Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Back in the day - a tangent

Maybe it's just me, but I sure do miss the way it used to be.  Back when I first came to Goodreads.
            I had been on another social network site - a site that some friends back home had turned me on to - and I loved discussing books there.  Then things began to change.  The site wanted it to be just movies and television, despite what the majority of the people using the site wanted, and I was forced to go elsewhere.  As things were changing, a friend of mine on there told me about Goodreads.  I went over and started an account and was in Book Lover Heaven.  It was amazing.  It was so great to find people who loved books as much as I did (my real life friends are not as excited), who I had things in common with (and didn't have things in common with).  I made some great friends there (thank you Goodreads!).
            I usually don't share this, but the first time an author contacted me ... I can't explain how that made me feel.  I'm still that way.  I get goosebumps and super excited.  I even get nervous when I reply, so wanting them to think I'm much cooler than I really am (haha).  I'm like a kid at Disney - I kid you not.  To become friends with authors that I idolized, whose books I loved, was (and is) amazing.  These people are my heroes and they want to talk to me?  There are no words to describe the joy I feel.
            Now things have changed there.  Changed on BookLikes.  Changed on book blogs.  Changed period.
            The book lover world has been destroyed by - what? - 2% of our community.  There were some badly behaving authors - and, let's be honest, some badly behaving reviewers/bloggers - who ruined it for everyone.  And I'm not happy.
            When did conversations about books become such a taboo?
            Now there are these unwritten rules where authors are not supposed to contact reviewers or bloggers for any reason.  Why?  Who said?  I'd like to speak to the people who are making these rules because, I don't know about everyone else, but I like to write my own rules, decide who I can and cannot talk to, run my life AND my blog.  It really makes me sad how immature everyone has acted and how I can no longer have a conversation about a book with an author because they are afraid that they are breaking a rule and I will respond unkindly.  THEY are afraid of ME.  ME!?!?  (You should see my angry/mean face.  It's apparently hilarious.  Someone fearing me is just ... I'm speechless.)
            I knew it was bad, but I never realized just how bad until an author that I think is amazing (both as a writer and just in general) - that I consider a friend - said something about not knowing how to talk to me and about those unwritten rules that are now in effect.  To be completely honest, it broke my heart to hear that.  I went to my mom - who is my go-to, my sounding board - and cried (and I'm not a crier).  I met this guy as a reader, not as an author.  We were both reading the same book (one written by a mutual friend of ours) and I didn't even know he was an author until I got nosey and looked him up.  He will always be THAT guy, no matter how great an author I think he is.  
            And yet the bad behavior on both sides continues.  People are angry - and, in some instances, there is a right to be angry - but instead of just saying "You know what, I'm angry and this is why," people are acting out - and acting out in a way that just makes things worse.
            Here's an example: A friend of mine was labeled a BBA and it was unfortunate because the person that started the drama lied and, instead of admitting the lie, took their ball and left.  That friend hasn't even published the second book and yet it has already been put on Goodreads and given a 1 star review.

You have the right to stop reading a book you don't like.
You have the right to review said book even though you didn't finish it.
You do not have the right to be nasty.
A review is what you liked and didn't like about a book.
When you read 10 pages and your review is 30, that should tell you something.

You have the right to say I don't want to read this book.
Maybe it's just not your cup of tea - romance when you love horror.
Maybe you heard that the author beats his wife.
Or maybe he/she was really rude on Goodreads and you saw it.
Write your review.
Tell people - and the author - why you won't read it.
THAT is your right.
You do not have the right to give it a 1 star rating without reading it.
(And what's with this bookshelf thing?
Don't you think that's just a little TOO much time for something you're uninterested in?)

Personally, I think 1 and 2 star ratings should have a review.
I want to know why you chose that rating.
I want to know why you hated the book.
Those reviews are for readers.
How is your rating without a review helping readers?

Everyone talks about their "rights," but when you purposely try to injure someone, are purposely malicious, that's not a "right."  If you don't like the book, that's one thing, but to tear them down and degrade them and make it personal and everything else that people do in their reviews, that's ridiculous.  Haven't you ever heard "Treat people the way you yourself want to be treated"?

Note: I am not standing up for the authors here.  I'm standing up for everyone.  One bad author does not mean all authors are bad, just like one bad reviewer/blogger does not mean all reviewers/bloggers are bad.

A reviewer rated your book poorly.  
That is unfortunate and I can't even imagine how that feels.
98% of the time, this is a legitimate review.
They just did not like it, for whatever reason.
They are not bullying you by saying that they did not like it.
They are not out to hurt you or destroy your career or whatever.
They are not jealous that you are an author and they are not.
They disliked your book and they wrote a review.  Period.
You're mad.  I can understand that.
You're hurt.  I can understand that feeling too.
You cry.  You scream.  You rant.  You feel like quitting.
WE all get it.  We really do.  Everyone has felt this feeling before.
The sign of a great person (regardless of career) is how they react.
THIS is a learning experience - and should be looked at positively.
Most of us write reviews explaining why we didn't like it.
Those are the reviews you should worry about.
What did we like?  What didn't we like?
Write these down.  Seriously think about what the reviewer says.
Can I change this book and make it better?
Seriously, maybe the reviewer has something there.

I have been mistreated by an author.  I thought it was ridiculous the way he behaved ... and the fact that he sent some of his dogs to leave nasty comments on my blog and Google+.  What did I do?  I ignored him.  Even though he made me angry and I wanted to tell him where to shove his attitude, I ignored his threats, his nastiness ... and his friends.  I changed my settings on my blog and I reported his friends' comments to Google+, which hid them from view, and let someone else deal with their behavior.  Then I moved on with my life.

People who misbehave are jealous OR wanting attention OR trying to get a reaction.  They can be jealous and I have too much pride in myself and my blog to give them the attention they are wanting. I also have way too much of a life to react to them.  I pull out my journal, write what is happening and how I feel - very cathartic, actually - and sometimes I go to my author and blogger friends on Facebook to see what they have to say on the subject.  And then I'm done because the only person my anger and hatred hurts is me.

I went to BookLikes because some of my friends were no longer on Goodreads and I wanted to keep in contact with them.  I love it over there - it's fun, pretty and I like the way it's set up - but there is so much anger over there, and it feels (at times) like people would rather complain and wallow in their anger than discuss a book.  There are people on there who I no longer talk to - or even read their posts - because I'm tired of all the negativity.  (I wasted way too much time getting caught up in the petty stuff that has happened with BBA, STGRB or whatever it was called, etc - time I will never get back, time away from reading - and time where I was so angry I was shaking).

I've sat back and watched from the sidelines for far too long.  I've seen people ask if this can be fixed and how, but no one ever seems to have any idea how to do so.  

Let's go back to discussing books - and movies, those are cool too.
Let's go back to remembering why we are all here.
And remembering that authors are readers too.
That we're all human, that we all make mistakes.
(I, for one, can't throw stones from my glass house.)

Let's all remember to be nice.
Because somewhere along the line, a lot of people have forgotten how.
Being mean, nasty, rude, hateful - that is not funny.
Would you want to be treated that way?
Would you want someone to treat you the way you are treating someone else?

Let's stand up for what we believe and what we think.
Let's stop letting people dictate how we should think and feel.

Let's ignore the bad behavior (on both sides).
For those of y'all who are parents, you'll know where I'm coming from.
Little Johnny is picking his nose.
You tell him to quit over and over again.
You tell him how disgusting it is.
He ignores you.
He keeps picking that nose and laughing because he knows you don't like it.
(Little Johnny WANTS to be disgusting.)
So you ignore it.
He is no longer getting a reaction from you.
Picking his nose is not as much fun without that reaction.
Eventually Little Johnny stops.
And you no longer have to ick out about the boogers.

I want my book community back.  I want to be able to get on Goodreads and BookLikes without cringing.  I want to spend more than a few minutes scrolling through to see what others have done, or not looking at all and only posting my reviews.  I miss the relationships that I have there.  I miss the camaraderie and enjoyment of learning new books, discussing books and just plain being happy in both places.

I know, from experience, that good things can happen between a reviewer/blogger AND an author.  For example, the very first r2r I did on here was a book called Santa vs. the Aliens.  I read that book and really didn't like it - and I shared exactly why I didn't like it in my review.  He contacted me to discuss my thoughts and I must admit that it didn't start out very well.  (It takes a lot to make me mad and he was really working that last nerve of mine.)  I am a very persistent and was not willing to give up, but him and I had to have a long talk after he told me that the reason I didn't like it was because I was a "non-Christian."  (I am actually Catholic and my dislike of the book had nothing to do with the fact that religion was in it, but that religion came out of nowhere to save the world, basically, and that it was mostly the little boy, and not Santa, fighting the aliens.)  Once he was ready to listen, he went back and changed the end - which made it go from a 3 star book to a 4 1/2 star book in my opinion.  
            A very good friend of mine, who is also an author, wrote a novella here recently and, once I read it (before it was published, thankfully), I knew that the ending could be much better.  I felt horrible telling him so - not wanting to hurt his feelings, but knowing that I must in order for his book to be the best it could be (that editor part of me right there).  I mean, he was asking me for my honest opinion and what kind of friend would I be if I couldn't give that to him.  He went back and rewrote the ending and - wow!!  
            So for people to say that authors have no right to contact a reader, reviewer, blogger - whatever - is nuts.  Because, without those people to give their input, how do authors (especially self-published authors) know what the readers are not liking?  (Yes, it is not the reader's job to help the author edit their book or whatever, but if you are taking on the "reviewing" aspect of the whole thing, your opinion on why you didn't like it can help them make that book a book you and others will love.)  Instead of saying "No, don't do it, period," what we should be doing is telling them HOW to do it.  Authors need to be educated (or re-educated) on how to deal with us.

I am NEVER off-limits to anyone.  Author.  Reader.  Blogger.  EVERYONE has the option of contacting me.  Yes, even authors whose books I have despised (that is actually a very small number, thankfully) are more than welcome to contact me.  

"Great minds discuss ideas.
Average minds discuss events.
Small minds discuss people."
~Eleanor Roosevelt


taniekitty said...

This blog post is excellent! If this blog allowed star ratings I'd give it a 5. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read it. Very very well said.

Meghan H said...

Thank you, Tanya. That comment has made my day :)

Andrew Leon said...

I wish I could say that you'd get your wish and that people are capable of being civil. But, really, authors are scared of the hate groups that come and blast their books, often for no other cause than someone said they should do it.

By the way, I'm not scared to talk to you.

Meghan H said...

It's really is a sad situation that has just been blown up to epic proportions because of a few people. I hate that it's come down to that - authors being afraid. And I found out, by posting the link to this on BookLikes, just how much people are unwilling to let go of their hate and nastiness - because it was turned on me for sharing my opinion on the matter.

I'm glad you're not afraid to talk to me, Andrew. That really makes me happy to know. Thank you.