July 01, 2013

Book Blogger Confessions: Author Interactions Edition

Book Blogger Confessions is a meme that posts the 1st Monday of every month, where book bloggers "confess" and vent about blogging-related topics. This meme is hosted by Midnyte Reader and For What It's Worth. So click on the link(s), grab the logo and jump right in! Let's get to know each other a little better :).


July 1 Question: Author interactions. Have you ever emailed an author to tell them you loved/disliked their book? As a book reviewer, do you think we should cross that line?
Do you mind when authors re-tweet or comment on reviews? Does that intimidate you in any way in regards to review writing, knowing that they may be reading it?
Do author interactions - both pro or con - change how you view their work?

I don't have a lot of experience in this field, since I've only interacted with two authors so far (if you don't count a couple of comments I left on blogs). One of them was B.C. Johnson, author of Deadgirl. As a matter of fact, I contacted him on Goodreads because I was about to review his book, when I found out it was out of print (due to the publisher shutting up shop) - so I wanted to know if there was any chance it would get a reprint somewhere else. He replied in a friendly manner, which was probably to expect, since I had read and liked his book and was even willing to review it ;). Anyway, Mr. Johnson told me he was in the process of negotiating a new book deal - besides writing a sequel for Deadgirl - but he didn't have any concrete information yet. So he basically said it was up to me to decide if reviewing the book at that stage or not. I bounced a couple of ideas off him, and we agreed about me reviewing/promoting the future Deadgirl reprint and sequel the way you can see here and here. I had been honest from the start about my lack of power as a reviewer (see: small trail of followers, no Facebook or Twitter or G+ accounts), but Mr. Johnson sounded genuinely happy about my interest in Deadgirl nevertheless. Now, since I'm a picky old girl, in my third message I even pointed out a couple of mistakes I had spotted in the book, saying that I hoped I wasn't coming across as rude, but since Deadgirl was getting a reprint...I added that I was surprised to find said mistakes in a book so well-written, and apologized in advance for any involuntary offense caused. After sending the message, I told myself I had managed to alienate my very first author O_o. Luckily, Mr. Johnson didn't even flinch at my bold move, and we went on happily ever after. The matter wasn't even alluded to till three weeks later, when I wrote to him apologizing for a couple of typos in my previous message, and he made a witty remark about typos even appearing in published books sometimes.
The last time I messaged Mr. Johnson, I said I had some questions for him, but I would have left him alone for a while. He replied that his readers were always welcome to ask questions and I didn't have to worry about bothering him, but I haven't written to him ever since. I will do it again at some point, but I still think it's best not to push a writer too much - even a nice one ;).

I had an odd (though not unpleasant) experience with another writer on Goodreads. She saw her upcoming release in my NS (not sure) list - because yes, GR authors get a notification when you add one of their books! though I'm not sure if they are alerted when you remove them too. Anyway, this woman wrote to me saying that she had perused my profile, and she thought her book might not be up my alley because of the romance angle, so it might be best for me not to read it. It was done in a way that left me unsure about her real intentions at first - I thought she was trying to market me her book using reverse psychology. So, I replied kindly, but actually saying so. Upon further exchanges, I came to believe she was honestly trying to warn me off her book because she was afraid I would rate it poorly...anyway, I did politely remind her that reading a book is a free choice, and it's not like an author can steer all the supposedly right audience toward it. Now, you can assume this was an awkward conversation, but in fact it was interesting and even fun to have. Bottom line, I still have her book in my NS list to date. It can't hurt, can it? :)
About authors re-tweeting and such...apart from Mr. Johnson linking to my review on FB and T, I've never experienced it to date. I don't think any of the authors I rated poorly have had anything to say about that so far. More precisely - I don't think they even know I exist, unless they stalk Goodreads :). But I guess I might get nervous at least, if I were a "powerful" blogger, about the chance of my reviews causing drama. You know, like when an author lashes out at a blogger for being honest, nothing more. Not that I would cease to be honest if that should happen. One more reason to do so, actually.
Now, interactions and being friends with authors are a different can of worms. On one hand, I would love to be close to an author...on the other, I'm afraid I would lose my objective stance on her/his books. Of course, one can always choose to promote said books without actually reviewing them - but I'm not sure it would work for me. I do need to have my say LOL. So, unless something unexpected makes me change my mind in the future, for now I'm trying not to cross the line between reader and friend. Assuming that someone in the writing field would be interested in being my friend LOL.

I'm really looking forward to hearing from the "established bloggers". Of course, I don't expect you dropping lots of names - unless it's harmless ;). But I will enjoy your stories nonetheless, and probably learn something from them too!

20 comments:

  1. That is a weird Goodreads exchange. I guess it's ok but there's nothing wrong with reading something outside your comfort zone either. You make like it anyway.

    I think authors worry too much about negative reviews. I'm sure it's got to sting a little but readers don't completely turn away from a book if it's of interest to them. They take several reviews into consideration &decide for themselves.

    I'm only friends with one author and I've stopped reviewing their books on my blog. I still promote the book (only if I like it - that still applies) but use a disclaimer. I'm sure some people still don't believe I'm being honest but I can't control that.

    It is tricky when you interact on social media like Twitter because it can be very informal - talking about food, travel etc and then all of a sudden you're being critical of their work. But as I said in my post you shouldn't interact if you can't handle it.

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    1. I agree about authors stressing too much about negative reviews...though it's more understandable when it comes to indie authors.
      I hear you about interacting on social media. Must be weird. Glad I chose to stay away from them LOL (not for that reason).

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  2. Wow, you've had some interesting stories! I think you're exchange with the author of Deadgirl was interesting. I don't know if I would have been brave enough to point out typos, lol. Kudos to you! Also the author contacting you on GR...I have issues with that already. I definitely think she was trying to steer you away so you wouldn't give it a low star rating. Honestly, I don't think that's right.

    Yes, you are right. When I like an author personally, I do sometimes have to be mindful of being even more objective. Great post!

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    1. Quote: I don't know if I would have been brave enough to point out typos, lol. Kudos to you!
      Thank you, but I'm not sure I was brave. More like hot-headed! ;)

      I can understand that author's concern, up to as point. And she was always polite in her messages. I may even say that we had an interesting exchange. I explained to her how I sometimes deviate from my reading rules, if I see a valid reason why.

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  3. I suspected authors got notified when books were added so a shelf on my Goodreads. I've gotten what I considered strange emails over the years because of it. But they were just things like "I'm just reaching out to readers that have expressed interest in my book yadda yadda" that sort of thing. After reading the emails I always think "how odd." But I think they are just trying to establish a connection that they are hoping you really will read the book and opening that communication channel first. Who knows.

    I email with authors fairly frequently. I don't think I have what I would consider a 'friendship' with any of them. The ones I correspond with it's always because I'm setting up a guest post or an interview. So I don't think that would ever cloud my objectivity of their book. Because when I think friend I think someone I talk to or online chat with on a almost daily or weekly basis.

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    1. Quote: Because when I think friend I think someone I talk to or online chat with on a almost daily or weekly basis.
      Good point. I suppose it takes more than an email or message exchange to become "friend" with an author, even if you really like her or him and the esteem is mutual.

      Thank you for stopping by!

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  4. I agree that it's best not to cross the line with an author, but mostly because I worry about bugging them. I try to mention in my review of a book if I got at a signing or if I've met the author, because it may taint my opinion of a book if I like the author even if I don't know it. That Goodreads romance author email exchange would creep me out!

    Also, Christopher Pike is also the reason why I'm the reader I am today, and he inspired the name of my blog (through his book The Midnight Club) and the name of my book club. I have a mild obsession with him. Okay, maybe full blown obsession, but luckily for him he's fairly hermit-ish. ;)

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    1. I'm sure most of the less-known authors are not bugged as easily as the famous ones (am I being cynical? LOL). Seriously, I suppose the latter don't have all that time on their hands, so they can't commit to interactions that much. But I guess they like compliments!

      I understand how meeting someone can change our perception of their work...so it's commendable that you state it in your reviews :).

      LOL @ the Pike comment. I can't believe he finally stuck his head out his safe, retired place (see: FB page) a little ;). On a side note, it's cool that you named your blog after one of his books!

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  5. Nice blog. Just found you through linky. Following you on GFC and linky :D

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    1. Thanks - I've just done the same :).

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  6. LOL I love your stories! I'm not sure if I can claim some of the authors I interact with as friends. Though I do secretly~ I do leave them questions and and reply back to their questions when ever I get the chance on Facebook posts but other then that it's just reader /author interactions. I do friend authors on FB but I still feel like that doesn't count as being real friends.
    But I am surprise that authors get notified when a reader add their books to their to-read pile. Super anxious now about all the book on my list that haven't been read but talk about as if I have....LOL

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    1. I hear you about the feeling you get when interacting with authors. I used to feel like that (only hundredfold) in the old days, when I sent tons of (unanswered!) letters to my favourite singer...because through his work and some brief encounters, I got the impression we were soulmates...I know you're not exactly saying this, but in a manner of speaking, you know. I admit I was obsessed with the guy, and of course you don't mean that ;). Also, you're right, being friends with authors on FB doesn't really qualifies as being real friends...well, same goes for everyone, not only authors LOL.

      The GR notification system is indeed a bit creepy, though understandable. I wish I knew if authors get alerted when we discard one of their books too. Not that it would change my approach to my reading lists :).

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  7. Those are some interesting stories! B.C. Johnson sounds so nice, but that exchange with the second author on Goodreads sounds a little weird. It's not the kind of rude move that would get bloggers worked up about authors behaving badly, but why would you want to discourage some e from reading your book? Most readers don't write off a book they want to read because of one low rating, and even negative reviews can draw attention to books.

    Although I've been blogging for over a year, I still don't think of myself as "established," but I do tweet my positive reviews to authors. I love it when they get retweeted because I like being acknowledged, and I have had good twitter conversations with some of them, but none of them are my friends. That would be terrible for objectivity.

    Oh, and I just wanted to say that I came here after reading your interview on Blue Sky Bookshelf, and I love your blog's mission! Popular books are often widely read for a reason, but it is saddening when equally good ones are tossed to the side.

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    1. The GR author was concerned because her (first!) book wasn't even out yet, and already it had received a couple of nasty reviews...also, she's an indie, so I can understand her position. But when you put yourself out there, you have to take the good and the bad, I think. I also agree about negative reviews drawing attention to a book sometimes. But maybe she felt vulnerable.

      Objectivity should be a requisite...though none of us is a professional. But I personally like to act like one, and after all, while reviewing is fun for us bloggers, and a single review is not crucial, many reviews can decide the fate of a book - and most authors write for a living.

      Thanks for reading and liking my interview - I thought it had gone almost completely unnoticed LOL. Thanks for validating my "mission" too!

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  8. That second story was a bit odd, I would feel very uncomfortable if an author told me not to read a book! I don't know what I would do really. But you handled it well.
    I read a good few Indie books and mostly those authors do retweet reviews which I appreciate. Even some 3 star ones where I have mentioned some flaws. And I notice that most take the time to 'like' your reviews on goodreads as well and often leave a thoughtful comment.
    If I knew an author IRL though, I don't think I would review their book, I would be afraid my review would not be as they expect and I don't want to drop my impartiality.

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    1. Thank you Trish :).

      It's great that there are many understanding authors out there - but then again, I suppose a 3-star review is still perceived as good and as a form of publicity (at least for indies LOL). As far as mine go, it is a good review (meaning that a book has only minor flaws in my eyes)...though I have often read some on GR where the 3 stars were equivalent to a "meh" book, so it's a bit unclear.

      I would be kind of scared of making friends with an author...and if I knew one, I wouldn't review her/his books either... I guess I'll promote them in a different way, because impartiality means a lot to me too (also, one would lose one's credibility as a blogger otherwise).

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  9. Your NS list story sounds really awkward, but yes, kinda fun :) I think I'd be frustrated and cringing the whole time. I only had one negative experience with an author before and it wasn't too bad. She never named me, but I could tell I was obviously the one she complained about on her blog. I've had many AWESOME interactions with authors though. It's funny because I just had one this week where she saw my Wishlist Wednesday and offered me her ARC which I highlighted...and I never even publicized the post (like tweeted, tagged her, etc). Thankfully, I've had great experiences so when authors do that, I think interactions are a positive thing.

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    1. Wow - it's great that you were offered an ARC on the sole basis of your blog post.
      I think I'd get a weird feeling if an author complained about me publicly...but then again, it's part of the game, and as long as they don't name us, it's fine - I guess!

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  10. I am constantly on the same boat. I have contact with a few authors, a few that i even email on the regular and I'm always afraid that they'll take my not so glowing statements as a personal attack on them and their book. XD

    In fact I've had an author de-friend me and send me a large amount of emails on how my review(which i didn't even rate because I didn't want to bring it's score down since it was so important to him)was unfair and only one of the few that gave it a bad review.

    I'm not what you would consider a powerful blogger either.My sister and I have less than 300 followers but we do have a facebook page :) So i'm not sure if our opinions would dissuade anyone from reading a book, but I think it's important to be honest.

    I like the idea of having contact with a few great authors, but sometimes i think authors can get a bit stalker-ish. And it puts a lot of pressure on the reviewer XD

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    1. Your story about the author made me sad...because really, some of them need to see things in a wider perspective. While it's perfectly reasonable to feel deflated - or even hurt - when facing a negative review, throwing a tantrum about it is immature and inconsiderate. And starting a war with the reviewer? Unacceptable. Especially if the review in question is an honest opinion, as opposed to a nasty piece written with the hidden (or not so hidden) agenda of virtually destroying the book or the author (something that certain reviewers seem to take a perverse pleasure in doing). Which was not the case with you of course, since you didn't even rate the book!
      Also, I must admit you scared me a little. It must be freaky to get all those emails from an angry author. I do hope it won't ever happen to me...though I'm sure it will eventually, if this little blog gets to grow into something bigger. Then again, like you, I will always be honest. There would be no point in blogging and reviewing if you should censor yourself...

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