facebook and sexism

Author Alleges B&N Plays with Bestseller Lists; Facebook and Sexism; Van Gogh’s Ear

An author I don’t know recently posted something on Goodreads about how she thinks B&N might be playing around with books on bestseller lists.

Barnes and Noble appear to be manipulating their Nook bestseller list. They seem to have issue with either self published books or books containing erotic content, or both, and they don’t want them being too visible on their site. From what we can gather, there seems to be an artificial wall in their rankings, somewhere around #125, and any books they deem unworthy cannot rank higher, no matter how many copies they sell. My two titles are both currently affected by this, as are Cassia Leo’s USA today best selling Shattered Hearts books, and several other works.

These are very strong allegations and I have no comment. I rarely bother to check my ranks or numbers on B&N because most of my sales come from other web sites where e-books are sold. But I have been thinking about something new, a brand new web site where I can sell my own books, set my own prices, and deal with my own clients/readers with my own brand of customer service. It’s the author working as a businessperson in these changing times. I encourage all authors to start considering this. I think it’s the only way to go in the future.

Frankly, I’ve been doing this brand of customer service all along with my indie books. I think I’ve even posted about this before. I get e-mails all the time from readers about issues they have with web sites where e-books are sold and I just deal with the complaints myself. It’s easier than dealing with some of these web sites that really don’t give a damn, I wind up with happier clients/readers, and I get to sleep better at night knowing I did my job well. I encourage readers to contact me about these things. It’s part of my job.

As for bestseller lists, I’ve posted about those before, too. Though I know nothing about how B&N does things, I do know I’ve never been able to figure out how a book that can be number one on a bestseller list (not on B&N) doesn’t outsell books that never made these so-called bestseller lists. This has happened to me more than once. The numbers don’t add up anywhere.

We’re living in interesting times. You can read the blog post in full here.

Women, Action & the Media

There’s a new facebook page titled, Women, Action & the Media that seems to be centered around  sexism and things like hate speech. I haven’t clicked “like” yet because I’m not sure if men are allowed to join. But here’s something from a recent update.

Facebook has already been a leader on the internet in addressing hate speech on its service. We believe that this is the foundation for an effective working collaboration designed to confront gender-based hate speech effectively. Our mutual intent is to create safe spaces, both on and off-line. We see this as a vital and essential component to the valuable work that Facebook is doing to address cyber-bulling, harassment and real harm.

It seems very facebook oriented, and geared toward promoting facebook as much as it is geared toward promoting the cause. And that’s because all this started on facebook. I find this ironic since so much of the hate speech we see these days happens on facebook. And so many fake accounts and fake identities exist it’s hard to trust anything on facebook at all. I’ve always maintained that if everyone on facebook was forced to join with their real name and real identity we’d see less of these issues. But then again, more than half the people using facebook would disappear and social media stock would crash.

In this article facebook admits something may have been wrong.

Women’s groups have complained to Facebook about misogynous content in the past, but pressure on the company escalated last week when a collective led by Women, Action and the Media; Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism Project; and Soraya Chemaly, a writer and activist, published an open letter asking Facebook executives to “ban gender-based hate speech on your site.”

At least they seem to be doing something about it. I’m sure the fact that a few large advertisers like Nissan said they would back out if something wasn’t done helped give them a little nudge.

Facebook is also that social media web site where anyone can report gay content of the purest kind, and gay members of facebook have their accounts shut down without an explanation or warning. It’s also a web site where someone can report you and your content and facebook will put up a warning each time someone wants to check out your web site. You don’t have to actually do anything wrong either. In other words, facebook doesn’t believe in the good old fashioned American concept of innocent until proven guilty. I think everyone in Cupertino was absent from school the day they discussed this. With facebook you are guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. And only if you can get one of those organic facebots out in Cupertino to actually acknowledge you.

I know this sounds like a positive thing. But I know social media well, and what worries me is how many innocent groups and users will be targeted now. I despise anything associated with hate speech, abuse, or rape culture. However, I do know there are a lot of nasty corrupt people on facebook who use issues like this to hurt innocent people. And, things can often be distorted or misinterpreted by those who don’t understand. I had a book released with rough sex between vampires and several people thought it was BDSM, because they didn’t know the difference between rough sex, fictional sex with vampires, and the actual BDSM lifestyle (there’s a huge difference between rough sex and BDSM). So this new concept on facebook should be interesting. And my advice to everyone on facebook would be to watch every single thing you say from now on, because freedom of speech as a concept is becoming less important as each day passes.

For those who might be interested, here’s a link.

Van Gogh’s Ear

This is one of those things I have always loved. Van Gogh’s Ear is an annual anthology that celebrates the arts in a very unusual way. If I ever win the lottery, it’s the kind of thing I could spend the rest of my life doing.

Founded by Ian Ayres, Van Gogh’s Ear: Best World Poetry, Prose & Art is an annual anthology series devoted to publishing powerful works by major voices and innovative new talents from around the globe. The goal of Van Gogh’s Ear is to make each volume a real eye-opener that stirs people’s emotions and ignites their imaginations. Experimental work is warmly embraced. Taboos extremely encouraged.

Although I’ve never actually submitted something to them, I’ve always been tempted. I like the part where they say taboos are encouraged. It’s hard to define great art because all art is so subjective, but I’ve always believed things like this help distinguish art from commercialism.

You can check them out here.