9 February 2008

oz_mystery_readers 5 years old today

Back on 9 Feb 2003, when had I tried and tasted a number of online book discussion groups, and not found any that really did what I wanted, which was to discuss murder mystery books available in Australia, I decided to launch out and create one. I had already floated the idea with friends in a face-to-face group here in Adelaide, and so oz_mystery_readers was born.

I advertised the group among friends and email lists and it gradually grew. As happens with such groups, membership changes over time with people subscribing and unsubscribing. Some people get overwhelmed by email as a group grows, go "nomail" and promptly forget the group exists, others get the digest of daily mails, while still others just lurk.
oz_mystery_readers has really grown very slowly, but I'd guess that over time about twice as many have subscribed as are members now.
It helps also to develop a strong core of active members, which I believe we have now, and also for others to take on tasks in the group, whether it be as co-moderators or as discussion leaders.

I thought a lot about the good and bad features of other groups that I'd joined and left, and of those I'd stayed with. I must admit that a much larger US group 4MA that I discovered after I'd created oz_mystery_readers has been a constant source of inspiration and a good model of what a group can be like.

Some statistics:
Currently there are 117 members (but among them are 15 "bouncing" email addresses)
Between us, over 5 years, we have generated 9765 messages
June 2007 was our most "active" month with 418 messages - that is just over 10 a day.
Since beginning regular scheduled book discussions in December 2004 we have discussed 46 books.

We rate all discussion books and our top 10 books, in order, have been
On 5.0 (maximum points)
RAVEN BLACK by Ann Cleeves,
and DIAMOND DOVE by Adrian Hyland
ABOVE SUSPICION by Lynda La Plante (4.75)
Then on 4.7
SLEEPYHEAD by Mark Billingham
FLESH AND BLOOD by John Harvey
RED LEAVES by Thomas H. Harris
THE BROKEN SHORE by Peter Temple
On 4.6
NO TRACE by Barry Maitland

Our discussion books are suggested and voted on by members.
We have selection criteria for the books:
January: General suggestion
February: Non-British, Non-Australian writer
March: 1-10 General suggestion
24-30 Quiz an Author: we ask an author to join us
April: Awards month
1-10 Ned Kelly winner for best crime novel for previous year
21-30 a prize winner - the book must have won a prize
for crime/mystery fiction in the last 5 years.
May: General suggestion
June: British crime - British author or British setting or both
July: General suggestion
August: Classics month - the book should be written by a writer considered a "classic" - e.g. Agatha Christie, Simenon, Arthur Upfield, Dorothy L. Sayers
September: 1-10 General suggestion
24-30 Quiz an Author: we ask an author to join us
October: Australian writer in an Australian setting
November: General suggestion
December: Christmas, set in and around Christmas

As well as the scheduled discussions, we have a number of regular weekly activities such as Friday Recommendation, Telling Title, Peeves, Middle of the Month, Author Chat, and Who Have you Met?
At the end of each month we encourage members to tell others what they've read in the last month, with title, author, short description and rating if they've kept that much detail.
These lists are great sources of suggestions for books to look out for or avoid.

We have an activity called Quiz an Author which takes place approximately every 3 months. Our guest for a week is an Australian author who is asked to answer a mixture of pre-set and spontaneous questions.
So far our guests have been
Brian Kavanagh - author of CAPABLE OF MURDER, THE EMBROIDERED CORPSE, and recently released BLOODY HAM
P. D. Martin - author of BODY COUNT, THE MURDERERS CLUB, and recently released FAN MAIL
Adrian Hyland - author of DIAMOND DOVE (aka MOONLIGHT DOWNS), winner of the Ned Kelly best First Novel award in 2007
Our guest on 17 February will be multiple award winner Gabrielle Lord. Author of 15 books published since 1980. Books to think about: DEATH DELIGHTS, DIRTY WEEKEND and SHATTERED.

Our reading/discussion schedule for the coming months
1-10, EXIT MUSIC by Ian Rankin
April: Awards Month
1-10, 2007 Ned Kelly Award Winner: Best Novel
21-30, 2007 Duncan Lawrie International Dagger Award

Despite the fact that this group is an Australian one, and we do promote Australian murder mystery and crime fiction, we don't read/discuss exclusively that as you can see, and our members come from all over the world.
So if you are looking for a group to join, why not oz_mystery_readers?

1 comment:

Peter Rozovsky said...

Happy birthday!
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"


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