Note: This is a guest post from Jessica Burde (check out the bio at the end of the post), a freelance writer and fan of sci-fi/fantasy. She’s written a very interesting post, namely because it’s a strategy I’ve absolutely never thought of or even heard of before. I first heard of SecondLife many years ago, but dismissed it as a “Sims”-like game–not a tool for promotions.
So if you’re a writer or creator who feels like you’ve overturned every rock and looked in every nook and cranny for new and improved marketing and promotional tactics–check this out!
I have to admit that I never really took Second Life seriously until a few days ago. I mean, it seemed like a fun idea, and I knew there were people have a blast there. But it seemed just a social thing.
Yeah, yeah, I’m a slow learner. There is no such thing as just a social thing when you are a writer looking to build a platform. I also didn’t start taking my writing seriously until a year ago. Sometimes it takes a clue-by-four.
|My avatar, Falcon|
So, I jumped on Second Life the other day, mostly just because I was bored and wanted to meet some new people. I got my account, picked up some n00b tips, and then started wandering around randomly. Meeting people was not happening. (Mainly, I’ve since
learned, because I was wandering in the wrong areas, but that is another story.) So rather than keep wandering, I pulled up the search feature and typed ‘writing’. Search came back with a couple hundred hits. I was off!
At this point, I am still very much the n00b, but I’ve had a chance to get the lay of the land, and the more I find, the more I realize that Second Life may be one of the best platform builders out there. While it will be a while before I’ve fully explored it’s potential, I’ve figured out what I think is a pretty good starting point.
You can get a free Second Life account, or pay a monthly fee for a premium account. The main bonus of the premium account is you get a house, but you can do pretty much anything you want with a free account. When you set up an account, don’t the mistake I did – Use your byline. That makes it easy for people to search for and find you. It doesn’t do much good if folks you meet on Second Life can’t find your webpage, after all.
Once you have your account set up, do the usually newbie stuff on a social network: Set up your profile and learn Your way around.
- Spend time in the Orientation Center learning your way around.
- Visit one of the New Citizen Centers for lots of in depth tutorials.
- When you fill out your profile, and don’t forget to put a link to your blog or website.
- Take the time to customize your avatar – you start with a default, but the body and face are extremely customizable.
- Right click on your avatar and click ‘Edit my appearance.’
- Then tweak the avatar until it looks the way you want it.
- You can have you avatar be you, a character from one of your stories, or whatever else you like.
- Check your inventory. You start with several outfits that you can mix and match.
- Hit one of the free malls to pick up some personal outfits. It takes a while to find good stuff in the free malls, but its there.
- Make new clothes:
- Right click a piece of clothing in your inventory
- Click on ‘make new.’
- Pick color, style and texture.
- Combine the clothes you start with, find and make to create some outfits you like.
Now you are ready to start exploring.
You can use Search to find groups about writing and groups where you can find a potential audience. Join the groups you like and get involved. Virtual Writer’s World and Book Island are two active writers groups that I recommend. Getting involved with them will give you a chance to network with other writers, which never hurts. I’ll guarantee you can find a group (or a dozen) related to your target market. Do you write mysteries? Check out Mystery Manor, the SL home of Holmes fans. Steampunk Explorer has over 300 members for genre writers to hang out with. There are groups of medical professionals, bloggers, romance fans…
Jump in, join up. Get involved. Most active groups run events in SL. These events are great places to meet people. Even when there isn’t an event, some groups talk in a private chat channel. Take part in discussions, make friends. Just like you do with any other social media. You can also propose and sponsor events. Tell the group owner that you want to run something and they’ll make it gets added to the groups schedule. Events range from discussions to parties to scavenger hunts. One author I’ve met hosts a weekly discussion on creating world peace. At some point in the discussion he relates it to something from his new book, and mentions where people click to download it.
Speaking of which, yes you can give or sell stuff in SL. There are two ways to do this. You can make an SL object that links people to a webpage with your product, or you can put your writing on ‘notecards’ and distribute them in SL. A lot of authors are using notecards, and automatic notecard dispensers to provide excepts and samples of their work.
Many authors, some major publishers, and even a few agents have SL storefronts on Book Island. You can set up a storefront to advertise your work, give out freebies and even include a contact point so people who are interested in your work can send you an IM. You can submit work to agents and publishers. Put your store’s SL location in your profile, and any friends you make can ‘teleport’ to your story to check out your latest.
I won’t go so far as to say ‘the possibilities are endless’ – for one thing, I can’t find any sign of a writer’s conference anywhere on SL (though once I really know my way around, I might see about starting one.) Massive, I think is the best word for the possibilities I am finding.
Like anything, there will be a learning curve. It’ll be at least a few months before I really know my way around SL, and longer before I can really start leveraging my platform. That’s okay. In the mean time, I am having fun, working with other writers, meeting people, and getting some crazy ideas for new stories.
Like any platform, SL won’t be for everyone, but think it is definitely worth exploring.
Jessica Burde is a freelance writer and sci-fi fantasy fan. She is currently working on several fiction projects including her first novel, a steampunk genre fiction set in Mongolia. Can friend her on SL as Akirahaya or follow her on twitter @jessicaburde