Friday, October 2, 2009

Social Network for Readers?

Social networking can chew up and swallow a lot of time. Blogging, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, BookReader (or something like that). What? Not heard of BookReader? I read somewhere that this was the place to be involved if you loved reading, but if you were an author, forget the other networks and commune with your target audience – people who love to read. I probably read that from strategic PR sent out by the BookReader company.

As a mid-list author that few people have heard about, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get my name out and expose by books to a new set of readers. Authors live on the "Island of Misfit Toys" – wanting nothing more than for readers to discover their books. So along with the other networks that I use to connect with friends, family, readers, and other authors, I signed up for BookReader.

At first it was better that chocolate. All these readers devouring books and asking for advice on what to read next. I joined groups that reflected the subjects of my books and posted a few messages to introduce myself and what I wrote. I 'friended' readers and authors. I commented on books I had read. I posted my writing tips and insights into my writing life. I signed up for the daily e-mail so I could keep tabs on what all these readers said about books, what they buzzed about, what types of books they loved, what they didn't like reading...

The e-mails arrived and sometimes they led me back to BookReader to comment or to check out a book that people posted reviews on, but then it happened: Television pushed its way into discussions. Like nicotine, TV buzzed the readers with easy topics of conversation. 'Have you read John Morgan Wilson's Rhapsody in Blood?' 'No, but did you see CSI last night?' And off the discussion drifted like an exhaled plume of cigarette smoke leached into other group discussions. 'What's your favorite Brad Pitt movie?' 'How do you fix your Thanksgiving turkey—bake or fry?' 'Has Glee strayed too far from its original story?'

In the past month, I don't recall a single e-mail update that had anything to do with reading or books. The one I received today let me know that the moderator had posted a poll question in the "Mystery Novels" group: 'Who is your favorite 70s band?'

I guess in a way that's a mystery since it a question... Okay, these types of polls and discussions are great for Facebook and MySpace. I do them there. It's fun to get to know people and remember things about old friends.

But, BookReader? It brings people together with a common passion – reading – but I guess it's only human nature to expand that to other subjects to discover how else your BookReader friends are like you.

Social networking as a promotional tool for authors? Nope, it's a place to let your mind relax after hours of revising a manuscript. Because really, even if I want you to discover and read my books, what I really want to know is: Can you believe Project Runway last night?

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