Discussion: Interacting with Authors

Posted June 18, 2018 by Nicky in General / 4 Comments

So today’s discussion post is something that used to come up all the time when I was on Goodreads, and has happened a couple of times here: interacting with authors. On Goodreads it was nearly always a bad experience, though Tony Hays (author of Arthurian mysteries) was great and a couple of others too, plus of course authors who just wanted to offer me a copy of their books to review. But quite often the author would come by to argue with my rating.

There’s always exceptions, so it’s hard to come up with simple rules. But here’s a couple I think authors could stick to:

  • Don’t react to reviews unless people have indicated they’re willing to discuss them with you.
  • Don’t spam people with offers of copies to review.
  • Don’t spam people with anything.
  • Don’t make everything about your book — other interactions may not seem like they’re directly gonna sell your book, but I’m more likely to buy your book if I’ve had meaningful interactions with you. Even if that’s about other books. Maybe especially if that’s about other books.
  • Remember that nobody owes you interaction, nobody owes you an explanation, nobody owes you their time.

Buuut sometimes I think reviews could use some rules in reply. Mostly I think they’re common sense, but then someone always comes along and ruins my idealistic dreams. So hey:

  • Don’t beg for freebies.
  • Don’t draw the author’s attention to a review unless they’ve indicated they’re interested in reading reviews of their work.
  • Remember there’s a difference between the author’s voice and their character’s voice and even, depending on the narratorial choices they’ve made, their real opinions.
  • Don’t, for goodness’ sake, proudly announce that you’ve pirated the author’s book. There are some authors who don’t mind this much (Cory Doctorow) or have found that their books sold better after one was available free (Neil Gaiman). But for the most part, you’re telling them that they’ve lost revenue. Even if it wasn’t illegal (it is), then telling people you’ve pirated is just poor taste.
  • Review the book, not the author. (It’s fair not to read something because the author is a raging homophobe, but then you don’t need to review the book, because even doing that is getting them oxygen to keep on raging to an audience.) Sometimes biographical details can be important in understanding a book, and sometimes you’re just making douchy assumptions or being a bully.

…Not that this is an exhaustive list (either of them, actually), but these are some of my pet hates.

How about you?

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4 responses to “Discussion: Interacting with Authors

  1. Yeah good post! I get jumpy when I see the name of an author in my inbox just after I gave them a 2 star review but I haven’t had a bad experience with that yet! Most are nice and just wanted to thank me and indicate they would consider what I said. I do get a lot of authors asking me to review their book when it is clear I don’t read that genre-that bugs the hell out of me! I really do find it rude when I say I don’t read romance then I get followed by ten romance authors plugging their book!

    • I’ve had a couple on here, but it was mostly non-fiction authors! I think maybe they’re not as hooked into book blogging as fiction authors, and so don’t realise it’s not like academia where you can and should challenge stuff you disagree with.

  2. I’ve had a bunch of interactions with authors over the years, thankfully all positive. A couple have even responded to less than stellar reviews, but mostly with thank you messages, and one or two have even agreed with me on some of my critiques. In general, as long as the author is respectful when reaching out, I really don’t mind, but definitely a good rule of thumb is Do Not Argue! A reviewer’s opinion is personal and we shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable or afraid to express our thoughts about a book.

    And I totally agree with your last point about reviewing the book, not the author. I have nothing against people choosing not to read a book because of how they feel about an author’s views, but personally I like to separate the art from the artist. 😀
    Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum recently posted…Book Review: Providence by Caroline KepnesMy Profile

    • I’ve had some very good ones… but Goodreads was particularly bad for it, I think. I try and steer clear of authors on there because whoooa.

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