Like, I would presume, many book bloggers, I often come across interesting blogs written by authors. Some of them are authors whose books I’ve read or plan to read, others are authors whose books I’d not heard of before. In the case of authors whose work I know, the posts might resonate with me because they are on subjects I’m well-versed in, and in the case of unknown authors a well-written interesting post could gain my attention. Further reading of the blog could lead to me reading their book.
Sometimes I feel the urge to respond, to comment, just as I do when reading the blogs of book bloggers. And while I tend to have no qualms responding to a post by an author I’m not familiar with (because I’m more anonymous), I tend to pause before commenting otherwise – this pause tends to lead to me closing the browser window without replying. I wonder if there is a certain unspoken etiquette in regards to conversing with an author in such a way. It was this thought that inspired me to write this post today.
Should book bloggers be refraining from interacting on author blogs, or is it to be encouraged?
It is natural that at times we are going to want to join in a conversation, as already discussed – author posts often resonate with us. Authors are bound to write on topics we can relate to because we are two groups of people existing in the same world, the same industry. And we know that authors often pick up on subjects book bloggers have talked about, and put their own spin on it from their angle, adding to the conversation.
Is commenting acceptable or is it a line not to be crossed? In general the target audience of an author blog is other authors, you can deduce this from the style of the post and of course sometimes from the subject. However our place as book bloggers is still blurry. We often get noticed if we review an author’s book – is commenting okay if we’ve given the author a glowing review? What would happen if we later gave them a negative one, would our place on their blog cease to be appropriate?
As for myself I would not comment on the blog of an author whose work I had reviewed negatively. It’s not nice or necessary to further circulate the criticism, which replying on their blog would inevitably do. Whilst I may be reviewing the book rather than the author, commenting on a blog in this case would create needless tension.
But to go back a couple of paragraphs, what do you do when an author you previously loved the work of published what you believed was a bad book? Would you silently slip away from their blog? That would seem the polite thing to do, but then it detracts from the fact that you found their backlist fantastic. It places all the emphasis on the negative review rather than celebrating the positive ones. But could you continue to comment knowing you’d written a critical review, wouldn’t you feel guilty? There is always the option of not reviewing a book you didn’t like, but surely that is bordering on being untruthful – and if we constantly did that we’d end up not only producing hero-worship on a daily basis but also in reducing the amount of authors we could review the work of. Is it okay to comment if you’ve only ever given the author positive reviews and it’s highly unlikely they’ll produce a bad book?
There is the question of friendship. From what I’ve gleaned it seems to be acceptable to comment on the blogs of authors who are the book blogger’s friends. This makes sense. But a friendship leads to the suggestion that one cannot really review the books produced by a friend and so surely this would not cause issues. People who do nevertheless review their friend’s books are often scrutinised over their opinions for the duration of that review.
The last question to consider – does commenting look like self-promotion? If you’re responding to an author you’ve never read could your presence come across as a request for free books? Similarly, if it’s a newly discovered author whose book you’ve just reviewed would it look like you were really saying, “I’m over here and given you a good rating, please promote my book blog?”
Does commenting with the URL (web address) to a book blog suggest you’re trying to get the author’s audience to take notice of you? If you’re the sole book blogger amongst a sea of author comments does it look out of place? Does it appear as though you’re trying to drum up interest for people to contact you with requests?
For me the jury’s out. I like to comment on author blogs but I generally feel bad for doing so. I do it to join the discussion, to connect with like-minded people, just as I do in commenting on my fellow book bloggers’ blogs. I don’t know the answer.
What do you think, should book bloggers feel eligible to respond on the posts of an author?
July 9, 2012, 3:00 am
As for your last question – no, I don’t think it looks like self promotion unless you link to a post or repeatedly ask for someone to visit.
BUT – you ask several questions I think about often. I’m really uncomfortable with author/blogger interaction (my own). I do interact with several authors on Twitter, but mostly these are authors whose books aren’t really my interests or I just really like their online personality and can’t help myself (Rainbow Rowell).
For the most part, I like to keep those lines really clean. I try to be extremely professional in terms of my reviews, and I think that once those lines start to break down, that isn’t really possible anymore. I don’t visit author blogs with the exception of Rainbow Rowell and Matthew Norman – again, because they are both really funny and have worthwhile blogs on their own. Mostly, though, the author blogs I’ve seen have been either very one track or just not all that interesting.
Anyway, that’s a much longer answer than you’re likely looking for, but it’s a topic I know people feel strongly about, and I also know plenty of people who really value and enjoy the contact with authors. I think that’s fine and honestly, in this changing world of books and publishing and social media, I think lines will have to be drawn individually unless something more standards comes to light.
July 11, 2012, 12:36 pm
I think this is a very difficult subject and I don’t think most bloggers think about it enough. I try to limit my contact with authors and it rarely goes beyond a few tweets about a random subject, but in the few cases this has happened (mainly because I loved a certain the book and the author has then developed the relationship further) it has become uncomfortable. I have gone on to find their next book average/not very good and the author probably finds that a bit shocking. They tend to think that we’re loyal fans who will love anything they produce and I’m afraid that isn’t the case. I think it is best for bloggers to remain as impartial as possible and try not to develop relationships with authors, but anyone who has connected with an author should mention it in their review. Commenting on author blogs is a tricky one. I tend not to do it, but I’d love to hear the author’s perspective. Thanks for raising this important subject!