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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Conversations With Myself (& Hopefully You): Interactions With Authors


This discussion is inspired by two things that happened to me recently. First, I received a comment from an author on my review of her latest book disagreeing with my assessment of the book although not necessarily in a mean way (I don't think?).  Second, I received an email from an author thanking me for my review of his book -- it was very nice but I was surprised by it.  Now, I want to put both of these events into context -- I did not tag either author on twitter or other social media or otherwise try to promote either review (other than the automatic bloglovin tweet that happens with every post) but I did upload feedback to NG/Edelweiss for both books.  Neither review was negative -- both over 3.5 stars but I was definitely surprised and a little startled by both interactions and I wasn't sure how or if to respond.  Now, I know popular bloggers (which I do not proclaim to be) have probably experienced both such events and probably many times over but since they both were a first for me, I'm wondering:

What are your own rules regarding interactions with authors?

I personally have never really had any rules for interacting with authors, mostly because I'm off the radar for most authors and it doesn't come up other than I would NEVER tag an author in a negative review. But after these two events last month, I started thinking about it more.  Full disclosure:  I didn't respond to either the comment or the e-mail.  However, I didn't delete the comment either because that seemed almost worse.  The most interaction I ever have with authors is on twitter-- sometimes (not often) I will respond to my favorite author's tweets if they are asking for book recs or the like and I do tag authors on extremely favorable reviews and sometimes on memes like Waiting on Wednesday or giveaways of their books (not reviews) in hopes of promoting both.  I know a lot of bloggers don't do even this anymore because of perceived bias and because of other book bloggers' negative experience with authors but I haven't yet had that problem personally and, truth be told, I want an author to know if I loved their book!!  

As always, these are just my thoughts -- I know a lot of book bloggers have posted discussions far more encompassing than mine but this is on my mind right now.  I want to know whether you have any "rules" for yourself regarding interactions with authors.  Sure, we all know not to tag an author on a negative review but what do you do if the author interacts with you first?  And do you actively seek out author interaction and, if so, how and when?  No judgment here, I just want to know! 

LET'S DISCUSS!  
WHAT DO YOU THINK and HOW DO YOU INTERACT WITH AUTHORS?

44 comments:

  1. So interesting. I have a similar policy - I tag authors in positive reviews (sometimes). The only author interaction I had was with an author who reached out to me directly for a review. When I reviewed her book, it was a 3 star read for me, but I had asked her to do an interview for my blog, which she did willingly. She was a little disappointed in my review, but not mean about it. We did converse a little on it, but nothing to heavy - a couple of emails. Ultimately when it went live, I didn't tag her in my Twitter post, but she retweeted it herself. As they say, bad publicity is still better than no publicity I guess. If I were you, I probably would reply to both the negative and positive comment/email, but that's just me.

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    1. Thanks Kate -- that is nice that the author still responded to you and did the interview!

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  2. I have tried tagging authors in review (once), but then decided I really didn't like being put in the spotlight, and decided against it. I do follow some authors on Twitter, but I really only interact with them via likes, RTs (not even), or if they decide to talk about video games (lol). I don't really put my reviews out there except on Twitter, but usually authors don't see them. One time, an author did and thanked me for the review. I kind of got stressed out over it and double checked if I said anything mean in my 3-star review, which I did not.

    To conclude, I guess I try to avoid most interactions, if not all. I think I would reply to the email and the comment, but it is kind of stressful if you think about it. You do you!

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    1. Thanks Valerie -- it is stressful because you never know how an author will respond/react and you don't want to jeopardize any relationships because of future books!

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  3. I've never really had any author interactions, except Conn Iggulden liking my favourable review of one of his books on Twitter (and I didn't even tag him!), so I can understand why you were a bit startled by both of these interactions, and I would have done the same by not replying! I'm not sure what either author intended to achieve with these interactions - your opinion of their book is your opinion, after all, and so they can't really change it, or even disagree with it.

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    1. Thanks Laura -- very cool when an author likes your tweet of a review -- I always get excited! And yes, that's exactly it -- what did either author hope to achieve by this interaction? For me to change my mind?

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  4. I'm the same as you in that I only tag authors in positive reviews. Sometimes the author might thank me on twitter, which is really sweet and I have no problem with that. But I've never had an author directly commenting/disagreeing with my review. I honestly don't know how I'd handle that. Our reviews are personal opinions, and we have the right to say how we feel about a book. Whilst I can understand how it must feel for authors to see comments regarding their book that they don't agree with, I don't think it's fair for them to call a reviewer out on it. At the end of the day, an author should understand that readers interpret things in their own way.

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    1. Thanks Katie! I totally agree, that readers should be able to interpret and feel what they want about a book -- that is the purpose of art -- and no one should bully you to change your opinion!

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  5. This is why I just don't interact with authors anymore, it just makes me feel better knowing that I don't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings or second guessing my review just because they may see it. Because even if it's a book I like or love, there can still be things that may have bothered me. I think authors should just stay out of commenting regarding reviews and bloggers should use common sense when it comes to tagging authors (don't tag them in negative reviews). Other than that, maybe bloggers should worry more about their reviews and less about how that review will affect the author. I see so much recently how authors are saying that they don't like being tagged for reviews (even positive ones) because it gives them anxiety. To me, that kind of feels like...emotional manipulation on bloggers. Don't try to make us feel bad! If they can't handle reviews (even positive ones) then maybe it's time to either back away from social media...or get a new job. Great post Eva!

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    1. Thanks N -- I totally get what you're saying about just going cold turkey re: all interactions. I never want to second guess a review! And yes, I really think bloggers should worry more about their reviews than about impressing an author and/or worrying about an author's reaction.

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  6. I interact with authors here and there on social media. Like you (and many commenters), I don't tag authors in negative reviews. That's just super douchey. I will tag authors in 4 and 5-star reviews but nothing under those, even though I consider 3 stars a positive rating.

    I don't mind authors commenting on reviews if it's a "Thanks for reviewing" but it seems strange to me for an author to go on someone's review and comment on how they disagree. Or similarly, go on social media and talk about how X reviewer gave their book X rating and how wrong they are. Professionally, I think it's best to just say "Thank you" or something polite and move on.

    I haven't had an author comment on my review before and disagree with me. But I have had readers who are either on an author's street teams or just rabid fangirls comment on my reviews and tell me how I am wrong and should have pointed out the things that the commenter liked about the book. That was awkward.

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    1. Thanks Megan! Yes, 4 stars is my limit, too for a tag. The author subtweeting is something I didn't even address but I feel like I'm seeing it more and more and it's discouraging!

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  7. I don't interact with authors per say, but I have tagged them on Twitter or FB before when I'm reading their book and loving it. I removed myself from tagging authors otherwise because it garnered responses, messages, and the like leading to a friendship. I love the friendships, but then there's the difficulty of reviewing an ARC for a friend and being honest. I really liked a book from an author who became a friend, but one passage didn't take well with me, so I mentioned it in a nice way. I was asked via social media private message to change my review by that author.

    With regards to the possibly not nice comment, I would probably have to respond with a "Thank you for visiting," and anything you wanted to add if you liked the book overall...in brevity. I wouldn't get into a back and forth with the author if he or she commented after that.

    There's a fine line when it comes to authors for me. I'm a blogger who loves to read books and appreciate their hard work in writing them. If they comment, and I have had some comment on reviews before, I respond politely. I was lucky enough that most of the comments have shown gratitude.

    Like Megan said, I've had tour hosts who have asked if I was warped or crazy and become ravenous because I didn't like a book above 3 stars. At the end of the day, you're the one who has to live with and stand by what you wrote.

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    1. Thanks Kathy -- I totally understand what you mean about the friendships being great but the ARC reviewing making such friendships difficult and awkward at times. Yes, I suppose I should respond to the comment, although the author may not have ever even thought about it again. Tour hosts can be very vigilant in my experience, too

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  8. My interaction with authors is nominal. I do sometimes tag authors in my reviews, or if I have something to say. But I don't fear any of what I say. I don't want to be mean to anyone, but I always want to be honest. It's something to be said about being too close at the same time.

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    1. Thanks Jazmen - and yes, being too close to an author definitely makes me scrutinize the blogger's review of their work

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  9. So... this is such an interesting topic! First, were the books self published? Because those reviews go straight to the author on NG. Weird, right? Anyway.

    I had more interaction with authors when I first started blogger vs now. I love it, it's fun and getting to know them, like anyone, is fun. It makes me feel good when they email me because their words made me feel something, and I was able to give that to them. But, I feel like there is a line ya know? There are some authors I was/am close to, that i wont review their books on my blog because it doesn't feel... right. And while yes, I would hate to hurt someone's feelings, I wouldn't do it intentionally.

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    1. Thanks Tonyalee! Neither of the books in these interactions were self-published. I did know that about self-pubbed books on NG and am more reluctant in requesting them now although I probably shouldn't be. It is fun to get to know authors for sure!!

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  10. I suppose I don't really have any rules. I go on a case-by-case basis. I do tag authors on Twitter if I give them 4 stars or up because I do think authors deserve to know when someone really enjoys their book, and I love when they retweet or reply and thank me. I have also had authors share my reviews even when I gave them 3.5 stars and didn't tag them. And since I've taken review copies directly from authors, I've had some interaction in that way. Plus I read a lot of self-pub/indie books, so some of the authors I read have followed me on Twitter, etc.

    The way I feel is, I appreciate knowing that they appreciate my review. However, I prefer not to have authors comment on my reviews of their books on my blog or GR (even the positive ones) simply because I never want my followers to feel uncomfortable commenting and expressing their opinions. And I wouldn't feel comfortable getting too friendly with an author whose books I review if they're still writing because then what if I don't like their future books? That would put me in a bad position since I'm not going to lie about a book. So either I'd have to write a negative review or decline to review it at all, but they'd still likely be upset. So interacting with authors really is a tricky gray area, and I do try to keep it to a minimum, though I don't mind being thanked in a tweet or an email.

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    1. Thanks Kristen! I do like knowing an author appreciated my review, especially for a book I loved but it's definitely a gray area and sometimes hard to navigate!!

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  11. What an interesting post!! I totally avoid author interaction. I used to tag authors on positive reviews when I started but stopped. I think if an author reached out like they did to you I would ignore it. I am so awkward with that stuff!!

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  12. I sometimes will tag authors in reviews, but its only when its a positive review at least a 4 star rating. I haven't ever received a negative comment from an author on any review I have written yet but I am sure it will eventually happen. I would say in the instance of this author "don't sweat the small stuff" because quite frankly a 3 star isnt BAD at all. Because I can see how frustrating that can feel getting a comment like that, but at the same time I wouldn't worry over it too much. Great post.

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    1. 3 stars isn't bad but somehow is perceived bad?! Thanks for commenting as always!!

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  13. Interesting! That is definitely a little odd that you would get comments from a 3.5 rated review, especially if you didn't tag anyone. It's definitely a hard situation to be in, I think. I've never got any negative feedback from authors, but I've had a few positive experiences. To those, I usually just say thanks for stopping by, haha. Not sure how I would handle the negative :O

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  14. I think you did just the right thing by ignoring the negative comment, but it would be fine to respond to the thank you. I usually just say something generic like, "I'm always happy to spread the word about great books!" (Of course, this wouldn't work if you weren't pleased with the book ...). Anyway, I don't think you need to change your policy (or even officially have one) - just do what feels natural and comfortable for you!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Thanks Nicole! Just curious how others handle this and it was timely since I just had another weird interaction right after posting this!

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  15. I would have ignored both the comment and the e-mail as well, Eva. Because both were unsolicited. And I do think it's kind of bad form for an author to disagree with your assessment - because each and every one of us bring our personal experiences with us when we read a book, and that's something that will always color our assessment.
    I don't really have any rules when it comes to interactions with authors. I have a few indie authors who will send me an e-mail before they release a new book, asking if I'll read and review it for them - and I always point out to them that I may not enjoy their new book as much as I've enjoyed their prior books, and that I will write a review no matter what!
    I tag authors with five star reviews, and sometimes they notice, and say thank you - which is nice - other times, there's nothing - which is fine, too!
    I have also answered specific twitter questions, for example about how something is said in French...
    Great post!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. Thanks Lexxie! I agree that it is different when the comment/email/interaction are totally unsolicited. It was just so unexpected to have the author comment about her characters as thought I wasn't allowed to think and write how I felt which was based on me (totally agree with you re: our own experiences!).

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  16. I don't have any real rules for my interactions with an author – outside of NOT tagging them on Twitter in a negative review. But that, honestly, I just feel like is good sense. It's one thing to not like a book and write an honest (and hopefully NOT mean) review about it. That's our right as readers and bloggers. But to shout your opinion in an author's face, which is pretty much what @ing someone in a tweet is, is rude as hell. I interact a lot with authors on Twitter and in real life and I've never felt the need to set any other kind of restrictions on how I do that. There's a way to be friendly (and even friends, honestly) with authors and talk with them like you would any other reader or blogger and NOT be an ass kisser. I @ authors in a lot of my reviews or promo posts and even photos on Instagram. Great topic!

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    1. Thanks Kim! Totally true that you can be friendly with an author and not skew your reviews!

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  17. Oy, such a tough topic! Okay so. I have had such a range of this I don't even know where to start! Brace yourself; a Shannon Novella Comment is on its way!

    Do I ever tag authors in reviews? Yes- but VERRRRY rarely. Like, maybe 3 times in all of blogging. And it was because the review was so glowing- and frankly, I wanted the authors to know how much their books impacted me. Now, I WILL tag authors in other posts- for example: I am participating in Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books Meet the Newbies event. And since the authors all contributed content and such, I tag them when the post goes live because frankly, they helped create it! Otherwise NO. No tagging.

    Now, the author contact. That's such a weird line, isn't it? I have had an author message me privately and tell me that she almost never reads reviews, and never EVER commented on one before, but someone had (assholishly) sent her a 1 star review of her book that was debuting THAT WEEK. And she was so, so sad. And panicked. And then she just kind of happened to scroll down (it was on Goodreads) and my 5 star review was there, and she said that she just had to reach out because it meant SO MUCH to her, and she needed me to know. So like... that was fine with me! I think ALL nice feedback is fine, tbh. Especially since she didn't like, critique my review- she just said that I made her happy, and offset her panic. And it made ME happy too!

    On the other side of the coin, I had an author comment on this post I did. It wasn't a review, and neither his name NOR the book's title were mentioned in the post title (my point being- this guy SEARCHED for himself and went blog hopping). It was a traditionally published book, albeit with a smaller pub, so it wasn't even like he had sent me the review copy or anything. Anyway, the point of the post was that I had set these 6 books aside (his being one) and I wasn't sure if I should continue, said why I had stopped, and had people vote. He left this HUGE comment about why I should, in fact, read his book. And why it was not nice to DNF. Now I am not reading his book for that alone!

    I am friendly with some authors- not a ton, but a couple. One sent me her book just as a gift- no review expected- which was super nice. Another has helped me with events, and I DID read and love her book (like, legitimately!) but I also didn't review it aside from a quick "I really liked this one!" and a star rating.

    Here's the thing for me: We will never be totally separate. I mean, think about bloggers you know who ARE becoming authors! I read (and loved!) Cait's book, and Allie (who was at Little Birdie Books) is being published like, soon! Now, I would not accept a review copy necessarily, and claim to be unbiased, but I also wouldn't NOT promote a friends' book, if that makes sense?

    As for the Twitter interactions... well, I think you can totally be friendly with authors in a "hey we chat on Twitter every so often" without it veering into "holy crap this person is my friend and I can't judge their book" zone. And I think it IS totally okay to end up BEING actual friends with an author- but that is also when you should probably step aside from doing a critical review on that book. There are other ways to promote! Even something like "I read and freaking loved this, and here's why" is fine- as long as you're not trying to pretend to be completely unbiased.

    My two cents, of course. Now that I have written ALL the words, I am off to find this review of yours with the ill-boundried author...

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  18. If I love a book, I will tag an author but if I don't, I won't. I've had an author find my blog because I recced his book and I ended up getting it off Netgalley, and getting an interview from him about it, go figure!

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  19. I (sometimes) tag authors in 5 star reviews and I'll chat with them on twitter sometimes, but that's pretty much the extent of my interaction, haha. I think one time YEARS ago an author asked me why I gave their book 3.5 stars/what I didn't like about it but I'm pretty sure I ignored the question because WHAT DO YOU EVEN SAY TO THAT?

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  20. Personally, I don't engage when an author comments on my review. Whether it's positive or negative, I just don't engage. Now, on Twitter, Instagram, etc.... I interact with them all the time. I had an author comment on a DNF review, but she wasn't mean or anything.

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  21. I don't have any rules, just generally try to be nice but I turn into such a fangirl when I interact with authors, mostly on Twitter/Facebook and Instagram and it's still too much for me to handle! I never tag authors on negative reviews even though I consider 3 stars to be positive, I'm not mean on my negative reviews mostly because I don't have a lot to say unless it pissed me off that much. Usually I have authors commenting on GR reviews which I guess it's easier for them to see but no one has actively commented on a bad review and on the blog it's usually a simple thank you or something similar, still makes me nervous and turns me into a fangirl - can't help it!

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    1. Nothing wrong with being a fangirl! Thanks for commenting!!

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  22. I do tag authors for any review above 3.5* (I don't post negative reviews on my site itself). So far I have been lucky and all my interactions have been positive. I think I would ignore the comment, but in the case of the email I might send back a quick thank you or you're welcome depending on what they said.

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  23. Really great topic, Eva. I guess I'm kind of middle of the road with author contact. I do sometimes tag an author on Twitter when I have a glowing review of their book. I would *never* tag them for a mediocre or negative review. I mean, who does that?! I've also tagged authors for special posts when I'm gushing about their book or series. And sometimes there is feedback. A like, a retweet or even a "thanks, so glad you liked it." I have zero issue with any of that. I also interact sometimes with authors on Twitter sometimes when they post something interesting or funny (although this is rather infrequent). The only time I feel it could be tricky is when authors have contacted me for reviews. This has only happened a handful of times but I have been very cautious each time about what I accept. If I think there's a possibility that I wouldn't like the book or would find it difficult to give an honest, unbiased review, I just politely decline. Knowing that the author would be checking for the review, I see no reason to accept when I am fairly certain it would be a lukewarm review, at best. Again, why do that? Thankfully, the few books I have accepted for review from direct author contact have been very positive experiences. I think I got a bit off-topic here (sorry) but overall I have no issue interacting with authors in a positive manner. I don't often seek out the contact but when it happens it's always been a positive experience for me.

    Tanya @ GIRL PLUS BOOKS

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  24. Eeeeek! I only interact with a few authors and I've "known" them for years upon years. They would never call out a review or any nonsense like that. Don't engage, is my advice. It'll lead you down a road that could end up poorly. Kimba at Caffeinated Reviewer has had bad experiences with authors but that's her story. Just don't engage and you'll be fine. It happens to all of us a time or two. No worries! It's your opinion, don't let anyone change it! :)

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