Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Casting Your Net

I just joined a few more online billboards.

This means, besides my blog and website, I'm maintaining 12 other hubs on the Internet. If you're curious, here are all the links:

Joe's Amazon blog:
Joe on Facebook:
Joe on CrimeSpace:
Joe on Goodreads:
Joe on ITW:
Joe on LinkedIn:
Joe on MySpace:
Joe on RedRoom:
Joe on Shelfari:
Joe on Squidoo:
Joe on Twitter:
Joe on Wikipedia:

Some require more maintenance than others. MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter lead the pack, needing to be updated almost daily. Others, such as Goodreads, Shelfari, RedRoom, and Crimespace, are fine to check up on once a week. The resy are mostly sites I can visit once a month. Squidoo and Lijit can be set up to practically run themselves.

Of course, the more time you spend on each of these, the more effective it becomes as a billboard.

At this point, I'm fine with having a toehold in each of these communities. People join them looking for books, or friends, or just something to entertain or inform, and I've made it easy for them to find something that fits the bill: Me.

That's the first step. But to truly take advantage of Internet relationships, the next step involves time. Time to seek out people on these sites. Time to announce yourself on them. Time to respond to those who have contacted you.

But is it worthwhile?

As the world continues its race into a digital future, it is becoming more and more common to have relationships with people you never actually meet in real life. And unlike real life, these relationships often have less baggage and more leeway. You aren't required to do as much, give as much, or be as responsible with online friends as with real life friends.

And yet, your online friends can vastly outnumber your real life friends, and they can also be a gigantic feather in your self-promotion cap. They can help spread the word. They can buy your books.

I've mentioned many times that people are searching for two things on the Internet: Information and Entertainment. While a visual medium, the net is still all about words. You enter words into Google. You read words in response.

Who better to blaze a trail in this frontier than people skilled to use words?

Your words, in the form of communication and correspondence, are a very effective way to garner supporters online. Your words, when advising and entertaining, will help to keep these relationships going, and are also helping to build relationships with people who you don't even know exist.

The majority of folks who visit my blog and website and billboards are lurkers. They stop by. They read. And if they like what the read, they often buy my books. All without ever letting me know.

It's great to have cheerleaders, linking to you, mentioning you, corresponding with you. But it's also great to have a silent audience who doesn't ask for more than the time you've already given creating a blog or homepage or billboard.

So I don't mind maintaining these billboards. And as more social networking sites spring up and gain popularity, I'll go there as well. I want to be where the people are. I have information and entertainment to give them, but it is only useful to them if they know it exists.


Jessica Burkhart (Jess Ashley) said...

I'm with you on getting one's name out there in as many spots as possible. :)

Spy Scribbler said...

Here's another one for you: Google Books. It'd actually be great for your ebook you based on your blog. They accept books without ISBNs, and I highly suspect they skew search results to favor Google Books.

And Google Knol. Which is the same thing as Squidoo, only it's Google's. And again, I suspect they favor Knol in search results.

Great post!

Simon Haynes said...

Like you, I participate in a great number of social networking sites. What I did was to purchase a domain and put up a simple page where I link to my profiles on them all. (In my case it's simonhaynes (dot) info, which I don't use for anything else.)

Stacia Kelly said...

You know..I love you. Love the writing. Love the blog.

And now I have too much to do to check out all these spaces too.

Damn it.



Amy Plum said...

Just to let you know, I quoted you on my blog today...hope you approve!

Roman J. Martel said...

I agree with you Joe. The internet provides us writers with a great deal of options. The trick is to figure out how to make it work for us with the greatest efficiency.

This is the problem with billboards. The work it takes to keep them current can take up a lot of time. I find that scheduling my billboard time helps a lot. And I like Simon's idea about tying the billboards to one page... Hmmm.

T. M. Hunter said...

I have a few hubs, which I contain on my website's links page so I can easily visit them and keep them updated. I also have links from all those hubs back to my site.

The only trouble is that sometimes updating, communicating with visitors, and seeking out new friends can all take a vast amount of time. When working a job in addition to writing, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done.

As soon as I can figure out the time-space de-stabilizer and can work 36 hours into a 24-hour day...

(Right after perfecting the disintegrator cannon...)

But like you said, writers have to be careful to provide information and education, and draw visitors in that way. I can't say how many people I've seen who spam their "friends" with bulletins every day...but I know that I just ignore the posts. It doesn't take a huge stretch to figure most folks out there will react the same way.

Brock Eastman said...

Feel free to check out my first two chapters and give me a critique.

Anonymous said...

That's good advice as always, Joe. I've found Crimespace and Shelfari particualrly useful, and also pretty low maintenance.

Lisa Abeyta said...

So.... what are you doing in your free time? (bwahahahaha!)

Kaycee James said...

I found your blog a while ago through Barry Eisler's site. He recommended your writing tips and so I popped on to check them out. I downloaded your guide and am still working my way through it. :-) I also read your blog pretty regularly.

Today, while browsing through the bookstore, I found some of your novels. I ended up buying "Bloody Mary" (they didn't have a copy of Whiskey Sour in stock) and so far, I'm enjoying it. You might say I'm one of those silent fans of yours. :-)