When I first opened an account on Goodreads back in 2011, I started as a reader. I wanted to catalogue all the books that I had read and plan on reading. I had an account on Shelfari but I wanted more activity and connections with other readers (It seems everyone abandoned Shelfari for Goodreads). When I started importing my books into Goodreads, I liked the format of the library catalogue—it looked more sharper and cleaner compared to the boring bookshelf at Shelfari. I admit I only started cataloguing my books and never started interacting on the site until two years later when I decided to create an author page.
After creating an author page, I joined groups such as Poetry and Goodreads Author Feedback in hopes of connecting with like-minded writers. I am an observer first before I dive into something. This is what I do when I first attend an open mic. I usually feel the vibe of the place and the people the first time I attend and then the second time I sign up to read (I use this same technique when joining a writing community). So, I was a voyeur for some time. I watched how the writers interacted with one another. It seemed very respectable and peaceful (even the disagreements were understandable and civil). I felt comfortable and decided to take the plunge. I was the “new kid on the block” and seemed to be welcomed into the community.
Within months, I joined more groups and was both observer and participant. In my observation, I noticed some participants who were readers and only readers, who did not like it when authors did not read the policy in particular groups. They hated when authors “spammed” a discussion thread. I could relate to their point. As a reader, I like to scan books of interest on my time and not forced to look at someone’s book because they decided to post in the discussion and not read the policy.
Rule #1: Read the policy and rules of the group
I have seen administrators pipe in to tell the author that the rules state “no spamming” and if anyone does. their post will be deleted and they will be “banned” from the group.
Also, I have noticed authors who not only didn’t read the policy but the title thread nor the content of the thread and be tagged teamed by the same only readers individuals.
Rule #2: Read the Title in the subject thread and also the content of the thread
As an author, we tend to be over zealous with finding readers for our books. In our search, we may see discussion threads that may seem to welcome a post about our book but in reality it is more of a question. The author, who plunges in without reading about the thread and think it’s about self-promotions, may find himself/herself trapped by these only readers (who some call trolls and bullies because they basically taunts and stalks the authors). These "only readers" are correct in telling that the author has made an error in posting their content without reading the thread but they can be very nasty in their manner. They will even retaliate by bad-mouthing your book and giving it a low rating (without ever reading it).
With Rule #1, Do not complain about low-ratings on your book These groups do not like an author who complains about getting low ratings, or is constantly complaining about not receiving reviews after they host a giveaway. They will say that the reviews are for readers and not authors. They are right because Goodreads is a reader’s site, and they have given the author some space to showcase their work with the Author Program.
The information that I am giving you have been told and told again, but I still see authors making the same mistakes. As authors, we need to step back and remember that we are also readers. We need to remember the same tranquil state when we are at the library or bookstore searching for the next page turner. I know I do not like it when I am shopping in a retail store and an overanxious salesperson tries to sell me something that I don’t need, want, or is not interested in. I usually walk out of the store. We should also not barge in, as authors, to a situation that we were not invited to self-promote our latest book.
I joined Linkedin in 2013 because I felt the discussions on Goodreads were being overwrought with authors and only readers bickering and I had read a thread that a fellow poet was on in Goodreads say that he had had a good discussion on Linkedin. So, I decided to open up an account and see what it was about. I set up my account with all my vital information (as a writer) and proceeded to sign up to some groups. Of course, I signed up to some poetry groups but also some groups that focused on writers in general like Aspiring Writers, Aspiring Writers Blogs, Authors & Writers of Fiction and Non-Fiction, and Books and Writers. I did my usual observance before the plunge and checked out what was being said. I noticed that a lot of the discussions on Linkedin lasted for days and even weeks without a break. The discussions were mostly civil and when there were disagreements it was civil as well. I noticed that there was not a real presence of "only readers" or “spamming” on threads.
My advice for being a better writer and author on Goodreads and Linkedin, is to pick a few groups that is of interest to you, observe, be a reader first, a writer/author second, and participate.
Here are some vocabulary words that you should know (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Flaming: a hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users, often involving the use of profanity.
Sockpuppet: an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term, a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock, originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an Internet community who spoke to, or about, themselves while pretending to be another person. The term now includes other misleading uses of online identities, such as those created to praise, defend or support a person or organization, or to circumvent a suspension or ban from a website. A significant difference between the use of a pseudonym and the creation of a sockpuppet is that the sockpuppet poses as an independent third-party unaffiliated with the puppeteer. Many online communities attempt to block sockpuppets.
Logrolling: In an academic context, the Nuttall Encyclopedia describes logrolling as "mutual praise by authors of each other's work".
(This article was first published in the January 2015 For Writers (ALL ABOUT WRITING) Newsletter)