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Thursday, January 04, 2007


Vital statistics

I'm going to be put onto a MySpace page by my publishers soon. They reckon it'll help promote me, and as I don't know anything much about MySpace I'm in no position to disagree; they're nice people and I'll take their word for it. Anyone who can tell me any helpful tips about MySpace gets a big advance thank-you.

Curious thing, though: I've just had to fill in a list of personal statistics - interests, favourite music, films, books... It's surprisingly hard.

Some people, I think, consider their tastes and their identity to be closely linked, and so will be able to trot out favourites easily, because they've decided in advance which books, films and songs express something about them. I don't really feel that way. My favourite writers are probably relevant, as this is a writer's website and the people I read most probably influence me most, but, while the films, music and so on that I like probably do give you a broad-stroke picture of the kind of sensibilities I have, they're not official choices. They're just stuff I happen to enjoy.

But put them up on an official page, and they start looking like official declarations. I vote for Senator Astaire to represent our aesthetic concerns! I am allied to the Aardman Party on all national issues! I subscribe to everything the Muppets say!

Part of this is because communities do sometimes build up around films or television series or books. I liked the early Buffy seasons, for example, and there's, well, a lot of stuff on the Net about that. But I never logged on to a fan site, or joined in a discussion board, or made friends based on a shared liking for the series. I just watched the show. Does saying I like a TV show imply more than it actually means? Are people going to assume I'm an expert and bewilder me with detailed references? Are people going to assume that, because they don't like the people they know who watch it, they don't like me either? It gets worrying.

And then there's why you like something. I like the movie The Passion of Ayn Rand, for example. Does that mean I'm a Randian Objectivist? Actually no, I could never get on with her books and think her philosophy is full of holes. I thought it was an interesting character study and found various things in the film easy to identify with, for reasons that have to do with obscure personal experiences that only I'd be interested in. I liked it as a movie. But it's about Ayn Rand, so mentioning it sounds like I'm declaring some kind of position on said lady. I'm not sure what position.

And don't even get me started on the Interests section. I'm interested in, like, er, interesting things! Aaagh! I don't know! In the end I had to resort to a resume of my recreational habits, which are pretty darn dull. I like to look at trees and pet neighbours' cats. Sometimes I read stuff. My life is flashing before my eyes. (I enjoyed it at the time, but it's lucky I'm too obscure to merit a biography, let me tell you.)

Looking at other people's, though, I figure I got off lightly. I didn't have to do the chart that asks for your sexual orientation, body type and ethnicity. (Um, heterosexual, vaguely woman-shaped and easily-sunburned white, since I brought it up, but I'm only telling you that because you're my friends.)

Do any of you have MySpace pages? What do you put on them?

I have a MySpace page.

(A friend of mine had a brain-fart and sent out some five or six invites in succession to her entire address book; a few of us signed up just so we could tease her about it.)

Mostly I mirror stuff from my lj/blogspot (too much time on my paws, you say?). I keep the more personal stuff away from it because you can't friends-lock anything. It's all out there for anyone who chooses to subscribe to your blog. At the moment I'm mostly promoting a story I sold last year, and the magazine to which I sold it.

Truth be told, I don't think blogging is MySpace's major raison d'etre. That's the acquisition of "friends". Not real friends, but people who appear on your friends page and can read your bulletins. Using s/ware to find people who might become your friends is prohibited, but people do it anyway, based on shared interests. You send Friend Requests, and people either approve or deny them. If they approve, you find yourself on their Friends Page, and they're on yours.

I'm on the UK version; the only practical difference this makes is in the adverts that I don't see anyway because I use AdBlock.

MySpace is totally broken by the way--I managed to get on it once today. Good luck!
I'm afraid I'm a bit sceptical about the value of MySpace as a promotional tool for artists, writers, musicians and the like.

I have the impression (possibly mistaken) that all the MySpace hype (Arctic Monkeys et al) started in the mainstream media after that nice Mr Murdoch bought it out (thereby making himself the ultimate destination for all the ad revenue generated by the numerous clicks and page-views).

Prior to that, it was much more common to hear about the internet as a place where nasty pirates stole from artists, condemning them to lives of penury.

The editorial line changed quite suddenly - to one where independent-spirited artists were using sites like MySpace to by-pass the old media gatekeepers and find their own path to fame and riches!


That said, I could be laughably, hopelessly wrong - and it costs you nothing to give it a whirl.

(Full disclosure: I have a MySpace page, although there's almost nothing there.)
Having a MySpace page probably doesn't do you much good, but not having one probably doesn't do you much good, either. It doesn't cost much to get out there, except in terms of time, and it's easy enough to copy and paste from one blog to another....
On sqrl's blog:

'A comment from a reader that she will always treasure:
"You are a very disturbed person, and since I've read [The Grey], so am I." '

That has class. I am grinning as I type.

Re the Murdoch thing: I don't really have any politics about the Internet; I'm just hoping it'll help me sell lots of books. From everything my publicist has said, I have the impression that she hasn't thought much about the politics either, beyond the 'trying a new way of selling lots of books' stance. Is that a political stance? Randian capitalism, maybe?

$ in the dust and ashes...

(Okay, I admit it, I haven't read Atlas Shrugged. Someone told me that's how it ends. I am a no-good second-handing cheat.)
'...the 'trying a new way of selling lots of books' stance. Is that a political stance?'

It's straightforward pragmatism, and I'm not knocking it. In your place I would do exactly the same.

I suppose I'm just saying that I don't see piles of convincing evidence of MySpace's efficacy as a promotional tool. At least not yet. Plenty of hype (especially since the Murdoch acquisition) but not a lot else.

Of course, yours could be the case that proves me completely wrong! I hope it is.

(Incidentally, nobody has read Atlas Shrugged. Ever. Anyone who claims they have is lying.)
I did read Atlas Shrugged though...honest...though I did get bleary eyed at Galt's 90 page monologue...

Also, David Edelman posted a while back on efforts he made to promote his book, Infoquake. Putting up a Myspace profile is one thing he says was well worth doing...got something like 1700 friends.

Putting up a Myspace profile is one thing he says was well worth doing...got something like 1700 friends.

Well, having more people know your book exists certainly can't be a bad thing.

However, the really interesting (and really difficult to obtain) statistic would be what percentage of his MySpace friends actually bought the book.

That's a very interesting page though - thanks for posting the link.
Yes, thanks Josh :-)

'However, the really interesting (and really difficult to obtain) statistic would be what percentage of his MySpace friends actually bought the book.'

True, but the same could be said about any advertising device. Plenty of people might like a particular ad jingle and never buy the car it promotes. There are lots of beer adverts I absolutely love, but I still hate beer. I have the dark suspicion that there are even a few of you little scamps reading this site who haven't bought my book. Ads only ever get a small percentage of purchases out of the target market, whatever the medium; that's just how the game goes.
[small sqrl voice]David is one of my MySpace friends and I bought his book (well, persuaded other half to buy it for me for Christmas). I hadn't even heard of it before he friended me.[end]
Ah, that's good news from my point of view. MySpace works!
On sqrls!
Is sqrldom contagious? Get out there and start biting people, girl! Go on, I'll give you an acorn.
You're thinking of my cousin, the Vampire Sqrl.
Tee hee.
"I have the dark suspicion that there are even a few of you little scamps reading this site who haven't bought my book." - kit whitfield

I bought your book :) I'm reading Benighted for my Fantasy English class!! & it's sitting right beside me on my desk at this very moment.

And as for MySpace... I have two... one's my personal page (http://www.myspace.com/love_the_speechless) and the other, my little animal activism site (http://www.myspace.com/chocoholics_annonymous)

...I know, the url's don't seem to match the cause, but my animal site was my original personal site... I set my personal private, but if you add me as a friend when you get yours, you can see it... the other is public.

Both of them are kind of under construction, seeing as I just made the 2nd one recently, but you can still see what I did for some of those columns & such.

I am an avid MySpacer... so if you have any Q... I may have the A.
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