Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Doris Lessing has a MySpace page. Do you?

Doris Lessing has something you may not have. Yes, yes, Doris Lessing has a Nobel Prize in literature, but that's not what I was talking about. Doris Lessing has something far more impressive than a Nobel Prize (shoot -- any author can get one of those if, say, that author generates one of the world's most noteworthy bodies of literary work over the course of her lifetime).

Doris Lessing has a MySpace page.

The New York Times broke the news to me with this article.

Doris Lessing, at age 87, "gets it." Or, at least, she understands that she doesn't "get it," so she's partnered with somebody who does -- and she has 240 MySpace "friends" -- and counting -- to show for it.

Now here's a literary genius who probably wouldn't know an email account from an iPod. Yet she's taken the advice of a technically-savvy admirer, Jan Hanford, and developed a Web site as well as a MySpace page where fans can connect with her, express their admiration of her work, find out about future projects, and so forth. It's especially wonderful to think that Lessing found her way to Cyberpace and the world of online book marketing when you consider the fact that her publisher, HarperCollins, wasn't in on the deal. In fact, according to the NYT, Lessing's adventures in social network were "news to the HarperCollins online marketing manager, Jeffrey Yamaguchi."

Social networking is similar to blogging in that, while it seems to create online buzz "somehow," few of us over the age of 21 have a firm grasp of how, exactly, it works. But that's okay. As Doris Lessing has demonstrated, understanding the mechanism behind cyberspace community building isn't the point.

Partnering with someone who "gets it" is the point. Suspending disbelief, getting creative, and taking the plunge...that's the path to creating online buzz for your book. And, come to think of it, it's probably at least part of the blueprint Lessing would endorse for scoring a Nobel Prize in literature, too.