Friday, September 7, 2012

Wise Words from Professional Authors

Just today we've read two blog posts (plus comments) by professional authors that accurately reflect one of the main reasons for our dislike for the actions of what we've labeled the GR Reviewer Brigade. They've said it better than we ever could.

On Tuesday, Joe Konrath wrote a post called Writer's Code of Ethics. For those who aren't familiar with Joe, he started out commercially published and has since moved into--and is a big advocate for--self-publishing. He is very outspoken and often sarcastic. We recommend that everyone read the entire post, which is addressing the latest tempest-in-a-teapot of purchased reviews/sock-puppets/etc. At one point, Joe writes:

Morals and ethics are slippery slope, and I think muck-rakers are on par with sock-puppeteers as far as scum-suckers go.
The current level of sanctimonious bullshit on the Internet that makes me feel I'm required to publicly proclaim my innocence is repulsive.
Later in the comments, in response to another poster, Joe says:

...when outrage becomes a witch hunt, and when pointing fingers becomes self-pleasuring, it's time to take a step back and find some perspective.
Muck-raking and witch-hunting continually occur on GoodReads whenever an author breaks some unwritten rule of how reviewers think authors should behave. And we do think that many of the comments across as sanctimonious.

Barry Eisler, an author who should need no introduction, also wrote a blog post on Tuesday about his initial hesitant support for a message/blog post called No Sock Puppets Here Please. He has since rescinded his support of that site and explained why as an update to his original post. Here is the part of his post that resonated with us (there are links in the quoted text that didn't come through; see the original post):

Many of the posts on the recent revelations of deceptive practices in publishing felt to me like versions of "Shocked, shocked!" Others struck me as embarrassingly self-important and sanctimonious: yes, deception is ugly, and yes, the integrity of pretty much any system is important, but come on, people, we're not talking about whitewashing torture, or concealing safety problems in nuclear reactors, or a ginned-up controversy to persuade people that climate change isn't real. We write stories. We sell them online. Yes, it matters and yes, we need to ensure insofar as possible that it's done with integrity, but it isn't life-or-death. Perspective.
Again, please read his entire post as it is a thoughtful discussion of the issues.

Unfortunately, we don't see any immediate end to the witch-hunting, the finger pointing, the self-righteous exclamations of "gaming the system", etc. on Goodreads. We may not be a part of a currently-nonexistent solution--as one commenter pointed out--but we also don't see any solution unless the people involved take a long hard look at what they are doing and how their behavior is contributing to the current toxic atmosphere on GR.