Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wanna be my friend?

I know, I know. You just want to write for teens, not become one again, right? Yeah, not gonna happen. You have to hang out where the teens are. And lucky for you, you can do that right from the comfort of your own house.

There are tons of social networking sites. MySpace, Goodreads, Jacketflap, Twitter, Shelfari, Facebook, Friendster. I could go on and on. They all offer unique ways of connecting with readers. For the purpose of this workshop/blog, I am going to focus on MySpace. MySpace is a goldmine of potential fans of your work if you just know how to find them. Here are some tips to get you started.

Your MySpace is L-A-M-E a/k/a Tips on creating teen-friendly pages

While the Buzz Girls can all appreciate your Burt Reynolds wallpaper and your choice of ‘Hungry like the Wolf’ for the song on your page, teens are going to think you are lame with a capital L. You have to treat your page exactly like you do your teen novels. Pick songs, backgrounds, and icons that teens will appreciate. You can still express yourself and your individuality just do it in a more teen-friendly way so that you can attract more friends. Save Burt and Duran Duran for your personal page, because your family and friends already know and appreciate how lame you are.

My favorite place to find cool layouts: There are hundreds more just type MySpace layouts into any search engine and it will give you tons to choose from.

Phishing- Tips for keeping yourself from becoming bait.

Take the time to go to every single person’s page who sends you a friend request. Make sure it isn’t some generic page set up to send you spam comments a hundred times a day!

Copy all of the code from your page into a Word document in case someone messes with your page.

Check on your page daily to make sure everything is okay.

Ever click on a link sent in a message, especially from someone you don’t know.

Just friend everybody, no matter how tempting as it is to click APPROVE when someone sends you a friend request. Remember that you are going to be reaching out to teens. You wouldn’t want them hooking up with some freak they found off your page.

Six degrees of Meg Cabot- How to get the friends you want!

I love friending other authors as much as anyone else, but that isn’t who the target audience for your book is going to be. You want to reach teens that are going to be interested in YOUR book. It doesn't really make sense to have twenty-thousand friends if none of them read teen fiction. Here are some tips on how to find them:

Most social networking sites, especially MySpace, have several teen lit groups. Join these groups and post bulletins, comment on posts, and friend the other members.

Say your book is about vampires. Type vampires in the search field and see what pops up. Probably a lot of people who have interest in vampires and could potentially become readers of your books. You have the potential to reach thousands of readers you just have to use your imagination.

Visit the pages of authors that write similarly to you. Friend the kids who take the time to comment because those are usually the die-hard readers looking for new books all the time.

Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? All about MySpace etiquette.

So, you’ve finally got a cool page and some teens have actually friended you and said they would buy your book. That’s it, right? WRONG! Some of these teens are actually going to want to be your friend and talk to you on a regular basis. They will be your biggest cheerleaders so don’t ignore them.

Always send a thank-you when someone adds you or requests you to add them. Try to comment about something on their page so it doesn’t seem generic.

It’s hard to keep up with birthdays but I think it is really special when you can do it.

Don’t send those generic comments that go to everybody just trying to pimp your book. They are totally lame and will get you de-friended in a heartbeat.

Don’t overload your friends with constant bulletins.

You can also find booksellers, librarians, and reviewers at MySpace. While social networking sites are definitely a time commitment, they are fun and super-beneficial to growing your career. I hope these tips are helpful and get you on your way.



ps- Friend me.


Me said...

Great advice, Steph! MySpace etiquette is soooo important.

TinaFerraro said...

Fantastic advice, and I hadn't thought about keeping a copy of my codes--thanks so much for that!

And thanks for reminding people about posting "too many bulletins." That's a pet peeve of mine because when I sign in, it's the first thing I look at, and when I see 5 or 6 in a row from the same person, I know he or she is just bored, and immediately disregard content. But the single bulletins I consider important!

Marley Gibson said...

Really great advice! I love MySpace and have met so many wonderful people there. = )

Anonymous said...

I didn't think about making a copy of the code, either. Where do I go to find all that? What do I need to copy? I'll have to do it becuz I've heard about pages getting hijacked. I just made my site to look exactly like my author site.

I'll have to look more into the teen lit groups, though. I probably need to friend more of those (although I've got librarians, book reviewers and the like). Thanks for the suggestions.

Can I forward this info to my publisher (if they link back to you, of course)? They have a blog and on Tuesdays, they're going to have tips on marketing, promoting, publishing, writing, that sort of thing...

stephhale said...

Link away, Celise! From your home page on MySpace you go to EDIT PROFILE to get your codes. Thanks for stopping by.

Wendy Toliver said...

Good MySpace tips, Steph!

Heather Davis said...

Steph --

Burt Reynolds wallpaper is a no-no? Just great. Now I have to re-do my myspace...

I too hate the over-bulletining that happens. A bulletin now and then with important stuff is fine-- but jeez -- nine a day makes me want to scream. Good advice, S.