Authors, Let Your Readers Read in Peace

Posted February 21, 2014 by Debby in Columns / 16 Comments

Dear authors,

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….

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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?

With love,

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Debby

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16 responses to “Authors, Let Your Readers Read in Peace

  1. Yes! Even though I try not to talk about authors and books too openly unless I love it, I totally get why it’d be weird. One time I was watching WhittyNovels and she said she tweeted about how she hated this book by Victoria Scott. She didn’t tag her or anything but somehow the author found it, haha awks! I definitely agree that authors should do this too much. I mean, I love them, but they gotta let us read in peace. 😉
    Laura Plus Books recently posted Getting Over It: Capital LettersMy Profile

  2. Your point about responding to tweets that haven’t included your handle is a good one.

    I’ve not had the need to stalk my name yet, of course. But maybe in the future dreams will come true so I’ll remember that. I don’t really think I WOULD do it anyway, but I can also imagine getting all excited that somebody is talking about my book or whatever, and doing it with good intentions. Your post has definitely made me see that good intentions aren’t the point. So yeah, great post!
    Natalie Crown recently posted Book Tour UpdateMy Profile

  3. Wow. I never thought about it that way, and, in fact, this isn’t something I have ever considered, but now that I read your post, I totally agree! I tag authors on tweets that I want them to see and would like them to respond on. I am not sure I have had an author react to a non-tagged tweet on mine yet, but I do think it would creep me out a bit and make me nervous to say more. Awesome post! Really got me thinking this early friday morning.
    CeCe recently posted ALL the FEELS FridayMy Profile

  4. I remember how shocked and upset I was when I first realized authors were paying attention to my reviews. Like…go aweyyyy. Seriously. I don’t like interacting with authors in any circumstance, much less one where I’m critiquing their book.

    Especially annoying: authors that retweet 1 star reviews. I don’t tag them in those tweets, OBVIOUSLY, but multiple times, an author will be like “Blogger @respire_think didn’t like my book, what do you have to say about that?” Like…WTF. That is just begging their fans to go attack me. (And it was from like, big-name authors, too. Just why.)

    But, I mean, in general, authors need to stay away from reviews. I know they probably read them, and that’s fine, but it just becomes hella awkward when we KNOW they’re stalking us.
    Renae @ Respiring Thoughts recently posted Book Review: The Trouble with Honor (Cabot Sisters #1) by Julia LondonMy Profile

  5. Emma Saska

    I definitely agree that it’s creepy if they’re searching their name/book title. On the one hand, though, I have some authors who follow me, and I don’t always @ them in the Tweet, but they still respond/favorite/retweet, which is okay with me. I never @ authors when I wasn’t a fan of the book. I do like interacting with them when I do @ them or they follow me. All the ones I’ve talked to have exhibited professional behavior, so maybe that’s why it doesn’t bother me right now.

  6. Yes! I get so nervous when I see an author favorite/retweet my tweet about how I’m starting their book, or even start following me! It adds too much pressure for me to love it! I mean, I want to love every book that I read, but that doesn’t happen. Then I feel bad when I don’t love it and I know they’re going to see that because they’re either stalking themselves or followed me (and unfollow once they realize I’m not a fan).

    I do think it’s kind of awesome when authors favorite/retweet positive reviews, or if I rated their book 4/5 on GR and they see that. I do like a quick “thank you” from them when this happens and it makes me kind of giddy. But when I’m in the process of reading the book…leave me in peace!
    Angie F. recently posted Chick Flick Friday: Never Been KissedMy Profile

  7. I’ve never really thought about it this way. I definitely get the added pressure when an author favourites/retweets your tweet about starting their book, but if I said something nice about their book and didn’t @ them, I wouldn’t be upset if they found it and favourited it or something. I’d probably feel pretty giddy that they noticed me, even if it was only for a second! Haha

    But with all of the drama llamas in the author/blogger-sphere, I can see why this behaviour could lead to skittishness or heightened tensions.
    Kelly recently posted Book Review: AsunderMy Profile

  8. Gahhhh THIS. This is so correct. I remember this happening to me once before and I quite frankly found it a little bit creepy. Just a wee bit, especially if it happens whilst I’m reading the book. Though if the author is following me and I follow them, I don’t mind…but when there is no following either way, well yeah. What I feel is everything you described in this post.
    Alice recently posted Trailer Reaction: Guardians of the GalaxyMy Profile

  9. Okay I had no idea this was going on wow great post I do agree, with so many “author’s behaving badly” incidents it does tend to make bloggers wary I think I would be confused. Luckily I have not been stalked through twitter yet. E-mail yes lol
    Lily B recently posted Stacking The Shelves #12My Profile

  10. I agree! It can be really creepy sometimes, like “Wait… you’re stalking my Amazon shopping cart???”

    But… I’m not exactly too bothered with it… unless it’s a negative review and they respond negatively. O_o

    On the other hand, some authors only favorite or retweet if it’s a review, and it’s a positive one, which is fine with me. Just don’t… stalk me shopping cart or I’ll think you’re trying to figure out a way to hijack my account. O_O

    So far all the authors I’ve met haven’t been really weird and monitoring every single one of my tweets about their book, although there’s always one or two. Most of the time it’s hope you enjoy the book!

    Response? Whenever I get around to it.

    ~Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts

  11. I guess I haven’t thought about it that way. If an author notices my tweet and favorites it, I’m super excited. I mean it makes sense if they’re going to search for mentions of their book title, even if their twitter handle wasn’t included. I don’t find that super stalkery feeling, but I am newer to this twitterverse than others. I can see your point though. If every tweet remotely discussing a book gets interacted with, then yea I can see bloggers not wanting to continue something they aren’t enjoying and not feeling like they can freely tweet about it.
    Julie S. recently posted Starters reviewMy Profile

  12. Is it strange that I’ve never thought about this all that much before? I guess it’s generally because I only ever get favorites or RTs from authors that I’m friends, or at least have some sort of acquaintance, with. But I could see how it would feel creepy for some people, and how the scrutiny could change your overall opinion or reaction to a book! This is a well-expressed opinion, Debby!
    Alexa S. recently posted The Luckiest Lady in London – Sherry Thomas (Review)My Profile

  13. Haha, yes, I definitely agree when it’s a reading update or chatting kind of tweet. The one time I’m a little unsure though is when I’m obviously promoting a review of the book, since I don’t always tag the author (why? Because I’m afraid of bothering them D:). And in that case I’m happy for the author to retweet since then I might get more views on my review ya know? Thoughts?
    Anya recently posted The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski ARC {4 Stars}My Profile

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