For those of you who might not know, I'm a huge fan of the site Goodreads. It is a wonderful place for both readers and authors to gather together. There are groups on a wide range of topics. You can discuss individual books, authors, genres, blogging, reviewing, marketing -- well, you get the idea. It has been a terrific source for support and a gold mine of information for a new self-published author like myself.
My experiences with Goodreads has been nothing but positive. I've met some really awesome people on the site and found a lot of support as a self-published author. As an author, it is always pointed out that you must tread lightly in some groups. Goodreads was created as a place for avid readers to share their love of reading, but where the readers gather so too will the authors flock. As many of us know, readers don't like getting spammed to buy a book, but it happens. There will always be that person that thinks the rules of society, the group or the individual never apply to them.
On Goodreads, the etiquette for authors has been for them to become a part of the community and share more than just your book.Let's face it, most of authors are readers as well and you can talk about the genre you read and share thoughts on the books you've read. It's not hard. The idea being that if people get to know you, find your posts interesting, then they might be open to reading what you have written.
I've tried to follow that philosophy and seem to be successful in at least avoiding any backlash from readers, so far. However, there have been several authors from Goodreads that have been the targets of bullying. Now, I can't say for certain that all of these authors avoided spam or were innocent in their dealings with the groups and individuals they encountered problems with. What I can say is that bullying in any form is unacceptable behavior.
The internet makes it too easy at times for people to engage in bad behavior because they aren't forced to look a person in the eye as they spout their hate. However the feelings are still real and the names on our screens connect back to real people. Bullying in any way, shape or form is wrong. There is a new group on Goodreads that is dedicated to standing up to the bullies. Whether you are a part of that group or not, I think it is important that when you see someone getting bullied take a stand. Be sure to make it clear that whether you are a reader or an author that personal attacks, hate speak and rants are not acceptable forms of communication.
No one is always going to like what we say, what we post or what we think. Everyone is entitled to share their opinions and have that opinion respected even if it isn't agreed with. Let us all keep our eyes open for incidents where someone crosses that line and be there to say that we don't tolerate that action.