As we clear out the old and make way for the new year, Nora shares the plan for all her spaces going forward: a focus on the positive. ~Laura
The internet is a marvelous tool, an endless source of information, entertainment and communication. A virtual tool — and as a solitary type, my favorite kind.
We can, at the stroke of a few keys, find answers, find friends, communicate with others who share our interests. Life’s busy, so creating the blog, updating the Facebook pages is a way of connecting with readers, making a place for readers to connect with each other in a quick and easy manner.
The upside’s pretty broad. That connection, a place to ask a question — and Laura’s quick with answers. When I can, I answer myself. It can be fun for everyone. Information’s generated so readers know what’s coming up as far as books or events. Entertaining discussions evolve from Laura’s regular question posts on Facebook.
We want these spaces to be fun for everyone, to be a cheerful link between readers who enjoy my books, between those readers and me. But . . . there’s always a downside.
I do wonder at anyone who seeks out a writer’s Facebook page to post a negative comment on her work. There are scads of reader review sites for just this purpose if a book didn’t satisfy. Moreover, some will insert this negativity in what strikes me as a completely inappropriate place. We might be talking about the holidays or friendships or hobbies, and someone will post something like: I thought (insert title of book) was boring. Or I didn’t like (insert title of book) and wish I hadn’t wasted my time and money.
Then there’s the very odd: I haven’t read your books in years because they suck. (Then what are you doing here?)
Those are fairly mild examples as many comments dip way down into the stunningly personal.
If the comment starts a disagreement, the original poster inevitably falls back on the easy out: I was just expressing my opinion.
Who asked for it? I didn’t. My page, after all, and nowhere is there a post asking: So, Gentle Readers, what did you think of (insert title of book)? What does this person get out of telling me and the internet they didn’t like a particular book? Do they believe their opinion so important it MUST be expressed on my Facebook pages or blog? I think some people just have to spread negativity. They choose to do so, and that’s too bad for them as negativity can and will breed negativity.
After decades in the business, I have pretty thick skin. I know full well not every book I write will make the grade for every reader. What one reader loves about a certain book, another will avidly dislike. That’s what makes reading so personal, and it’s why no matter how much I value and appreciate readers, I’m not going to take your opinion into account when I write. But those who create the stories have feelings, just like everyone else. And being told you wrote a lousy book stings. Even if it is one person’s opinion. It also tends to make readers who enjoyed that particular book defensive. And the circular firing squad begins.
There are reader review and discussion sites all over the internet. A writer can go there, choose to read the good, the bad, the praise, the criticism. That’s a choice, just as a reader makes a choice when coming to a writer’s Facebook page to complain–to express negativity. It makes more sense to me for writers to leave reader review sites to the reader. And for readers to use those spaces to express opinions on why a book didn’t work for them.
The internet is anonymous for posters. It’s easy to say something rude or hurtful or negative behind that shield. To say something that person would never say face-to-face. That’s the big downside.
As I’m purging for the new year, I’m going to do what I can to purge the negativity that’s cropped up in my spaces — including the virtual ones. I’m going to ask those who enjoy those spaces, who visit there, who come to connect, to take a few seconds to think before posting a comment. Ask: Would I walk up to this person, in real life, and say this? If the answer’s no, maybe you should rethink before hitting Send.
These virtual spaces don’t have to be full of rainbows and fuzzy little bunnies. But neither should they be places where someone can accuse me of trucking with Satan. (Yes, that happened.)
If you choose to post negative comments, you will. It won’t change a thing, but I guess you’ll have your say. If, however, that negativity crosses the line into the personal — as it too often does — we’ll delete and ban. I want my readers to have a good, positive space to visit. And, frankly, I want the same for myself.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, hopeful New Year full of love and fun and wonderful books.