Not My (Or Any Author’s) Space

Too many authors seem to hold this same opinion I saw on Twitter the other day:

Years ago, I made the decision to never again hide.

Therefore, despite my loyal trolls, I’m back on Goodreads and created a new profile to add friends from Twitter.

I am baffled as to why any author would be on Goodreads.

First, although owned by Amazon, Goodreads has undergone no visible major improvements since the online giant bought it in 2013 – and eight years is centuries in social media time.

Second, as this other author wrote on his web site in December 2020:

[From “The Writing King,” December 2020.]

Its biggest problem in his opinion:

I feel it’s because of the lack of intelligent moderation. Contrast this with Quora with it’s “Be Nice Be Respectful” policy. On that site, if you show too much negativity towards someone or you engage in harassment, you get warned and then you get banned. This ensures the people talk civilly to one another and show some form of respect.

I think this here may be a tiny example of what he is talking about:

[Screenshot of a Goodreads “review” of a book, and “discussion” of that “review.”]

That took me all of maybe a click or two to find. It is a screenshot of an August 21, 2019 reader “review” of a book by the author whose tweet I cite at the start of my post here. On August 22, as you see there was a response from another author to her initial comment. (Full disclosure: When I found that exchange, I did not realize that “Matthew” now follows me on Twitter.) The initial commenter replied almost instantly, and a longer and broader “discussion” ensues and that responder vanishes after a barrage of name-calling and the “F” word being thrown around as others pile on, with one declaring in support of the reviewer that it is her “review space” to write whatever she wants and he as an author should not “troll” her review and should get lost.

This is vital for every author to remember. The moment you choose to be an author (or any creative, for that matter), anyone can write anything nasty about your work for any reason they wish and post that opinion anywhere. As long as I am not being libelled (which is very unlikely in an internet comment), I must accept anyone may post the most negative and even most vitriolic diatribes in dismissing what I author (and I know some have).

In fact, that reviewer is only repeating what Goodreads says about itself:

[Screenshot of Goodreads on Twitter, April 2, 2021.]

That is shared with some 3.7 million Twitter followers. Thus Goodreads is not hiding what it is about. It is NOT for authors; it is making it clear as day it is for readers… and as we see those readers are free to write on the site pretty much it seems whatever they as readers want to write.

Despite already knowing that myself, and that I had not been very active after creating an account in 2014, in 2017 I still considered participating more with the release of Conventions: The Garden At Paris because it seemed “every” other author was on Goodreads. However, I abandoned that plan when as I recall a typo I had missed on the dashboard when inputting my name for that book prevented me from linking it to my earlier novels; suddenly, it was being treated as a work by an entirely new author. Unable to undo that small “backroom” tech glich/mistake – that no one had publicly seen, of course – I sat there wondering why I was wasting my time with this given Goodreads was NOT intended for me as an author.

[My inactive Goodreads author page. Screen capture, April 2021.]

As you see, I deleted my author photo and put up that “dead” page message, and that has been how matters have stood on “my author page” there for FOUR years.

For this post, I logged in for the first time since then and I was not at all surprised by what I saw. WordPress – my blog host here – changes this and that regularly in its behind the scenes user interface (if you use WP too, you know what I mean) in seeking supposedly to “improve” it, and some changes have done so. (While others do cross over into the realm of annoying too: I HATE, for example, this clumsy new “block” editor for posting that WordPress insists is GREAT and is determined to shove down our throats.) In comparison, at Goodreads, insofar as I could see yesterday… eh, guess what, NOTHING had changed an iota techwise or in the user interface – for better or even worse – on my author dashboard for FOUR years.

The only difference I noticed? Someone, or some AI there, at some time during those FOUR years finally got around to linking Conventions to “my author page.” I thought: Hurrah! Next, though, when I searched I found its follow up Tomorrow The Grace (October 2019 publication) is on the site too, but that book has NOT been linked to “my author page.” I tried to add it manually… and 2017 came rushing back to my mind as I kept getting all sorts of warnings not to do this, not to do that, that I could not do this, and then I ended up in some tech dead end… and there I gave up. So on the site my most recent novel – obviously culled from Amazon proper – remains as it apparently has been, still floating unattached to “my author page” a year and a half after its publication.

[Photo by me, March 20, 2021.]

Obviously this Goodreads “model” works or Amazon would change it. So Goodreads will almost certainly continue to resemble an old-fashioned high school students’ bathroom (why should the school pay to upgrade its “2013” tech when it does the job?) with its walls on which the kids scribble any s-it they feel like. There is no reason to believe it will ever be otherwise.

I see no benefit in participating at any site that is NOT intended for me. The only reason I leave my Goodreads “author page” up at all is because as you also see I link on it to my blog here. If you have ever blocked anyone on the likes of Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook for trolling and/or sealioning or other harassment, the LAST place you should be participating as an author is Goodreads.

Frankly, the best thing an author can do when it comes to Goodreads is indeed stay the hell away from it.

I was not intending to post today. I just got caught up in all that and thought I might as well post it. Have a Happy Easter tomorrow (if you observe). 🙂

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