Sunday 29 September 2013

The Goodreads Crackdown

I spent a bit of time today reading a number of websites on L'affaire Goodreads and how it's changed its TOS. It used to be very much that in any author-reviewer/reader clash, Goodreads sided 110% with the reader and reviewer. And I can see why--there's a huge perceived power imbalance. This has now changed.

My personal disenchantment with Goodreads is not so much because of the bullying--of which I've seen too much to discount it as "author hysteria" or "reviewer hysteria", respectively.

I've severely cut my exposure to social media in general, cutting 90% of my "followed" people on Twitter and enforcing time limits of how long per day I can stay on certain sites. Right now, it's set at 30 minutes per 12 hrs--if I go over, those websites are shut down and I can't access them or override the mechanism. (I might work out how, but can't be bothered trying to break my own rules, so it's a huge success.) Those websites are: Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Since then, my stress level is way down and my productivity is up (I also read a lot more than I have recently). Which, we can agree, is a good thing for a writer who's basically resigned himself to having to keep that day job going and having come too close to burnout recently. Essentially, I'm not watching the drama, nor do I follow links people post to a variety of posts on the "STGRB" website. I understand they have documented the "crackdown" extensively.

I came across the whole issue on Passive Guy's website, who quotes a post on Dear Author and adds his own comment. As usual, the comment and visitor comments are well worth a read.

Overall, I engage on Goodreads in a much more selective manner. I liberally friend people, and after a couple unpleasant interactions, I tend to block people, thus filtering them out of what I want to see per day. Considering the impact that "negativity" has on my motivation and desire to write, that's a method of self-preservation. Mostly, I'm trying to protect my books and my productivity. I call it my "Ostrich Method". It works for me. Sometimes, ignorance is not only the best but the only way forward.

That said, while I left pretty much all Goodreads groups, I did it because checking them was helping me procrastinate and turned into OCD-like patterns. It wasn't that I hate readers or reviewers and want nothing to do with them. It's just I don't have the time or energy. I remain open and accessible via email and my own group and comments on my status updates or blog posts.

I know authors who are really badly shaken up by interactions they've had on Goodreads, and I know several who warn other authors off the site, citing it's "toxic". Personally, 99% of my interactions have been pleasant. (So pleasant that my wordcount THERE went up, but my wordcount in actual fiction terms went down). Finding a balance is obviously the best way forward, but I'll fight that fight with myself at a point when I'm not getting strangled by two novel deadlines. (One at 20k, one unwritten. Both to be done WAY TOO SOON.)

In any case, I've met so many great people on Goodreads and built some amazing friendships and relationships. I hope the place settles down and everybody feels safe, and maybe we can even talk about some books (though I'm off reviewing books in the genre, but it would be nice to talk about the others I read) and recommend some, too.

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