Attitudes in the book blogging community

There are some outliers that make the experience of sharing love and support for fellow writers very difficult.

I love reading. I love sharing my thoughts on what I read. I love recommending great novels. I also love sharing my experiences with writing and tidbits of information around writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. For the most part the online community is greatful and supportive. I have delightful conversations and garner knowledge from other bloggers on their own journey.

In dealing with a wide sample of the population we get a plethora of experience, knowledge, and attitudes.

Helping younger bloggers and writers elevate their content. Provide more critical reviews and recommendations, more insight into the craft of writing is what I consider what this community this community is all about.

One of my biggest dislikes has been the spam, the unsubstantiated emotional responses (*cough*trolling*cough*) and professionals coming back to members of the community with cold, threatening attitudes because they are trying to monetize and ‘own’ the content that a multitude of bloggers are posting for free. Granted it’s a small minority of the community at large, but it exists and can have an enormous impact on the person targeted with this type of behaviour.

I’ve personally had my content plagiarized. And it takes nothing to reach out to the instigator and politely ask them to either take the post down, or link it to your original material. There is no need for threats of lawyers, being rude, or charging them money for using your content. After all, you can contact the hosting service if they are in breach of copyright (WordPress has its own guidelines and governance regarding this) and the material can be taken down as a last resort. Or ultimately there is the registrar, the DMCA, or even google. (I have previously written a post with step-by-step actions about these topics here.) There are always steps to take other than a heated emails with no response.

On the other side of the coin, I have myself inadvertently breached copyright. In researching an article, I copy and pasted material into several documents for reference later offline, and to link to when I wrote and published my article. However after writing my post, I accidently deleted the finished article, and saved one of those source material documents under the title… and then it was subsequently scheduled to post. So what was published were notes cut and pasted without context of someone else’s material. Plagiarism out right. So embarrassing. A lesson learned in triple, quadruple checking the line-up of scheduled posts. I received an email the next day of a threatening nature. Granted it was my mistake, and I was able to find my original article and upload it in place of the mistakenly published article – the in-question material having only been live for 10 hours. However, this time I expanded on the topic, researched more and made it even better. The thing is, if I’d received a better toned email, I would have admitted my mistake, altered the article and the owner of some of the source material would have been credited and given a lot of hype in the article – benefitting us both. But instead I found alternate source material – who don’t require a paid subscription to access – and much more examples. My newly edited article was infinitely much better, and all reference to the nasty emailer removed. They missed out on engaging any audience funnelled from my publication just because of their attitude. I would have responded to a nice email… but I don’t reply to threats. You don’t get results for inciting negativity. You can escalate the issue for importance sure, but keep it neutral in tone. I hesitate to mention, that even after I had uploaded the correct and finished article, removing reference to the emailers original content, they continued to harass me to the point I had to block them on all of my social media accounts. This person clearly did not check the updated article, or check her tone. I wanted to issue a public apology, I wanted to contribute some of her material as inspiration for my article, but after the bullying nature and threatening nature of their correspondence (from a professional in the industry mind you,) I’m doing what my mother always said. Ignore the bullies and eventually they will find a new target to annoy.

I guess with a background in teaching – you learn a bit about reacting to attitudes; a little about conflict resolution. But with the rise of social media we are seeing a lot of this clapback mentality. Off the cuff posts, tweets, DM’s, emails designed to hurt, scare, or embarrass the target when you could take a night to sleep on the matter and craft your response more maturely. It’s hard to make this point in a world where sensational content trends regularly. Cancel culture, online bullying, clickbait, response videos, apology videos… they are big business in the news cycle. We are seeing more and more inexperienced (and some who rightfully know better) falling into this trap.

It’s a form of bullying, of hate culture, of negativity that stalls the growth of our community and the publishing industry as a whole. Sadly this is not going to go away. The only way we can start to change attitudes is to not react, or react appropriately. Know appropriate ways to respond to threats. Know the avenues you have available to protect yourself online.

Granted I don’t see this bad behaviour happen a lot within the book blogging community, but it does happen; and when it does it can really impact you.

Anyway I thought this was an interesting discussion to bring to the blog – have you experienced any of this type of behaviour? How did you deal with it? Have you made a faux-par with copyright or plagiarism, and what did you do to make amends? Do you think information around the craft of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing should be widely free and accessible to anyone online, or is it something that should be paid for?

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Do we still have personal libraries anymore?

Are private collections falling out of favour?

Growing up my family had shelves either side of our fireplace that had a lot of reference material. Novels and other fun reading material was generally kept in our bedrooms, with books for general knowledge or research kept in a central place for all to access.

Teaching in today’s climate has seen information shift online. The issue with that is whether or not that information is credible. Physical books have generally undergone a string of editors, fact checkers, and the like before reaching the shelves; where online content may not have undergone such scrutiny. *cough* fake news *cough* Not many of my students cited actual books as their reference material, and I always have to ask how they can prove the information they are presenting is true as an exerscise. Less and less we are seeing people build their own personal libraries.

Granted you can construct a virtual one. A collection of collated reference material that has been traditionally published in e-book format. Which is great for mobility, but it’s hard to have multiple books open at different parts to compare and contrast the content. Especially when you get to a more involved project drawing from several sources at a time.

Today books seem to be decorative quite a lot. An aesthetic. Displayed on coffee tables, colour coded with décor on shelves. A way to say ‘look at me I’m intelligent,’ whether or not you have even cracked the spine or not. I’ve seen bookstagrammers and book bloggers posting pictures of books and have yet to read them. There’s nothing wrong with this – I making my point about building and utilising a personal library, not just making pretty picture content.

There is always the public library for accessing material, but I still value a small functioning personal reference library at home. Recipe books, first aid books, a dictionary, a thesaurus, guides, manuals, maps… you never know one day the power might be out, and no access to the internet when you need information. Plus, I subscribe to the adage that stimulating as many senses as you can when assimilating knowledge aids retention. A physical book with the tactile sensation of the page, the act of looking up information and flipping through pages adds an element to help focus your attention. You can hold and touch an object instead of staring at a screen.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing online content, I’m simply wondering if anyone values a physical collection of books at home. I refer to my university textbooks and periodicals occasionally. I love having a book open as a reference when writing an article or working on a novel. When ghost writing content for clients, I also have may tomes open for ease of reference. Maybe it’s simply what works for me. My preferences for a physical book, my love of collecting and creating my own personal library… I know a lot of my students give me a funny look when I express my love of books at home. Bish you crazy. Why you want to lug all those books everywhere? Why are you contributing to deforestation with the need to populate your shelves with something you will only use a handful of times?

Personally, I read the books I own a number of times, I lend them out, use the reference books on a near daily basis – especially for research. Because my writing and reading activity is a part of my work and leisure time. I guess for people for whom reading and writing have different priorities in their lives see personal libraries as frivolous. A luxury.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a personal collection of books other than novels in your home. Do you see value in having a home library?

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.