Monday, October 20, 2014

Community, Kindle Alexander, and Being an Author - reboot

About a year before I started writing in the MM genre I heard three authors discussing the genre and new people in the genre. Their take was about the same as the scuttle I've recently heard. The conversation went as follows.

"What right do they have to be in the genre?" "Their sales are too high for a newcomer." "They don't deserve to sale books in this genre." "I wish there was a way we could get rid of them."

I've also heard of groups of authors who give fake reviews that are negative just to blast the newcomers. I've personally experienced an author telling her fans never to buy my work. Then recently I've spoken to authors who've had the same prejudice against new authors, saying that new authors shouldn't be successful.

The prejudice and jealousy are rampant. Recently the hubbub came out about Kindle Alexander buying reviews. I met Kindle at GRL. Kindle is two women who have come together to write as one person. Honestly, I hadn't heard of Kindle before GRL. I don't check the Amazon sales rank unless I have a new book out and I only check where it is a few times a week. For books that I co-write, I check it more often, but I rarely look to see who is number one or two or so on. I write and that is plenty for me to worry about.

Anywho, back to Kindle. I met them both and they were nice. Not that long ago I experienced the not nice side of the author world. I've had authors tell me I wasn't a real author, turn their nose up at me and basically treat me bad. I've had authors diss me for changing my profile picture, say negative things about the name I write under, tell me I'm doing it wrong, throw me under the bus, and otherwise be evil towards me. I've had authors be nice to my face then stab me in the back. I'm not perfect and yes, there are some people in the genre I prefer over others, but I try to be nice and not let my personal taste interfere with how I treat people. I get it wrong at times and I'm sorry if I've ever hurt anyone.

Kindle Alexander was a role player before becoming an author. The two of them developed characters that interacted on social media like they were real people, but like most role players most knew they weren't real people. Role-playing draws a tremendous amount of fans. Fans buy books and role-playing fans are kind of like fanfic fans, they are kind of enthusiastic and almost scary in their exuberance to someone who doesn't do role-playing.

Kindle Alexander also did a blog tour. A big blog tour. Yes, she probably paid for some of the tour spots and honestly, if she were smart, she did a few things on the tour to encourage reviews. She also gave out ARC copies and made a big deal about her book. It sold well so now people are tarring her with the same old shtick about how new people in the genre don't deserve to get high ranking on sales charts.

If fans buy Kindle's books then she deserves those sales. Amazon is set up so that people can return the books if they don't like them so her sales are what they are. If people hated the book, we'd hear about it. Trust me, when Cherished came out and it wasn't a typical BDSM book I heard about it. Also, there is one reviewer who hates me and always gives me bad reviews, from Selling It to Cherished, going so far in the original review saying that I should be barred from writing in the genre. (They've since removed that line from their review but I still remember it and the person who so helpfully sent me there so I'd see what a shitty author they thought I was)

The fans and readers like Kindle's books. As an author community, we need to get over it. If you don't like that Kindle's books hit number 1 and has stayed there, then write a better book. There is nothing stopping you from hitting number 1 on Amazon other than the fact that people didn't like your book. Not everyone is going to like every book you put out, but don't begrudge those authors who create a bestseller. You don't have to buy their books and you don't have to promote them, but you can be kind and not trash other authors.

I'm sure people will say some nasty shit about me writing this blog, and I'm sure I'll be talked about negatively. That's okay, people are going to talk crap and be mean, stabbing me in the back and saying shit about my books just because they can, but it really doesn't bother me. I'm happy writing and I'll always encourage people to write, to tell their stories even if their book is going to out perform mine because helping others, giving back and being kind makes the world a better place. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Facebook Name Policy Change

I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we've put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks.
In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we've had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. We've also come to understand how painful this has been. We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we're going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were.
The way this happened took us off guard. An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake. These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn't notice the pattern. The process we follow has been to ask the flagged accounts to verify they are using real names by submitting some form of ID — gym membership, library card, or piece of mail. We've had this policy for over 10 years, and until recently it's done a good job of creating a safe community without inadvertently harming groups like what happened here.
Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that's Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that's Lil Miss Hot Mess. Part of what's been so difficult about this conversation is that we support both of these individuals, and so many others affected by this, completely and utterly in how they use Facebook.
We believe this is the right policy for Facebook for two reasons. First, it's part of what made Facebook special in the first place, by differentiating the service from the rest of the internet where pseudonymity, anonymity, or often random names were the social norm. Second, it's the primary mechanism we have to protect millions of people every day, all around the world, from real harm. The stories of mass impersonation, trolling, domestic abuse, and higher rates of bullying and intolerance are oftentimes the result of people hiding behind fake names, and it's both terrifying and sad. Our ability to successfully protect against them with this policy has borne out the reality that this policy, on balance, and when applied carefully, is a very powerful force for good.
All that said, we see through this event that there's lots of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms, tools for understanding who's real and who's not, and the customer service for anyone who's affected. These have not worked flawlessly and we need to fix that. With this input, we're already underway building better tools for authenticating the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors. And we're taking measures to provide much more deliberate customer service to those accounts that get flagged so that we can manage these in a less abrupt and more thoughtful way. To everyone affected by this, thank you for working through this with us and helping us to improve the safety and authenticity of the Facebook experience for everyone.

So is FB actually going to change its ways or will it stay the same?