Sunday, September 29, 2013

Alternatives to Goodreads...and why you might want them

I had just arranged an interview with two anonymous librarians about why Goodreads is useful and how they use it when I saw this piece by Dear Author, one of my favorite blogs, about where people can go once they leave Goodreads. And why are they leaving? Because Goodreads deleted reviews and shelves without warning after months (years?) of complaints by authors that they were being bullied and harassed. This piece has a good analysis of what happened and what Goodreads could still do.

As an indie author who hadn't yet fully jumped in, I'm not sure how much this affects me. I'll have my secret sources verify this for me this week, but it seems that while Goodreads is a great place for readers to discover books and then their authors, most readers aren't sitting at the screen thinking, "Let me search Goodreads right now as a place to find the next big author in New Adult/Romance/Chick Lit/whatever." My read- and again I'm not the expert- is that your book already needs a little traction from readers- or just one reader- before it can start genuinely taking off there. But maybe I'm wrong- we'll find out.

Nothing inspires an argument more
As a long-time reviewer on Amazon, I have mixed feelings. In the decade-plus that I've been reviewing, I have had fewer than five reviews pulled, and really I only remember one. That one still bothers me- I called someone who wrote a memoir racist because, um, he went on a racist rant without any irony- but I let it go. I've had some reviews generate A LOT of discussion (criticize Ben and Jerry's and watch out!) but I've never felt attacked. However, if I'd had a lot pulled- or if people had been particularly nasty to me- I know I'd feel differently. On the other hand, I try not to say anything that talks about the author out of the context of what that person wrote. (And I also don't create lists that talk about how much I hate someone or want to see them hurt in any way.)

Then again, just as I don't like people "joking" about wanting to see an author raped in prison, I also don't like the idea that anyone is doxxing a reviewer.

I hope we can all agree on something that works, because while in one sense it's just books, in another sense, books are everything.