Sunday, January 8, 2012

The international water cooler of the book reader's world.

I have been having great fun recently with goodreads. What an amazing community it is. A place where book-lovers from all over the world can hang out and talk about the books they've loved and loved not so much. I am cementing local friendships and meeting new people. I am talking about books and some people are even talking about mine. If you have read a book that blew your mind or changed it, that you are keen to share with other people who have also read it, then goodreads is for you. It is the international watercooler of the book readers world. If you were concerned that people might not be reading books anymore, at goodreads you can see them in their thousands consuming books like 2012 was gonna be the end of the world. And oh the books. Many more than you can hope to discover on your own, and reviews you can read to help you choose. Happy sigh - my faith is restored.

On goodreads I have discovered some new book review blogs here and here (feeling very curious about Amanda Hocking's upcoming series) and checked out a blog post arguing in defense of negative reviews here (save the fluffy pink unicorns?) . Over the weekend I taught a two day workshop on writing for children at the University of Auckland's Centre for Continuing Education. If any participants are reading this I just want to thank you for being a fantastic group. You made my task a real pleasure and I am looking forward to seeing your names on the front of books for children in the future. It is always a revelation to examine your own process to share the nuts and bolts of it with others. Writing is an inexact science underpinned by highly individualistic philosophical, cultural and psychological beliefs. None of it is gospel - it is a starting place from which you can develop your own opinions, beliefs and strategies. During the course of the afternoon session of the second day we were discussing the necessity and merits of having an online presence as an author. There was some concern about attracting negative reviews or comments online so Shiloh Walker's post defending negative press is timely. We live in an age where communities flourish online. It makes up a significant proportion of many people's social interactions. People hang out, chill out, and shop online. They make decisions based on what they see and hear online (no licking or sniffing the screen yet folks). It is a part of the social fabric of the world we live in. We can't prevent people from drawing a negative opinion about what we say, do, write or publish. And reactions to the products of creativity are highly personal. We all have different tastes. I know what I like and I assume you know what you like. Truth be told  negative reviews do hurt. My books are my babies that I want to protect from unpleasant comments. But it would be foolish to think everyone is going to like/love my book or even this blog. I figure by having a presence online I can let people know who I am, and what I believe in and value. Then others can read my words, read the words of others and form their own opinions. As people much more famous than I have said, (and I paraphrase), "there's no such thing as bad publicity" and "it's better to be talked about negatively, then not talked about at all". I'll take my lumps, and then I can express my own opinion in my turn.

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