Funny enough, today’s post was supposed to be a book review… But with all the Twitter drama around tagging authors in reviews, I needed to post an impromptu discussion post today about this!
If you’re not deep in the muck that is Twitter drama, here’s a bit of backstory to fill you in. If you already know all this, skip to the page break!
An author tweeted about it being rude to tag authors in book reviews.
Someone was basically like “Wait, what? Even for good reviews?” To which this author said yes, it makes it awkward for the author to be tagged regardless of if the review is good.
A bunch of authors weighed in saying they like to be tagged in positive reviews (but please don’t tag them in negative reviews). Other authors agreed they don’t to be tagged at all. Neil Gaiman weighed in.
A few people also ran some informal polls on Twitter, and the results were pretty mixed. I’m also going to assume that some of the authors who don’t want to be involved on Twitter and would probably prefer not to be tagged just because it clogs up their mentions didn’t answer here, so there’s likely an under-represented amount of “no tags” answers here.
I feel like the shit really hit the fan when someone made a comment about whether this rule is for “genuine readers” or people who get paid for reviews. This person has since set their account to private so I can’t find the exact wording. Some book bloggers FLIPPED OUT at this, insisting that bloggers are “genuine readers,” and most of us spend a lot of money on blogging and don’t make any money for reviews. The person did later clarify and apologize, saying she meant paid critics published in newspapers and not bloggers, and that using the words “genuine readers” was a bad choice. Lots of people got heated, there are really strong opinions on several nuanced sides.
Wow, that was a lot of background – sorry! Here are MY two cents.
Until today, I’ve always tagged authors in positive reviews. I don’t tag in negative reviews, and I have zero expectations that an author responds in any way when I tweet about a review of their book up on my blog.
When an author DOES respond, even if it’s just liking the tweet, it feels REALLY good. There have been times where an author has replied to a tweet as well and my BFF Ari will text me and be like “Did you see Mia Sosa replied to your tweet?! You’re basically famous!” It feels good to feel like you’re building a rapport with authors. I’ve got several authors who I started reading just because they were such amazing people on Twitter/Facebook/Insta. So yes, while positive interactions from authors can be super awesome, it’s always a BONUS and not something I’d ever expect them to take the time to do. As to Neil Gaiman’s comment about “If I want to see what you have to say I can always go find it,” how are you even going to know I exist?
Not gonna lie, tagging the author also can be a nice boost on MY end for views on that review from people who follow that author. Reviews are the LEAST popular post type on book blogs, and people are more likely to read reviews about books by authors they already know about. Tagging the author in a review post drives traffic to my blog, which drives visibility of that (positive) review of that author’s book, and I’ve always thought of that as a win-win for everyone all around. Then again, I’ve seen authors have crises of self-confidence based on negative things in reviews, and I can see how even small bits of criticism in a largely positive review could be derailing.
I spend $60 for a WordPress personal plan plus another $18 for my domain name each year. That’s not to mention money spent on giveaways and the like. I don’t run ads on my blog, I don’t have affiliate links, and I make zero money off my blog. I primarily post reviews because I’m excited to talk about the books I loved, and I want to share those books with other people. It makes me feel good when people pick up a book I recommended and tell me they loved it too. It makes me feel like I have a purpose, an impact, that I’m not just sinking all these dollars and hours yelling into the void.
I’m really sick of people shitting on book bloggers, and it takes a lot of the joy away from doing this and just causes a lot of heartache. As I write this I’m squashing down all these about-to-cry type of feelings. This is all happening at a kind of crappy time where I’m already struggling with what I want to do with my blog. My WordPress renewal is in a few weeks and I’m not sure I want to keep sinking money into my blog. It seems to cause more heartache than joy lately, between people shitting on bloggers every other week and the stress of feeling like I can’t read what I want to be reading (like rereads of a favorite series that I’ve already reviewed and this has no “value” to my blog) versus what I “should” be reading (egalleys which then require reviews to be written). Frankly, writing reviews is a pain in the ass and I’m ready to just stop writing them, but there’s a really big part of me that feels like that’s “letting down” authors. Which is SILLY because I don’t owe authors anything! *tears at hair*
Interactions – both with other readers and with authors – are what keep me blogging. I want to interact with people and I feel like tagging authors in posts helps drive that interaction, but I also don’t want to do something that’s going to hurt or upset authors.
TL;DR – I have no idea whether or not I should be tagging authors in positive reviews, and have a lot of feelings about this both ways. I JUST DON’T KNOW, YOU GUYS. What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.
9 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About: Book reviews & tagging authors”
Here are my 2 cents. Should people tag authors in the bad reviews? Never. No one needs that negativity across their timeline. Should they tag authors in the good reviews they write? Yes. Because a) more traffic for both blogger and author, and b) it exposes new authors (and author twitters!) to readers they may not have found otherwise.
Neil Gaiman, while a great author and a cool person, does not get a say in this argument. He is one of the most renown authors in the world, and makes a shit ton more money off his books than any of us will ever hope to do. Should people be sending him OTHER people’s negative reviews? Naw, that’s kind of rude. No one needs that. But he is the 1% of authors, and really can’t judge what the other 99% wants.
I also think that book blogging should be fun. Very few people are going to make money at it. We do it because we love to talk about books! When it stops being fun, or significantly hinders the way we interact with books, maybe it’s not a great idea anymore. Ultimately, the most important thing in this game is our love and enthusiasm for books. Without it, none of this even matters, and when that gets compromised, it’s okay to step back, or do less, or shift how things are going.
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Thanks for the thoughtful comment and the support. I’ve decided for now not to tag authors in any reviews, but I’m also going to only post 1 review per week and majorly pull back on posting reviews. I’ll still post on Goodreads (mostly so I can remember what I read, haha) but am probably not going to put so much time and effort into crafting reviews and instead just sort of word-vomit a couple of thoughts on the page. I’m also pushing to get through commitments to read/review outstanding egalleys and requesting much fewer so I can step back a bit.
This drama seems to crop up from time to time, and I had always tagged authors for my blog reviews (which are always positive. I don’t waste space on my blog with negative reviews.) Then I got wishy washy about it, though, I also get more views when I tag the author, and there are some authors, who really appreciate seeing nice things about their books. It’s up to them to engage or not. It’s not like they have to. I don’t get mad if they don’t. That’s one of the reasons I started my Five Star Friday post. You can’t get mad about someone giving your book five stars, right?
When I came across this drama I was taken aback. It never occurred to me that there would be an issue with tagging authors in positive reviews. If the author had a Twitter account, I would tag them thinking it was a good boost for them. I would not necessarily expect them to respond and most of them don’t. After this, since I have no idea who likes being tagged and who is deeply offended by it, I don’t think I will tag authors unless I have some sense that they would like it.
As an alternative, I do also try to tag the publisher. Publishers are in the business of, you know, publicity so it would seem uncontroversial to tag them when reviewing one of their books.
I agree about not tagging authors in negative reviews. However, I also agree with those who have commented here that, for positive reviews, authors are free either to respond or ignore being tagged. Mostly my tags are ignored, but the occasional response along the lines of “Hey, thanks for reading!” means a lot to me.
I’ll never understand the harm in tagging an author in a positive review. I mean, if they don’t want to read what you’ve said they don’t need to follow the link! No one is forcing them to look at what you’ve said… I also think if it’s a blog tour or something you are almost obligated to tag them as they’ve paid someone to organise the tour. However, I think publishing/self-publishing could be heading for problems if they keep shitting on reviewers like this. SO MANY are cutting back on review copies so they can just read what they want and not be bothered with reviews and deadlines (myself included)… With authors seeming so ungrateful that they don’t want tagged in positive things, where is out impetuous to do anything for them? (Although, I feel really mean saying that are most authors I deal with have been nothing but lovely and I’m happy to help! lol)
Well, it is a good thing I don’t read Neil Gaiman because that way I’ll never tag him in a review of any of his books on my blog. But I do tag authors on my reviews, and I’ll continue to do so – unless an author asks me not to do so. So far, no one has complained. Well, one author complained because I pointed out a whole bunch of inaccuracies in their book. But when she figured out I knew my stuff, and I was right, she contacted her editor to make changes in the book for the paperback edition.
I don’t tag authors in reviews, but it’s basically because I’m lazy and I don’t tweet my posts manually (I have a service that does it automatically). I have a feeling the authors who don’t want to be tagged at all are totally in the minority (as the polls seem to show). They can obviously just ignore the tag if they want to, so what’s the big deal? Obviously, tagging for negative reviews or forwarding negative reviews to an author is bad form, though.
Sorry to dredge this up two weeks later, but only found your post now and I think it’s spot on, and I relate hard.
I also splurged on the self-hosting, didn’t do ads, pour a lot of time and effort into it just cause I want to shout about books and get people to read them. And I’m so shy about tagging authors now, even ones that I’m 90% would like to be tagged an would be benefit from even the tiny bit of buzz I can provide. I was shy and awkward before this too, now it’s just extra weird.