Monday, January 22, 2007

Keeping up With the Joneses

I began this blog last April in the wake of selling my first novel. Every author, it seemed, had a blog, a way to interact with readers and fans, keep them abreast of news and events, and allow insight into the writer's mind that wasn't available on Amazon. There are a huge number of authors who blog, from newbies trying to get published, to authors early in their careers, to major bestselling authors with millions of copies in print.

I also put up a
MySpace page, again mainly because everyone else seemed to have one and I didn't want to leave any stones unturned. Many authors and publishers try to use MySpace to promote their work, often creating MySpace pages for specific books or even characters. It has gotten to the point where publishers often cite MySpace in promotional plans (which in my mind is like promoting a needle in a haystack).

A while back people noticed how Dane Cook used the internet to help his popularity skyrocket, through his MySpace page and the spreading of viral content, specifically the video of him mocking Tom Cruise's couch-jumping. Every recent article on promotion says companies are diverting their marketing efforts to the Internet. But how much of this is revolutionary, and how much is merely following the pack?

I found this interesting quote from Nick Denton, who had this to say about Gawker's much-hyped and highly-funded Internet competition in 2005, ''I'd be more worried if a no-name site run by a no-name journalist suddenly emerged, much in the way that Gawker did two years ago.''

Having a MySpace page these days means very little, as there are well over 150,000,000 individual users. Hard to stand out on a website whose population is 20 times the size of New York City.

Same with blogs. Back in the day authors like Diana Gabaldon were Internet pioneers, interacting with fans and posting excerpts of upcoming works, greatly increasing their visibility in a universe where standing out was as simple as existing. Now? There are something like 80 million blogs. There are more people "existing" than those in the dark.

As soon as something seems to work, it immediately becomes inundated to the point where unless the creator does something drastic to stand out, it's just another drop in the bucket. So many authors put up videos on their MySpace pages. Conduct interviews on their blog. Offer contests and other content that drives traffic. At the Google summit, J.A. Konrath talked about the difference between hunting mice and putting down tempting cheese and letting them come to you.

But with so much cheese out there, in millions of different sizes and flavors, how does a an author make theirs stand out?


Blogger Graham Powell said...

Authors can only stand out by being themselves. Look at Lee Goldberg. His blog has probably introduced hundreds of people to his work (he has the advantage of working in established franchises, for the most part).

He is consistently interesting and funny, and I would read his blog every day even if he wasn't an author.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Spy Scribbler said...

You know, I'm not exactly sure what one is supposed to DO on myspace.

I have to say, that I get so many bulletins that it feels like spam. So ... does it really help???

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're gonna have to bring it back to basics for a while maybe. Getting reviews, interviews, media exposure until the next thing pops up.
That being said, I sent you a friend request Jason! And congrats on the book! I'm looking forward to reading it.

10:15 PM  
Blogger DanStrohschein said...

This is a problem I've wrestled with - how to stand out in a world rich with information (good or bad). It's a conundrum, I tell ya. I agree with Graham, it's our uniqueness that bring people to us, but how do you allow people to "discover" you amongst the millions of terrabytes of data out there?

The only thing I have come up with is KEEP posting GOOD content that people want to read/interact with. If you're good enough, your popularity might continue to grow.

7:17 AM  

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