We aren’t all saints here on the internet. I’ve certainly not a place in the holiest of holy forum denominations for anything I may have written.
I could write for quite a long time about the goings-on of the Malicious Spectrum, but even I’m getting bored of hearing about it. I will give credit in this last piece to those who’ve provided the contrast; the safer havens for the self-published and independent authors.
In order for me to even devise this Spectrum, I visited several forums that didn’t exist because of territorial antics or push-advertising. These were well-moderated forums, controlled, and played a neutral role in communication apart from enforcing the laws they initially display.
What set them apart was simple: they gave no slack. Clear as crystal, the rules stated you could only use the forum for the purpose the moderators allow. There were few loopholes to exploit and no extra features to abuse. No voting on whether or not a post remained in view, and if removed, it’s removed completely.
Good forums clearly prioritize from the beginning so that no indication of segregation can exist later on. Threads are made for the advertisements, the genre-specific, and the reader/author-friendly.
The dot-com’s specific to an eReader are run by those that have the simple ability to forecast or at least know what not to do by the mistakes of other forums before them. The Kindle alone has something like half a dozen boards devoted to it that I visited.
Nook has a few also; the Barnes & Noble reader forums are run well enough that one would not have to wade through full pages of deletion messages and hidden posts that didn’t need to be displayed anyway. I did see a bit of negative posting – the usual bitching about the trivial matters – but it was of a nature you’ll come to find on any other board. As one of the commercially moderated boards, I’ve seen a reduction – by a clear half – of what its competitors allow for Malicious Spectrum activity. There’s still a few rude asshats trolling around for flame wars, but in the end the provided controls make them much easier to ignore.
The neutral ground sites like Goodreads.com allow for some advertising (for a price), but in controlled channels and working like other social websites. You can make friends, share book reviews, and all that other jazz. Although periodically buggy, I have yet to see any bigger issue than a listing losing features because of the eventual changes in the market or website adjustment. Amazon recently made a few changes that affected the book listings of several authors on Goodreads. Not a big deal unless they didn’t back up their work.
It’s the author boards I liked the most; not resembling the A-zon Auschwitz “Meet Our Authors” forums, but a kinder version where the authors work together to enrich the community. As examples to get the squares well-rounded:
A site dedicated to alerting SPA’s on major news or fads and giving time to guest blogs providing similar information: http://www.indiesunlimited.com
Author Blogs: Meet up with an SPA who acts on the goodwill of other SPA’s and you’ll likely find helpful information posted on their blog. Many allow for discussion threads if kept civil.
David Gaughran's “Let’s Get Digital”: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/
Jeff Faria's “Patriots of Mars”: http://patriotsofmars.blogspot.com/
The Kindle Hub: This is a group allowing advertisements for cheap or free books. It’s Facebook’s equivalent to the discount book stacks at your average Price Club. Just don’t go hammering the lists with more than one ad every other day or you’ll probably get booted.
Indie Writers Unite! (IWU!): This is a great group of lovely people sharing viewpoints, discussing news and events, and providing a wealth of networking services from cover artists to editors. No ads allowed save for threads specially created by the group’s creator for such a purpose. It’s one of my favorites.
Review Seekers: If you have an ebook you need reviews for you can solicit for them here. Group members trade a free copy per potential review. Ads are not permitted and are usually deleted quickly. Phil Torcivia (Author of the “Nice Guy” Series) does a fine job moderating this one.
Finally, any personally discovered advice I might have I’ll likely dispense when asked. The big things I’ve learned when communicating on forums:
- Stand by what you write, but be completely certain about what you’ve written. Watch what you say and how you say it for your words can be twisted into a foul shape that damns your reputation quickly.
- Don’t whine or bitch because someone found errors with your post/book/blog and said so. Take the review as feedback to tighten up your writing. The biggest mistake ANY SPA can make is to offend just one reviewer with a large following or adhesive online friends. Consider the result a domino effect of customer loss, and a very good reason not to give up your day job.
- Even the nicest of people are accidentally/intentionally cutting, insulting, or foolish. Do not rise to anger until you are sure you understand what they say. DON’T ASSUME – ASK! Some folks may not understand how the tone or wording of their posts and responses are construed. Others are looking for a fight.
- Everyone is right. Everyone is wrong. You’re not everyone, but you ARE someone. Someone should understand what humility is.
- Don’t let others attempt to abuse what humility you already display.
- You are not owed a spotlight, do not demand one – earn it. Demanding one will get you a spotlight eventually, however, you’ll find it’s dropped on you to shut you up.
- Not everyone will find you as witty or charming as you do.
- If an idea didn’t work the first two times you tried it, it’s probably not time for that idea to be used. Not all great works of writing became successes immediately after the author(s) submitted them. They stashed their manuscripts away until they got famous, dusted them off, and tried it again with a new perspective about what their public wants.
- No one is obligated to buy your book – not friends, not family, not your chat group. However, those that step up and help in any fashion are to be added to your “Do Not Be A Dick To:” list (I’m hearing this is considered the “True 1000 Fans” technique). You haven’t the Big 6 network finding new ways to convince the public they must buy your book, but every booster you earn likes receiving what the Big 6 gets for respect over opportunistic goals.
- Disclaimer: All of the above are subject to change at any time.