Authors: Where Is Your Happiest Place Online?

I’ll discuss a few places, then I’ll cast my vote in the last paragraph. I’d also like to hear your vote, if you’d be so kind as to leave a comment.

Let me start with Amazon, since it’s a huge website that authors are familiar with. I love shopping for books (and more) at Amazon and I love the support that Amazon has given to authors, including indies. It doesn’t win my vote with regards to happiness, however. For one, the current customer review and comment platform detracts a little from what would be a much more positive ambiance. It’s great that they promote freedom and independence, I just wish they could do that and still limit the occasional spitefulness. Another problem I see is that I sometimes find myself frustrated when trying to search for and discover new books by keyword or in a category. It’s sort of an inherent problem in trying to search through twenty million books. Maybe if we could see more than a dozen or so books on a page that would help speed up the process; sometimes, the way the results are ordered seems to make us scratch our heads, too. Still, I love Amazon and continue to use it.

There are many features that I enjoy at Goodreads, both as a reader and an author. Authors can connect with other authors, and friend reviews are allowed but clearly marked as such (I happened to see one on an author’s page recently, and thought it was an interesting option). You can see what friends have read, are reading, or intend to read. You can discover new books. However, there seems to be a little too much negativity (enough that some authors actually shudder at the mention of the website’s name), but not enough effort to try to make the ambiance more positive throughout. Again, perhaps the negativity is associated with the effort to provide independence and freedom. On the other hand, my vote goes to a website that seems to promote freedom and independence quite well, yet still appears to be a much more positive environment. If they can do it, why can’t others?

Another popular place among authors is CreateSpace. There may be a little room for improvement, but overall I like the way the website works as far as publishing books goes. I also love the wealth of free publishing and marketing information available to authors (if you haven’t checked it out before, you should). The community discussion forum is a nice place for authors to interact with one another, and a good place to look for publishing help. There are many helpful members there, some who are small publishers with many years of publishing experience. For the most part, the forum is very courteous (especially, compared to some community forums on other websites). Still, there are a couple of reasons that CreateSpace didn’t receive my vote. First, the file review process can be a little frustrating at times – even if you submit the interior or cover to specifications, there are sometimes unexpected changes (like telling you that your file is too complex, or resizing the cover on you). The defect rate may be a little higher than we may like (we can hope that they are working to improve this), yet there are defects with all publishers. Finally, eStore sales require the customer to setup a CreateSpace account and it’s not intuitive for customers to search for books on CreateSpace. Nonetheless, I still love CreateSpace and continue to use it, even though there are promising new rivals like Ingram Spark.

I’ll cast my vote now. WordPress is the happiest place online for me. Authors seem to enjoy ample freedom, independence, and creativity, while also in my experience it’s usually a very happy place online. The exception may be the occasional bitter rant, but that’s easy to ignore if you want. The comments section is often filled with positive interactions. The sense of community here at WordPress has been excellent, in my experience. WordPress draws me in like a magnet. I don’t hesitate, fearing negative experiences. I find myself spending way much more time writing posts and reading posts than I ever imagined, and I enjoy it. A positive ambiance attracts people, and the people make or break the place. Here’s a big THANK YOU to all the great people who make this place. 🙂 Please remember to cast your vote and share your opinions and experience.

19 comments on “Authors: Where Is Your Happiest Place Online?

  1. My happiest place online is Facebook. I really enjoy keeping in touch with my friends in this way, and Twitter is getting to be really fun, now that I’m writing for HuffPo, because I can engage with a lot of people there. I also really love YouTube. If I’m having a bad day, I will go there and enter “puppies” in the search box and kill 10 minutes making myself happy. Great post, Chris! And thanks for being such a great community builder.

  2. I belong to a private writing group on Facebook. There are only 19 of us but we’ve become so close. Since forming by chance three years ago we’ve gotten to know each other, published books together and we’ve all shared in our successes. I feel the same was with the WordPress community. For books, I love the NPR book reviews and the Barnes & Noble page. For Indie writers I look at reviews from bloggers. And yes, oh my gosh YOUTUBE! My daughter and I laugh until our sides hurt. It is also a great place to find useful information (but what could be more useful than laughing together.)

  3. Agreed. WordPress offers much and asks little in return, other than that you accept their editors’ politics. Hey, editors get to editorialize in any pub. So chipping in my thanks.

    • Thank you for stopping by and taking time to comment. That brings up a great point about websites needing to balance editorialship and freedom, while also being user-friendly, attracting a large audience, and providing a welcoming atmosphere. From a design perspective, it must be a challenge to balance this properly. It’s much easier for the small guy (me!) to say what I’d like to see from my perspective. 🙂

  4. My answer to your headline was WordPress even before I read the rest of your piece. I am happiest here because we are truly sharing in a more informative way instead of a couple of sentences. WP has my vote.

  5. It’s hard to choose out of so many good websites. But I would probably choose Goodreads or WordPress. I’m new to WordPress, but it’s still amazing for me to use and interact with other people.

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