As a writer, I have been a member of MySpace.com for several years and have been taking advantage of the social networking opportunities that exist. When I joined, the site had around 70 million members; today it has surpassed 183.7 million members. Many in publishing are realizing the value of making a connection via social networking.
At this year’s Book Expo America, authors and publishing executives shared social networking tips at a session titled “MySpace for Authors and Publishers: Everything You Need to Know to Make it Payoff.”
The panel included Richard Nash, publisher of Soft Skull Press; Barry Lyga, author; Josh Kilmer-Purcell, author; Kevin Callahan, online marketing manager, HarperCollins; Miriam Park, online marketing specialist, Hachette Book Group USA; and others.
Kilmer-Purcell explained to the audience that a MySpace account requires hard work and dedication.
“The biggest misconception about MySpace is that if you put up a page, they will come—and they won’t,” he said.
He built his audience by looking up zip codes where he would next be doing a book signing and inviting people to his next appearance.
“The more effort you put into it, the more you get out of it,” Lyga said. “Now I am getting more friend requests than I can handle … it’s digital networking.”
Nash warned that you can’t just send out mass requests to your potential audience, because MySpace members have a knack for knowing when something is personal vs. spam.
“The beauty of MySpace is you have a built-in audience waiting for you,” Callahan said.
The panel agreed that things that seemed to work were contests where you move your audience off MySpace and offer them something tangible in the real world.
They also felt that making MySpace pages for a book’s character is an excellent way to capture an audience.
“It’s not about selling your book,” Kilmer-Purcell said. “It’s about building a core group. [For me], it’s not about selling a book, it’s about making a career.”
Lyga agreed that you can’t just send people messages on MySpace to buy your book.
“I try not to do a hard sell in my profile,” he says. “It’s just another way to make an impression with your name and brand.”
Park suggests that publishers take advantage of bloggers on the networking site.
“Hit up bloggers and reviewers on MySpace,” she says. “Send out a book to them instead of just sending it out willy-nilly.”