisters in Crime chapter, Mavens of Mayhem, is meeting this Saturday. I promised to present something about blogs and social networking sites, about which many of the members are still phobic, and I'm looking for feedback and recommendations from this group.

Crimespace is my favorite, and I'm currently familiarizing myself with Facebook. I also belong to several lists, including Murder Must Advertise, Dorothy L, and blogbooktours, but I rarely check them - too much to do, too little time.

Do others find these sites worthwhile, and if so, which ones? Or do they just eat up your time with little or no return value? Additionally, I'm wondering about the value of Facebook as compared with MySpace. It seems getting involved with both would be too time consuming. And what about authors' group blog sites? Do they work, and how do you direct readers to them? Are you just talking amongst yourselves?

Thanks, I look forward to your feedback!

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Please read my blog SPEEDING DOWN THE INFORMATION HIGHWAY. Other useful sites are Crime Spot, Authors Cyber Village, and Book Masons.
Thanks for the recommendations, Sunny. I tried to find your blog and couldn't. Is it on Crimespace? You have an excellent website, by the way - I added it to my favorites.
There are a few sites where unpublished writers can put up opening chapters and obtain feedback from other participants. I've used them each at one time or another. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. Here are the links:

http://www.youwriteon.com/
http://authonomy.com/
http://www.critiquecircle.com/default.asp
Facebook is way better than Myspace, but I think they're both a waste of time. Avoid Myspace at all costs. Myspace is a trend that is over; it's only useful if you have a band and want a cheap website for it. All it consists of is a bio page, a blog, and a comment section. All you can do is leave comments to people. And the design of people's pages is terrible.

Facebook is better, but it quickly devolves into constant status updates by "friends" you've collected but don't really give a shit about. It's good for keeping in touch with old friends, a kind of online address book with a lot of useless features, such as applications and games you can send to each other. But as far as networking, I think Crimespace is much better because it is more centralized.

With Crimespace, everyone has a voice, which gives it a better sense of community then any blog can. Take Murderati, for example. It's a blog where a select group of people make posts. If you want to contribute, you have to do it in the comments section. But on Crimespace, you're not limited to that. If you have something to say, you can make a blog post and say it. Or start a forum discussion. Crimespace has "community blogs", which means everyone posts to the same blog, essentially. Your blog shows up on your member page, but it also shows up on the homepage, so you know when you make a blog post, it will get read. What that does is promote a sense of community where everyone has an equal voice.

Of course, with any social networking site, you get what you put into it. Crimespace has almost 2,000 members, yet only a couple dozen actively contribute to it at any one time. You can't just sign up and make a post about an upcoming event involving yourself, and then go away, and expect people to care. You have to actively contribute to the discussions in order for anyone to care about what's going on with you professionally. If you never contribute here, then I'm not even going to read your post about your new book coming out. However, when John McFetridge, for example, announced his new book coming out, that was news to me, because I know who he is. He's taken the time to discuss things with me on here, so I care about what happens to him. Not so with someone who never comes on here except to promote themselves.

So that's the best thing you can present, if you as me. A social networking site, whatever it is, will only help you if you contribute to it. You have to put the effort into it and develop some real connections with people. It's not an easy ticket to self-promotion.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply, John. I agree with what you say about Crimespace, and I'll check out Murderati. I'm new to Facebook, and I'm already concerned about its addictive properties.
Julie,

I invite anyone in your groups to come and check out my web site at www.brstateham. com

And if you're looking for a neat web site with a lot of interesting writing in it (all genres), go check out AuthorNation.com
I belong to a couple author sites where you can post chapters and query letters for critque. The problem with the large sites is you have little background on the credentials of the people performing the critiques. In many cases the comments are overly biased. This causes an author to destroy an exceptional piece trying to respond to the comments. Another item of concern is the polishing of query letters on these sites. It produces a query which entices a request for a partial or a full. The manuscript which has not gone through the same process is frequently a waste of time for the agent/publisher. That steals away requests for well writen manuscripts.

Smiles
Bob
There is nothing requiring an author to act on the feedback received. An author ought to come to the sites recognizing this fact, and recognizing also that the sites shouldn't substitute for learning via reading literature, learning via reading published how-to books, or learning via classes.

As to the query letter polishing, it can't steal away requests for pages for well written manuscripts if the writer of the well written manuscript also writes a strong query letter. At any rate, better query letters are what the agents want. They've given enough instruction on the topic at writers conferences and in writers mags to make that clear.
Never make a change unless you truly like the suggestion.
Thanks for all your replies. I put together a handout for the meeting, and I've copied and pasted it into my blog on Crimespace. I incorporated some of your suggestions, though I haven't had time to check them all out yet. When it comes to the suggestions for the critique groups, though, I won't go there! However, I do recommend them if they're good. I belonged to an online critique group organized through Sisters in Crime several years ago, and it was enormously valuable.

I hope people will continue to send comments and suggestions in regard to which sites are most useful to you.
I posted about internet promotion two weeks ago on JungleRedWriters:

http://www.jungleredwriters.com/2009/02/dana-stabenow-makes-us-need...

I said a little about Facebook, and I could have said a lot more. I tried MySpace and found it too hard to use. My webmaster made me get on Facebook, and wow! The perfect interface with fans. Family and friends are just a bonus.
Wow! Clearly I have a lot to learn.

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