Welcome to my living room on the internet.
Let me talk a little bit about the history of my home on the internet. I started out blogging on LiveJournal, which is a blogging community. And I talked about publishing and process, but in a fairly general way.
And that worked for a number of years.
What I almost never talked about was my books. But over time, people found my LJ, and they wanted to talk about my books, and I felt a little self-conscious talking about my books on LiveJournal, where the community was more general and more social, and talking about my books felt a little conspicuously like shouting: Me Me Me!
So: I started my author web-site. I posted sample chapters. I talked--when I had any news--about my books. I didn't post often, because I didn't want to drive people who came to the web-site purely for news or information away.
And that seemed to work.
But a funny thing happened. I'm not, and have never been, Robert Jordan, George Martin or Patrick Rothfuss in terms of my reach. I don't have the kind of buzz they generate, and I'm fine with that. I'm not Misty Lackey or Melanie Rawn, either.
I write my books. I try not to say too much about them, because some people hate spoilers. I try not to complain too much about the process, because every job anywhere is difficult sometimes. Butâ€¦ I can't really talk about my books as if I were a reader, because I can't ever approach them as a reader would for the first time. Or even the twentieth.
And sometimes people want to talk about the experience of reading my books. But given my general invisibility on fantasy reader radars, they haven't found many places in which they can do that.
A few years ago, my readers began to talk to each other - on my web-site, because they found people who were also interested in talking about my books there. On a release-day post about the latest novel. This made some readers unhappy because of course discussing the books meant spoilers. I then made a separate SPOILER thread, which people could easily avoid.
That worked, and I made a spoiler thread for almost every subsequent book.
So readers who wanted to discuss the book with other readers spoke to each other on the spoiler threads. I stay out of the spoiler threads. I stay out of the discussions about my books. And I've been able to do that because, while people don't always agree, they don't descend into acrimony and flames.
But the spoiler thread for Cast in Peril was 369 comments long. And that's a lot of comments, and possibly a long load time.
And I thought: maybe it's time to try forums.
I wouldn't have considered forums at all if the spoiler threads had descended into invective and angry ranting; they never have. The people who post and discuss on them have been helpful and reasonable, even when they don't agree with each other.
And what I want out of forums is for that to continue. I don't expect my forums to be crowded; I don't expect that they'll need to be moderated or policed, because of the history of the readers who have posted on my web-site.
But forums in general have rules and policies, and it's best to be clear about those up front, in case of future need. So.
The Living Room rules:
1. Since it's my Living Room, there's a strong possibility that children and grandmothers will stroll past or stop in, since both frequent my house. So I'd ask you to keep that in mind when it comes to profanity. Swear as much as I do.
2. Door to door salesmen frequently interrupt social gatherings, and they're not there to join the discussion. So: don't be that person. This isn't a tupperware party, and I don't want anyone to attempt to sell things to my visitors. If you notice that someone is advertising cheap watches or winning lottery numbers or any variant thereof, report it - and ignore it. It'll be cleaned up and swept out the door.
3. No flaming. Which is to say: no personal attacks or insults. I don't expect this will be a problem because it hasn't been - and I'd really like that to continue. Also, and this is a personal thing: don't accuse someone of trolling just because they disagree with you. Sometimes people disagree; they're not doing it to enrage or derail.
4. Things NOT to discuss on these forums: Real-world religions (any). Real-world politics (any). Explicit sexuality (because: children & grandmothers. And, to be fair, me). There are many other places to discuss any of these things - and I ask that you discuss them there. Here is not the place. This is possibly the only thing I'll be draconian about.
If, in the opinion of the management, you break these rules, we'll probably ask you to sit out the topic. If you break these rules more than once, we may ask you to sit out the week. If you can't communicate without breaking these rules, this is not the forum for you; there are lots of forums on the internet that will be more to your liking.
Also: I believe that readers should be able to discuss what they want to discuss, even if what they want to discuss is how a particular book I've written didn't work for them. For obvious reasons, I would like to personally avoid those discussions because I don't want to be a damper, and because it's not possible for me to be consistently objective about my own work. It's not entirely possible to avoid these discussions on the web-site; on the forums it will be. I've asked Tchula Ripton to moderate, as she's been the list-mom on the Yahoo West list for a number of years.
So on those parts of the forum where the discussions are about my works, she wears the big hat where necessary, because I'm not there.
As for the forums: any member can create topics, and any member can read any forum and reply there. If, for instance, you want to get people's opinions on ebook readers, you can start a post in the â€œRandomâ€ category, and ask.