You’re probably thinking, “Oh boy, here we go again, another rant about how we shouldn’t respond to negative reviews.” No. That’s not what this is. I’m not writing a post about that because Bekka from Great Imaginations already said everything I have to say about the subject. I’m here to talk about something else: your Twitter stalking tendencies.
Now I know that as an author, you are putting your creation into the world, and it’s only natural to want to know what people are saying about it and, possibly, about you. Social media fuels this flame and leaves this possibility wide open to you. You can simply search your name or your book title and see EVERYTHING. So I get that. I can only imagine that if I were an author, I might be tempted to do the same – whatever the intentions behind it: to gauge success, to find things you could improve on, to see what readers are responding to… All noble intentions. Obviously, you should not respond to negative reviews. If you haven’t picked up on that yet, you need a crash course about the blogging community. It shouldn’t be too hard of a search on Google.
What you also may not want to do is favorite or retweet tweets about you/your book that did not specifically tag you with your Twitter handle. I’ve had this happening to me quite a bit lately, and it sends all the wrong messages. If the tweet did not tag you with your @ handle, it was not meant for you. It was meant for the person to interact with their friends and followers. When you respond, favorite, or retweet such a tweet, you are immediately sending them the message, “I see this because I stalk my name / my book’s title.”
The blogging community is on edge lately with more occurrences of “Badly Behaving Authors” every day. So please understand that even if you’re new to this, bloggers are not. They are scared of becoming a target. When you sneakily favorite or retweet something that was not meant for you, most bloggers are not excited. They’re just not. They’re on edge. Tense. “What happens now?” While you may think that the message you’re putting out there with your interaction is, “Hey, that’s cool! I’m also a human being, and I am available for talking to, and I like this and yay!”, the actual message you are sending is….
With everyone on edge about authors lashing out at bloggers, interacting like this will not have the effect you want – especially if the tweeter is about to read or currently reading your book. Hearts sink. They may put off reading it, knowing that any tweets about it will be monitored. They may not want to finish it at all anymore, if they are not liking it that much at the moment, knowing that a negative review would also be picked up on. Recent occurrences of such interactions and behaviors is one big reason why I recently unlinked my Goodreads account from my Twitter account. It was better for my sanity, but I do miss the fact that friends now don’t as easily see what I’m reading and what I think about it.
Monitor tweets mentioning you and your book all you want, but think twice before you interact. If you’ve talked to the reader before and are mutually following each other, then of course you can respond however you want. But if they’re a complete stranger…. tread carefully. Think about the message you’re sending. Think about the reaction you are hoping to achieve. And do consider the broader context of the book blogging world.
We do love you, authors, and we want to talk to you about your books when we love them. But when we do, we will definitely be sure to tag you in it. If you’re unsure about how you will come across to the reader/blogger, let them make the first move. Some readers may be absolutely fine with this and love you for it, but others may close up and shy away. Do you really want to take that risk?