Friday, April 28, 2017

Reviewers and Authors: Too Close for Comfort?

At the recent NECRWA conference, RedHeadedGirl, a reviewer from the blog Smart Bitches Trashy Books, gave a workshop on "Reviews: How to Get Them and How to Handle Them." In addition to giving smart advice to authors on both of the above issues, ReadHeaded Girl said something that gave me, wearing my blogger/reviewer hat, pause. I didn't write down her exact words, but it was something along the lines of "I don't think reviewers should let authors know when they've written a review of their work. Reviewers shouldn't have contact with authors at all. Reviews are for readers, not for writers."

RedHeaded Girl's statement gave me pause because I always send out a Tweet to authors, or tag them on Facebook, when I feature one of their books on the RNFF blog. As an author myself, I know I always want to hear when a blogger has reviewed my work, and have always appreciated a quick email or a Tweet or Facebook tag letting me know. As a blogger, I know that authors are encouraged not to join in any conversations, or add any comments, to a blog post about them or about their books, but sometimes an author will tweet me back a simple "thank you," which I always appreciate. And sometimes an author will write me a few more lines, commenting about an issue I've brought up in the review, offering book recommendations, or just expressing appreciation for the serious attention I try to pay to each book I feature on the blog. I've always considered author responses part of my reward for writing a blog for which I do not get paid, and from which I earn no affiliate monies.

But RedHeaded Girl's comments made me wonder about best practices, or perhaps about best ethical practices, when it comes to communications between authors and reviewers. So I'm asking you, my readers, what you think.
If you're a reader, does it bother you that a reviewer informs a writer that she's written about one of her/his books? Do you feel that communication between author and reviewer should be one-way? If reviewers email/tweet/Facebook authors about their blogs, are they crossing an important line between professional writer and fawning fangirl?

If you're an author, do you appreciate receiving a heads-up when your work is reviewed on a blog? Do you feel duty-bound to offer a thank-you when you receive such a heads-up? Is that duty annoying? Onerous? Ethically problematic for you?


Photo/illustration credits:
Book review meme: William Cook
People Who Review for Authors: Nadine Brandes

33 comments:

  1. I never notify an author of a review or a blog mention, even if it’s 100% positive. Some of them find my comments on their own, however.

    I’ve read (and experienced) that when an author leaves a “thank you” under a review somewhere like Goodreads it totally silences discussion and makes readers feel as if Big Brother is watching.

    On the other hand, I don’t see anything wrong with tweeting a “thank you”.

    Having just read about a Regency romance author who specifically requested her books NOT be made available to a particular (well-known and 100% fair) reviewer, I am definitely on the side of a big separation between readers and writers when it comes to reviews.
    It certainly makes talking to people at conferences easier! :)

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    1. Hi, Sonya:

      Thanks for sharing your own reviewing practices. Do you have a clear reason why you don't notify an author when you review a title?

      Interesting story, that one about a Regency romance author who requested that her books not be sent to a particular reviewer. Where did you hear it?

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  2. I appreciate the tweets/messages I get when one of my books is mentioned and I deliberately respond with at least "Thanks!" before I even look at the review. In my mind I'm not thanking the reviewer for what she's said, I'm thanking her for the favour of notifying me (because Google Alerts can only do so much!). And I also re-tweet any tweets mentioning the review that I notice, which feels like me doing a favour to the blogger in return? Again, though, that's not based on the content of the reviews. (I don't think I've ever gotten a truly soul-crushing, Kate-needs-to-stop-writing-and-step-away-from-the-keyboard-forever review... not sure I'd retweet a mention of THAT...)

    I don't respond to reviews, even totally favourable ones, even if I just want to add to the conversation (like, "another book that does this" or "I really like what you said about"...) because I did it a couple times early in my career and noticed, as Sonya said, that the conversation died immediately after I engaged.

    I can see the temptation to draw a firm line between bloggers and writers, but there are so many individual people who cross over that line that it feels like we'd be pretending to a "purity" that can't exist. And as we've seen in past controversies, it tends to be the pretending part that gets authors/bloggers in trouble...

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    1. Kate:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts as an author on the author/reviewer relationship. I know I appreciate it when an author re-tweets a tweet notifying her/him of a review; it's a great way to get new readers who may not be familiar with RNFF.

      Some people have only one role in romance. But others occupy multiple identities (like me). I try to let people know that I both write romance and review romance, but unless they know me, or happen to see a post in which my dual identity is mentioned, any individual reader may not be aware of that identity. The purity issue is a difficult one for anyone who wears multiple hats in the romance world, I agree.

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  3. I don't write reviews, but I do write about romances, so maybe my situation's a bit different but

    1) I'd tend to assume that if an author wants to find reviews of their books, they'll have a Google Alert set up so that they can do that so

    2) I wouldn't generally contact an author just to let them know I'd written about their book because (a) see above re not all authors wanting to know about/read reviews and (b) that would put them under pressure to respond. Everyone's busy so I wouldn't want to take up their time unnecessarily. However,

    3) I might contact an author if I was writing about their book and wanted some information prior to publication which I couldn't get any other way (and then, of course, if they wanted to be kept informed of the final version, I'd let them know about that). And finally

    4) I might contact an author if I already had a relationship (don't want to call it "friendship" as that would usually be overstating things) with them on Twitter and knew they were the kind of author who likes to tweet about their reviews.

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    1. Laura:
      Interesting to think about this from a scholarly viewpoint. I write academic articles about children's literature, and I certainly didn't Tweet to J.K. Rowling when I published an article about race and Harry Potter, or to Stephenie Meyer when I published an article about readerly desire in the TWILIGHT books. Your post made me ask myself why?

      Perhaps because academic criticism has a different purpose than reviewing? Academics are meant to call attention to problematic aspects of a text, to delve deep into the ideological underpinnings, as well as to argue about a book's worth. My romance book reviews do this, too, but they tend to focus more on a reader's experience, and on the positive aspects of a particular book.

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  4. As an author, I'd appreciate getting a heads-up. In particular, the reviews here present a POV which helps raise consciousness about issues. For example, the problematic use of the word "douche" as an insult was something I'd never considered before, and a word I've used a lot in my NA books. So, even a bad review that had constructive value would be helpful to read. But getting notified about a bad review from a purely personal perspective would be a lot less fun.

    Frankly, there are as many different types of reviewers as there are authors, so everyone should feel free to adapt their own best practices.

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    1. Melanie:
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts as an author on the author/reviewer relationship. I, too, when wearing my author hat, appreciate getting a heads-up when one of my books is reviewed. Reading bad reviews, or not entirely complimentary ones, is definitely hard, but I like to know what's being said about my work.

      I like your idea that there are many different types of reviewers, and that different reviewers can/should establish practices that work best for them.

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  5. I have seen in the old days of romancelandia, when comment chains could reach the 100s how an author chiming in would not just cut short discussion but change it's tone. At that point discussion of the book would often become fangirling of the author in part because readers no longer felt free to continue the discussion and so what was left was niceness. This was so even when an author wasn't trying to tell readers how to read their books.

    The 'reviews are for readers' mantra came out the stoushes that arose when readers pushed back on being told how to read and that their role was to be street team only. A lot of authors implied that critique if it was to be permitted, was to aim at improving the author's writing, as if the review was a form of beta-reading. Reader's experience of the book wasn't seen as having any value. You could dive into the archives of Dear Author and SBTB to see some of that.

    It's interesting to see your perspective on informing an author of your review. I have seen author's clearly say don't tell them about a 'negative'/'bad' review. It just drags them down. I put negative and bad in italics because they are fraught terms. From whose perspective is a review bad? The authors who push a reviewer to change their 3 stars to 4 or 5 (as happens with too much regularity) has a view of bad that doesn't equal that of the reader/reviewer. As a reader of reviews, I look for people with similar taste in books and concerns. Reading their reviews over time means I build a trust in them. So I know what those 3 stars mean and value them.

    I think the online space of authors, readers, bloggers and reviewers is very muddy. We all start as readers so seeing really clear hard lines between us all isn't going to happen. In my head we are Venn circles with overlapping areas of interest. A book world Venn model also suggests that the larger part of our reader/author interests doesn't overlap. The mistake is that we think that being in the same space means we have the same needs and wants.

    Validation for the often hard and lonely work of a book blogger/reviewer is important and maybe the question is about how you get that and why you need it? My reader response to you feeling chuffed at an author thanking you is to wonder who you're working for? There is that sense of favours being done out of sight. I've been reading your blog since it began and that isn't a specific comment about you but a reflection from 10 years of reading blogs and twitter and Facebook, the ebb and flow of kerfuffles, and my stab and understanding them.

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    1. Hi, Merrian:

      Thanks for putting some of the debates about authors and reviewers and readers into historical context for us. You give me, and other RNFF readers, a lot of food for thought.

      That's a bummer, that some authors tried to police their readers' reviews. That strikes me as really misguided, particularly in online spaces like Goodreads, and on amazon, and on blogs that specifically say they giving a reader's perspective. Also a bummer to hear that some authors push reviewers to increase the number of stars they give a book. Yes, this is a business for authors, but readers have a right to their own opinions, and to express them without fearing that an author will bully them in response.

      Whether a review is "bad" is definitely in the eyes of the beholder, isn't it? I, too, try to find reviewers whose tastes I share, and to follow their reviews for a while before assuming that I'm always going to agree with them. And knowing what they mean by a 3-star vs. a 4-star vs. a 5-star review is definitely part of that.

      Why do I need validation? I have some personal reasons, for sure, that make me particularly greedy for words of praise. But I think all writers, perhaps all human beings, want validation to one degree or another.

      How to get it? By interacting with commenters on the blog, for sure. And by helping readers finds new books and new authors that they can feel comfortable reading, knowing that by and large the books I recommend are not going to hit them over them head with sexist stuff. And by hoping that my words have an impact on the genre in some small ways. And by having the occasional author drop me a note to say that I've done a good job. It's all part of the validation.

      So I guess I'd say I'm working for myself, for readers, and for authors, probably in that order.

      What favors are you thinking might be happening out of sight?

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    2. Books for reviews - a lot of ARCs seem to be distributed for a 'good review' and we do hear of bloggers not getting NetGalley access if their reviews are not glowing enough. Swapping good reviews for each others books. But it's also about tone I think. I stopped reading Dear Author a long time ago before Jane came out as an author. My reason was that (too me) the tone of DA shifted as it became closer to the publishing industry and I felt like I was eyes being delivered up to the marketers.

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    3. I hadn't heard that, Merrian, bloggers not being granted access to a title if their reviews weren't glowing enough. That stinks.

      I've never been asked to swap reviews (perhaps because people who read my Goodreads posts know I don't shy away from saying when I don't like a book!). But I do recall this issue coming up in the past, about authors recommending books without telling their readers that they were friends with the writer whose book they were recommending. Another boundary issue...

      Interesting that you noticed a shift in the tone of Dear Author over time, and link that to the site becoming closer to the publishing industry. Are reviews disinterested reviews, or are they marketing tools, influenced by the access traditional publishers grant (or do not grant) reviewers? And is that question easier or harder to answer depending on the size and influence of the blog?

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  6. I review occasionally, as a guest blogger on a couple of blogs, and on GoodReads. There are a couple of authors who regularly send me ARCs to review, and I've also won a number of books in competitions directly from the author. When I'm reviewing one of those books, I feel as though the polite thing to do is send an email back to the author in question letting them know the review is up, because we are already in (limited) correspondence. When I'm reviewing a book where I don't know the author, I don't contact them. Though I suspect if I fell madly in love with their book, I might.

    Having said that... I have a lengthy review that has been sitting on my computer for a couple of years now, for a book that an author sent me as a prize in a competition, and which I disliked intensely. It was a romance novel, and I felt that the relationship depicted was toxic, that the friends involved were enabling something that had the potential to get quite abusive, and my review said as much. And I've never been able to bring myself to send this review to any of the blogs I review for, because it seems like a poor thanks to the author for sending me her book. Which is an uncomfortable thing, because if I didn't feel that sense of obligation to the author, I'd want to post that review to warn people away from the book...

    Having said that, the very first book that one of my very favourite authors sent me as an ARC I absolutely hated – it pressed a whole lot of my buttons in a whole selection of different locations, but I could actually see that it was probably a good book, just not one I was ever going to be able to re-read. And so I wrote about how much the book distressed me and why, and also about why I thought it was very well-written and I just couldn't get enough distance from it to judge it fairly, and then wrote a rather apologetic email to the author about this. (Fortunately, she appreciated the review anyway!)

    So I do think the reviewer/author relationship is fraught in certain ways, and there are definitely conflicts. Perhaps the more so, because reading can be a very personal thing, so you have that weird personal/professional conflict going on. And there is a certain amount of 'if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all' dynamic, if you have any sort of relationship with the author.

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    1. Catherine Heloise:

      Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts, and explaining your own practices as a reviewer. I don't notify authors when I review their book on Goodreads, but I do notify them when I blog about them. Your comment is making me try to articulate why.

      I think it's because the two platforms feel like they have different purposes to me. Goodreads is more where I put my thoughts for myself, where I log my own overall reading, and where I interact with a handful of personal friends and book acquaintances. Whereas RNFF is where I (hopefully!) reach out to a larger audience. Perhaps this is a false boundary to draw, but that's how I seem them in my mind.

      That "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" dynamic is definitely an issue in the romance world. In part because of gender issues (nice girls are not supposed to say mean things), and in part because there's a linkage between what a person writes and who that person is, if a writer considers her writing anything close to art, rather than just a product. If you criticize a book, it can be seen as attacking the person who wrote it by many. Since I have a background in academic literary criticism, I don't share that view, but I know it is one many readers and authors hold. So yes, definitely a "fraught" relationship!

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    2. That IS an interesting distinction... I review just about every book I read at Goodreads, but you're right, I've never even thought about notifying the authors. And I don't really think of myself as a reviewer just because I jot my thoughts down at GR.

      I agree with your distinction that GR is mostly for my own use. I want to keep track of what I've read and my thoughts on it. But I'm aware that other people read what I say there, or at least that they might. Hmmm...

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  7. Red Headed Girl is 100% right. Reviews are for readers. Tagging an author on a Twitter (or elsewhere) is either self-aggrandising or unnecessarily upsetting, depending on how favourable the review is - both are poor etiquette IMO.

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    1. Sorry, other posters may know this, but I don't...

      Are you offering this opinion/ruling as a writer, a reader, a blogger...?

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    2. Kaetrin reviews at Dear Author and at AudioGals, FYI.

      I wonder if the audience for the blog one reviews for makes a difference? Dear Author and Audio Gals are large commercial ventures, with large audiences. Smaller blogs such as RNFF have much smaller audiences. So what Kaetrin sees as "self-aggrandising or unnecessarily upsetting" might be true for a big blog, but not for a smaller one?

      It might also have to do with the issue of money? Blogs like Dear Author pay their reviewers, right? (one form of validation). And their sites include advertising. RNFF does neither. So perhaps the validation Kaetrin gets from getting paid works for her, whereas since I've chosen not to earn income through this blog, I'm a little needier in my desire for validation?

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    3. And don't blogs like Dear Author take advertising money from publishers and authors? Maybe I'm too financially motivated, but if I were going to start worrying about inappropriate relationships between reviewers and authors, I'd start worrying about the money before I worried about a re-tweet...

      But of course I believe that bloggers have the right to monetize their writing, if that's their goal and their plan.

      If it's another bloggers goal/plan to build a readership or, sure, get validation? That blogger will probably approach things differently. Makes sense to me!

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  8. Okay, to clarify some of the things you've both made assumptions about.
    I review at Dear Author, AudioGals and at my own blog Kaetrin's Musings. I consider myself a reader and blogger. I am not an author.
    My personal blog is very small. The audience at Dear Author and AudioGals is, I believe, much larger but I don't have administrative access to either so I don't know how many visitors they actually get. AudioGals has never had paid ads. Dear Author stopped having ads years ago. (Not that there is anything at all improper about accepting payment for ads.) Both sites run on affiliate links to keep the blogs going and/or the blog owner pays to keep the site running (that is the case with DA.) I use affiliate links but don't earn enough from it to run my own blog. I run that out of my own pocket. I receive $ from affiliate links from my reviews at Dear Author and, not that it is relevant, I use that money, which is not going to get me early retirement, to buy books. I blog at AudioGals for free, because I love it. I'd blog at DA and my own blog for free too if it came to that. So you're incorrect in suggesting I blog to make money. (Though there are those who do and more power to them.)
    None of that has any bearing on my point though you both seem to think it should. Reviews are for readers. They're not for authors. Reviewers don't serve as some kind of beta reader/crit group for an author. I love authors but my reviews are not *for* them. They are for readers. If an author receives a benefit (e.g. good publicity perhaps) from one of my reviews, great - but that is a happy coincidence. It is not why I did it.
    My reviewer validation comes from helping a reader find a book that works for them (as a blogger, there is no better feeling I think, for me at least) and from talking about books with other readers generally. Seeking cookies from an author because I reviewed their book seems to me an entirely different thing - and that's the only reason to tag an author in a (positive) review - to get cookies. Tagging an author in a negative review is just rude.
    The fact is, one person's good review is another's bad review. You might consider your review to be very positive but there may be a criticism in there which cuts close to the bone for an author. You don't know for sure, unless your review is 100% glowing, an author won't have that reaction to your review. Tagging the author is, effectively, rubbing their face in it. Authors will find reviews of their work if they want to. Many authors choose not to look at all. If that is what they want, let them.
    Online spaces are shared spaces. Not tagging authors in reviews is part of keeping some separation (even though it may be largely metaphorical) in those spaces.

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    1. Apologies for any assumptions - they were made with good intentions.

      But I feel like this conversation is getting pretty aggressive, so out of courtesy to Jackie, who probably doesn't want a brawl in her comments section, I'll bow out.

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    2. I'm not interested in brawling with anyone. I wanted to set the record straight.

      FWIW, the statement about cookies is a lesson I learned myself early in my blogging career (and when I was only blogging at my small personal blog). I used to @ authors if the grade was a B or above. But then a blogger friend gave me some good advice and I realised the only reason I was @ing authors was for cookie-attainment. That wasn't a good reason so I stopped.

      Jackie asked a question - I assume she wanted an honest answer and that's what I gave.

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    3. Apologies, Kaetrin, for asserting that Audio Gals and Dear Author accept advertising income. I clearly had SmartBitches/TrashyBooks in mind, and did not doublecheck the two sites you review for (in addition to your personal blog).

      And yes, I did ask a question, and appreciate the honesty of your answers, and the thinking they are leading me to do.

      Merrian (above) mentions that in the recent past, the assertion that "reviews are for readers" was linked to the problem of authors trying to tell readers what their reviews should be. Is that history in your mind when you say that reviews should only be for readers?

      I have no problem with the idea myself that my reviews might function as critiques of an author's work, critiques that give that author not a beta-read, but food for thought when writing future books (or that might prove food for thought for other authors). No reviewer should be FORCED to write a review with this purpose in mind, but if a reviewer WANTS to write with such a purpose in mind, I don't see that as a problem. DEAR AUTHOR clearly says "FOR readers, BY readers" at the top of its home page, which makes the blog's purpose clear, especially in light of the past history Merrian references. RNFF's tagline also mentions readers ("for readers who like a little equality with their love"), but I envision "authors" as a potential subset of that larger group, "readers."

      Your ideas are also making me think more about feelings. You write that it is wrong for a reviewer to want "cookies" (a loaded term for me, because of its current use in discussions about race and white allies, but that's a whole 'nother conversation). But you also say that it's wrong for reviewers to hurt authors' feelings. When I think about these two beliefs, I wonder: What kind of feelings are ok to have, and what kind of feelings are not? Or what kinds of feelings are ok to inspire in others, and what kinds are not? It's wrong to make other people (authors) potentially feel bad (even if some authors might end up feeling good). And its wrong to admit that you as a reviewer desire something similar from an author that you want from a fellow reader--fellowship over shared interests.

      Why is it ok to be chuffed by interactions with readers/blog commenters, but not by interactions with authors?

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    4. I'm not saying that it's not okay to be chuffed by an author liking a review or finding a particular comment insightful. That's not the point at all.

      But I think that tagging an author forces a level of contact they may not wish to have. Perhaps an author will seek out reviews of their work. Perhaps they will come here and find something you say useful and it may even change how they think about something and contribute to how they produce future books. But isn't that choice - to seek out reviews or not to seek out reviews, up to them?

      I suppose you might say that tagging an author doesn't mean that an author has to follow the link but I've seen plenty of authors say that they do not want to be tagged. They find it difficult to resist the temptation to click. Or, they assume, if they are tagged the review is favourable and when they do click, they find that is not necessarily the case. Remember too, I said above that the reviewer may consider their review to be positive but the author may perceive the review very differently.

      There are plenty of authors who also loudly proclaim "reviews are for readers". It is not just readers and bloggers who say this.

      For readers/bloggers as well as authors, I think it's about preserving the virtual separation of the shared internet spaces.

      An author commenting on a review of their book definitely chills speech at best. If a reviewer wishes to foster critical comments, an author commenting will almost certainly shut that down. If there are further comments they will likely be of the "squee" kind (not inherently bad - but in a blog like this, is that what you want? Or do you want readers to engage critically with the text?). And that is the best case scenario. In worst case, a badly behaving author could come to your reviewing space and start a flame war and invite her (or his) fans to attack. That's not fun. Not tagging authors makes it a little less likely that kind of thing will happen.

      With the greatest respect Jackie, you may have the most insightful thing to say about an author's work, but what makes you so sure the author actually wants to hear it? If they do not, is it not rude to bring it to their attention?

      Authors are people too and they have feelings. I want authors to allow readers to engage in robust discussion about books without interference from them and the courtesy I do them in return is to respect their right to not read any or all reviews of their books.

      Speaking only for myself, I don't say anything in reviews that I would not be prepared to say to the author directly (*if they asked me to*) but at the same time I don't assume the mere existence of my review means they want to read it.

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  9. I am what I call a professional reader. I am contacted by publishers to read and review books. I have never considered contacting an author to let them know I have reviewed their book. I often lean towards the positive in my reviews, trying to remain a bit detached so my reviews are kind but it would make my job more difficult if I had to deal with authors directly. However, I do keep in contact with the publishing companies. They track the reviews and the books. They are, also, the ones that contact me to review. I like that separation because I am not disappointing the author when I refuse the book for review or write a not so great review.

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    1. Thanks, Sara, for sharing your thoughts and working practices. Another angle I didn't think about—where do you get the books you review? I get some books that I review from NetGalley, which are usually from publishers; I get books directly from authors, who contact me via the blog; I purchase a lot of books myself; and I also take out books from the library.

      When you write "it would make my job more difficult if I had to deal with authors directly," I'm wondering, in what ways do you think it would be more difficult?

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    2. I have a review policy on my blog. It clearly states that I won't send a link to the review to the author unless they request one to be sent because reviews are for readers. I also warn that I don't guarantee a favourable review (or a review at all in fact). It is then up to the author, to decide what they want. But they can't say they weren't warned if they request a link and don't like what they find at the end of it.

      My review policy also states where I get my books. (For the most part, books I review for AudioGals or Dear Author are review copies provided by the publisher or author. On my own blog I mostly review books I have bought myself these days.)

      Sara can answer your last question for herself of course, but were you to ask that of me, I'd say that it is confronting to tell someone that you don't like their work. I had the experience recently where I hated the book so much I wanted to set it on fire. I couldn't finish it. I was dealing with the agent. I was certainly much happier dealing with her than the authors. It's easy when you love the book. When you don't? That's harder. And some authors don't react well to criticism. Many a blogger has been on the receiving end of a lot of grief from authors about a "bad" review. I saw one on Goodreads only last week where the author (and I am not even joking) paid an occultist to put a hex on the reviewer unless he took his review down!

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    3. I get many books from NetGalley but I am also contacted by a series of publishers directly. Some I signed up for the review lists while others found me through NetGalley. I have used other review sites similar to NetGalley but have since dropped them - mostly because I was getting a lot of self-published books and was being contacted by random authors. I am, also, a part of a very large writing community and review books by fellow authors (but I am very selective and careful with those choices).
      The reason it is difficult for me to deal with authors is because I get it - this is their baby. I would hate to tell them they have an ugly child. And I've had a lot of bad experiences dealing with authors. Most of these experiences come from authors who self publish before the books are truly ready. If I am dealing with the publisher then I don't feel obligated to love the book. Like I said, I try to always spin the positive because that is the sort of book review I'd like but sometimes a book is bad and it's hard to tell someone that to their "face".

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  10. I'm another reviewer who prefers not to involve the author. I assume if they want to see reviews, they'll find them. If I do provide constructive criticism, it's probably accidental. ;-)

    It seems rude to me to tag authors on twitter (or, I guess, Facebook) because it's a shared space. I won't hold back on my blog (or other places I once reviewed) because that's a reader's space. I feel a responsibility to other readers, and my writing is no fun for me if it's not honest. But twitter is for everyone. No author needs me forcing my opinion upon them.

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    1. Coincidentally, I just read a tweet by an author who said she was @'d with a positive review that had a bad sting in it, and it's the sort of thing that really erodes her confidence. I'm pretty thin-skinned myself, so I sympathize with her. Some authors can take reading their reviews, some can't. As long as they don't bitch in public or send hordes of fans after someone -- and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the author publicizing this event -- I think they have a right to not have criticism thrust upon them.

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  11. I have previously contacted authors when I gave positive reviews, kind of as a long "thank you note" for their book. I stopped publicly reviewing altogether because I worried I would either seem to play favorites when I reviewed writers I knew, or would get a tantrum or worse in my mentions if I gave an unfavorable review.

    I've noticed a lot of tantrums, threats, and dog piles when some authors get bad reviews. I follow a lot of reviewers who analyze books based on representation of their culture. Frequently their critiques are met with clamoring​ fans of the author saying "you can't censor the author! You can't say (privileged) people can never write about (marginalized) people!" These reactions have driven some bloggers offline, and at least one to a mental health crisis.

    However, another commenter who is an author mentioned Google Alerts. So authors and their fans, for good or ill, may still find their way to your blog.

    Anyway, all this to say, keep contacting authors if the interactions you get are worth it. If a storm kicks up, it's not your fault, just know it's possible.

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  12. I'm a reviewer of primarily Australian science fiction and fantasy. I'm also a writer and therefore involved in the scene. It is tiny; everyone knows everyone. It means I frequently end up reviewing material by people I know. Which makes it tough when I have to write a less-than-glowing review of something.

    I don't tag authors when I review their work. However, I will email them a link if they've directly asked me for a review and provided an ARC. I find anything other than a 'thank you' makes me feel uncomfortable.

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