How to Use Book Country
Some thoughts on best practices, etiquette, and safety on Book Country
Navigating an online writing community is a little different from interacting with critique partners or beta readers in person. So, I’ve jotted down some thoughts on best practices on the Book Country site that can be helpful to new and seasoned users alike.
As a new member, you should always start with the Terms of Service, The Community Guidelines, and other posts in the “How to Use Book Country” part of the discussion forum. The discussion thread about how to use the star ratings and review books is particularly enlightening if you want to understand how the Book Country reviewing process works, or need some guidance on how to give reviews to others. (Hint: star ratings are not about how “good” or “bad” a book is but about how publishable it is in its current state.)
Book Country members have to be 18 or older to be part of the community. When we find underage users, we ban them from the site. We mostly have that rule for safety reasons, to protect minors – not because we won’t to keep them away from the site. If you are under 18 and are looking for a writing community, we recommend Figment.com, which exclusively caters to a younger demographic. We’d love to have you back once you turn 18!
Another term of use is that if you deactivate your account, any books-in-progress (“Work”) you’ve uploaded will be deleted from the site. You own the copyright to your Work, period, so you don’t have to worry about that. However, reviews and discussion comments will continue to live on the site, so please post accordingly. If, for work purposes, you don’t want your employer or colleagues to see discussion comments you’ve written, just don’t use your full name but a nickname or a pseudonym. We have no control over what shows up in search results when people look up your name, so please use your judgment when using the site.
This is common sense and applies to online conduct in general: don’t post any private or personal information that you don’t want other people on the wide web to see.
Be particulalry wary about sharing personal information on the site such as a phone number, email address, or home address. To get in touch with a fellow Book Country member, it might be better to use social media instead. Establish contact through Twitter or your website; then you can direct message and exchange information in a safer way, preventing unwanted attention or spam.
We’re really excited when members want to be friends outside of the confines of Book Country, but consider that the information you post in discussions and reviews is public and therefore visible to everybody.
Last but not least, respect your fellow members. Thank people for posting a review, especially if it seems like they’ve spent quite some time reading and writing. You may not agree with their opinions or recommendations, so say so politely but still acknowledge their time and effort.
If, on the other hand, you don’t feel that confident about writing reviews, don’t worry: nobody expects a professional editorial letter. Always have something substantial to say, though – an abstract one-sentence review won’t help anybody. Go with the golden rule and give your fellow writers the kind of quality feedback you’d like to receive.
Book Country is a safe haven for writers to exchange and brew ideas-in-progress, so do your best to give and accept criticism gracefully. (I know, easier said than done.) Needless to say, we want you to feel comfortable using the site, so if someone is rude or abusive to you, let us know through the “Report Abuse” button. We’ve banned users for abuse in the past, so we won’t hesitate to do so again if someone crosses the line. A low star rating is never a reason to push that abuse button, however.
These are some of the things that I wanted to share with everybody about the best ways use the site. Feel free to add more to the list in the comments below.
Happy reading and writing!