Is Goodreads’ Author Page A Minestrone?

This post’s title comes from a song released in 1975 by 10cc that claims, “Life is a minestrone served up with parmesan cheese.” I was 18 at the time and the song summed up my life very well. I had a profound sense of humor (if I do say so myself). Then I went off like a happy Don Quixote to fight windmills. I’ve not been the same since.

Fast-forward to my 65th year to be alive and my continuing adventures of self-publishing my books. Like Rocky and Bullwinkle looking for treasure, whether hidden in a jet fuel formula, buried somewhere in Frostbite Falls, or of the Monte Zoom kind, I’ve had my own Boris and Natasha impeding my way, disguised as helpful hosts along the Internet highway.

One of those impediments has been Goodreads’ author program. I was using their program since 2008 to keep track of my books, so after Amazon bought them out in 2013, they invited me to be a listed author there. It sounded like a “fun” thing to do. It wasn’t. You can read about a kerfuffle I had with them in 2014 at One Little Period Screwed the Pooch. That was when I published my books as Steven L Campbell and wanted my author’s name listed as such. They said no, it was their way or the highway. I chose the latter, but not because of the name situation. It was the rude comments from one of their librarians that led me to remove my books at their site and to stop publishing my books at Amazon.

However, time heals all wounds, so I returned to publishing at Amazon 2 years ago and made a new author page at Goodreads, this time as Steve Campbell. Right away, the folks (librarians?) at Goodreads confused me with another author named Steve Campbell and dumped his books on my author page. It took several weeks to clean up that snafu.

Now, 2 years later, they’ve dumped 7 books narrated by another Steve Campbell on my page.

Seriously, I don’t know what to make of how prone to errors their author program is. I contacted them yesterday (23 hours ago as of this writing) in their “Book Issues > This book is not mine, please move it (part 11)” section, which is part of their Librarians Group discussion section. I’m awaiting a reply. I’m #340 on the list, so it may take a while, though others who have posted after me have received corrections.

Some of the feedback I received last year at another site says, “Goodreads has been frozen in time since 2013 when Amazon acquired them” and “The design is like a teenager’s 2005 Myspace page.” Many authors that I’ve talked to have had to wait weeks before Goodreads listed their books correctly.

One alternative is to leave Goodreads, as other indie authors have done. “It hurts sales a bit,” a friend told me, “but there are other ways to promote yourself as an author. And I have fewer headaches than when I was at Goodreads.”

I may follow his advice. I can still publish at Amazon, leave their KDP Select program after a year, and publish elsewhere—Smashwords perhaps. Why not? After all, “Life is a minestrone served up with parmesan cheese,” and dealing with websites like Goodreads that don’t function well is “a cold lasagna suspended in deep freeze.”

That’s all for now. I’ll keep you abreast of any news or changes.

Thanks for reading. I need to put on some music now to help get rid of this ever-playing earwig: “Mini-mini-mini-minestrone…”

New Year Goal [writing news]

plan

I’m an artist, but I don’t do much art anymore except create covers for my books. I’m a writer, but I don’t write as often as I want to. So I’m mostly a reader when I’m not working my “9 to 5” job, studying the craft of writing in the books I read, and dreaming of writing the stories in my head and turning them into books for others to read.

For many years I’ve considered creating a series of books called The Ridgewood Chronicles. I did a test run of that idea in 2013 at Amazon.com when I published several short ebooks that became known as The Green Crystal Stories. The first book did well and prompted me to turn it into an experimental novel called Margga’s Curse. It didn’t become as popular as I’d hoped it would, so now it’s on my list of short-lived books—one that I’ll “unpublish” sometime this year. But parts of it will stay alive if I ever write my Ridgewood Chronicles series.

And that’s what was on my mind December 31, 2016 when midnight drew closer and I considered plans for the new year. The first thing I did was make a daily planner on my laptop and start chipping away at the idea that seemed to be buried inside a mountain of marble—marble that also has doubts and fears in it, mixed with hopes and dreams.

From my planner, the journey began. Here are my notes, which may not make complete sense to you unless you’re familiar with publishing ebooks at Amazon.com.

  • Sun 1—One of my resolutions is to concentrate on reestablishing order and content of my books at Amazon KDP; another is to publish physical paperback this year.
  • Mon 2—Two stories I’m considering reestablishing are Kismet and Night of the Hellhounds/Margga’s Curse. Undecided about POV with latter, though I’m favoring strict first person now.
  • Tue 3—Read Kismet again today. May need to add second part I started but never developed—part where Catherine is aware of two alternate dimensions. Will involve months of work if I decide to do it.
  • Wed 4—Second part (Act 2?) and climax and dénouement (Act 3?) of Kismet will need helper character—perhaps male character (magic abilities?) to add conflict between marriage.
  • Thu 5—Male helper/conflict character could be tie-in with Night/Curse—perhaps Grandma Evelyn’s son Balen Renfrew.
  • Fri 6—Kismet is obviously first story of series (Ridgewood Chronicles?) but fourth book on KDP list by date published. Should I unpublish all books and rearrange them in their stories’ chronological order? If so, should I scrap their current titles and begin anew with different ASINs? How much confusion will that cause to readers who own my books now? Past confusion was caused by Goodreads’ librarians when I changed titles—they’re too righteous and didn’t work well with me. Though they’re affiliated with Amazon, I see no reason to use Goodreads as an avenue for my books.
  • Sat 7—Must decide about Kismet and Night of the Hellhounds/Margga’s Curse and my KDP list so I can post news at my blog.
  • Sun 8—Still undecided. Irritating how quickly work fatigue derails my concentration. Need to decide and blog plans tomorrow. Also consider new titles for changes.

And here I am, the journey underway. I plan to keep you posted with my progress as often as possible. And hopefully we’ll see The Ridgewood Chronicles a reality by December 31 of this year.

Come Wattpad with Me

I like online sites that let writers/authors post their writing/books free without taking control of the content. Wattpad is one of those sites, which I joined a couple years ago. It was during the same time that I created an author page at Goodreads, and I spent nearly all my online time there, listing my books, adding my blog, and letting all my readers and Facebook fans know about it. I did nothing with my Wattpad page, which was a mistake.

Most of the problems with Goodreads arose when I changed the titles of some of my books and took others off the market. These were e-books, not hard-copy books, and sold through Amazon, though I did sell a couple of titles at B&N. I wrestled long with the Goodreads librarians to keep my readers and fans abreast of those changes, which, after months of begging, the librarians refused to do. Original titles stayed, they told me. So did out-of-print books (their term for my e-books taken off market). To do differently would upset the libraries there. Frustrated, I ended my association with Goodreads. My author page still exists there, complete with all the incorrect listings of my books.

LibraryThing is another online library where authors can list their books. They allow authors full control of their pages. Where Goodreads is Hell, LibraryThing is Heaven. So, while I happily updated my books there, a reader/fan asked me about my Wattpad page—the one I ignored for two years.

If, by some slim chance you’re unfamiliar with Wattpad, it’s a writing community in which users can (in Wattpad’s own words) “discover and share stories: a social platform that connects people through words. … With Wattpad, anyone can read or write on any device: phone, tablet, or computer.” You can read and write stories, articles, poems, even fan fiction, and comment and like what you read. You can even join groups of your favorite genres.

As of this post, I have two followers and I’m following four people. I have five short stories there and more to add. I have far to go to build my readership/fan base. If you are at Wattpad, let me know. I would love to hear from you.

One Little Period Screwed the Pooch [book news]

Life can be a comedy of doing the silly walk (as portrayed on Monty Python). Self-publishing my books has been a long road of silly walks so far.

I am an indie author who publishes as Steven L Campbell. Notice that I put no period after my initial. Like President Harry S Truman’s initial (though, he had no middle name, I think). Anyway, I think it looks classier than punching a period after it. And the venues where I sell my books have no problem that I do not put a period after my initial. Neither do my faithful readers and followers. Why should they care how I wish my name to appear on my books or at my websites? It’s no big deal. Right?

Well, for some websites, it is a big deal. And one that seems close to being a criminal act. Before I added an author page to my Goodreads account, I was Steven L Campbell, Goodreads reader. Then I became Steven L Campbell, Goodreads author for a short time before the librarians there decided I had to be Steven L. Campbell, Goodreads author.

You wouldn’t think adding a period would cause so much chaos. But it did when some of the book websites that sell my books confused Steven L and Steven L. as two separate authors. Even Goodreads confuses my Steven L books as books written by someone else. So I asked the Goodreads librarians if I could revert to Steven L (no period) Campbell. The librarian who answered me was far from polite about it, threatening to remove my books and banning me from Goodreads if I attempted to remove the period.

So, here I am, Steven-L-period-Campbell.

I think North Americans make too big a deal about periods after initials. Many European authors omit periods after initials and spell Mr, Mrs and Dr without periods. Harry S Truman had no period after his initial because it did not stand for a name. But some librarians—probably North American—got their panties in a bunch and almost all references to the man have a period after the S.

In my opinion, it has to do with conformity. We have to label everything and put it in labeled boxes. We get smacked if we put it in the wrong box. And yet, twenty-first century educators squawk at their students to think outside the box. Is it good advice to do so? Or is it anarchy and chaos?

In my case with Goodreads, I have taken to the box and conformed. I dislike being smacked.