Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Bloggers Behaving Badly: Are YOU on an Author’s “Hate List”?

Despite the provocative title of this post, the authors who contributed the following want to stress that they LOVE most book bloggers and greatly appreciate us spreading the word about their books. The internet has really facilitated and fostered the relationship between book lovers and authors which can be amazing and rewarding for both sides. But this unprecedented access also has its dark side, and some book bloggers are taking advantage of their position and harassing authors. And this needs to stop.

A few authors frustrated with the current state of things e-mailed me in response to my recent April Fools Day post and shared stories that shocked me and that I think need to be heard. (NOTE: Nearly all authors who contributed to this post are authors of YA books, so I think the following issues may be more of a problem in the YA blogosphere.)

Since book blogging is relatively new, and anyone can start a book blog, all of us are pretty much winging it. We may see something that worked for another blogger...say a follower contest...and we may think that's the best way to grow our readership, when in fact it might not be right for us at all. It can become a perceived competition to see who can get the most followers, the most review copies, etc. And sometimes authors become pawns in our quests for blogosphere domination.

Our book blogs are our brands and everything we post on our blogs or social media sites, everything we write in e-mails, and every interaction we have with publishing professionals has an effect – positive or negative - on our brand. If you think your bad behavior (however infrequent it might be) goes unnoticed, well…I hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t.

So what is considered bad behavior? Mainly, it’s an attitude of entitlement that bugs authors. Saying please and thank you may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at just how many bloggers don’t.

THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER ASK AN AUTHOR (all taken from actual situations):

To do an interview with you when you haven’t read their book or did not like their book. Interviews take time, both for you and the author. If you end up not liking the book, you may not use the interview which just wasted the author’s time. If you dislike the book, why do you want to interview the author anyway? Says one author (sarcastically): I get a lot of really weird requests from book bloggers who seem to think I have nothing better to do. I love the ones that say, "Hi. I haven't read your book, and I probably won't, but can you answer these 4567 questions for me? I think you'll drive some traffic to my blog." Or better yet, “Being on my blog will give you exposure!” Sure it will. I'm also a big fan of, "I hated your book and want to interview you at my blog so you can defend yourself." Uh yeah. I did that once, It was called high school. Thanks.


For a copy of their book to give as a prize after you’ve given their book a bad review. Says one author: Of course we want to get our books out there. Of course appreciate people who blog about our books. But you know what? You review our books and are all honest and sometimes you even say some mean things, and you expect us to take it, and we do. We smile and take it. But please understand that when you give my book a bad review, I am completely shocked when you write to me and ask me for things. If you don't like my book, why on EARTH would you want to offer it as a prize? And why would you think I want to bring attention to your blog and your bad review of my book? You know what that makes me think? It makes me think you are just using me. And I don't like that feeling.

To share a hotel room with you.

To pay for your plane ticket to their book signing in another state.

To do your homework for you.

To come to a reading you’ve set up for them with you and your one friend.


PLEASE DO NOT

Lie or try to trick an author into doing something. Says one author: Probably the thing that bugs me the most is when bloggers lie and say "Here are the questions for the interview!" even though I've never agreed to do an interview with them. It's sneaky and underhanded and just a bad idea to try and trick an author into doing an interview, banking on the possibility that the author might not remember saying no (or not saying yes). I have had this happen a lot.

Send your links of bad reviews to authors or @ reply them on twitter. Of course you have the right the write an honest review – but why do you want to throw a less than stellar critique in an author’s face? Says one author (sarcastically): I love when book bloggers are really rude about my books on their blog, and then tweet their reviews with my twitter name attached, so it shows up for me. And then other people RT it, because they have no idea it’s a bad review…because who would do that?

Get greedy and request all the books from an author’s backlist (especially if the backlist is extensive). Of course it’s understandable if an author pitches you a series book for review that you request the previous books in the series. But in most cases, you do not need an author’s entire backlist to give your opinion on their current book. And if for some reason you do, get them from the library or buy them. Says one author: I’ve had bloggers send review requests for all my books, even the ones that aren’t in print anymore. That just smacks of greed to me, and tells me they don’t understand the actual business of publishing.

Trash an author’s book to punish them for not giving into your demands – whether on your blog, in the comments of a GoodReads review, on twitter, or anywhere public. Says one author: [Some bloggers] feel like they deserve things, and are completely entitled. Then they power trip on that as if their bad review of your book will actually mean you’ll feel sorry you didn’t say yes.

E-mail an author excessively “just to chat”. Says one author: I have a policy that I try to reply to every e-mail I get, but some bloggers take it to the extreme and e-mail me constantly. It’s definitely fun to interact with fans and book bloggers, but if I spend all my time chatting, I won’t have time to write my next book. I’ve had times where I tried to distance myself from especially exuberant bloggers and they have become stalkerish. It’s scary sometimes.

IN MOST CASES, IT IS PREFERRED THAT YOU DO NOT

Request an ARC from an author for review. Authors get very limited ARCs (if any) and in most cases, their ARCs are already promised to others. If you want to review a forthcoming book, please contact an author’s publicist (if you can’t find that information on an author’s website, you may write to ask the author for that info, politely.) Or sign-up for one of the many traveling ARC programs currently running (BookMac has a comprehensive list!) Says one author: I wish someone would let bloggers know that we don't have a never-ending supply of free books to give out.

Request an ARC or a finished copy of an author’s book to use in a contest that has nothing to do with their book - unless of course you know the author (that is, you’ve had meaningful contact with them before) and are a fan of the book. Says one author: Having a one-year anniversary of your blog, or having a birthday, or having your wisdom teeth removed or whatever --- those are all very important to celebrate, but no, I don't want to donate a book in honor of it and mail it out to your winner. And I especially don't want to do it when you act all flip about it, as if it's no big deal for me to send stuff your way. It is a big deal. A trip to the post office is an hour minimum out of my day and basically $15 for the book and postage.


WHEN YOU SHOULD CONTACT AN AUTHOR

You’ve read their book, loved it (or at least really liked it) and:

1) Want to tell them that you loved it and/or send a link to your positive review.
2) Want to do an interview with them. In this case keep your questions to a minimum and give them plenty of time to answer.
3) Want to do a giveaway of their book to coincide with your interview or review (if they are unable to provide you with one, they may refer you to their publicist). In this case, make sure to ask for then respect an author’s geographical shipping restrictions if they agree to provide a copy. Do not choose a winner from Indonesia when they have specified US only.

You are responding to their open offer of swag, review copies, a place on their street team, etc on twitter or on their blogs/websites. Always include a link to your blog and your mailing address if applicable.

You are giving away a copy of their book on your blog (provided by you or publisher) and you want to let them know. Oftentimes, they would LOVE to help by tweeting or blogging about it, to get more people to your blog.

You are trying to raise money or awareness for your library, your reading group, your book club or a reading-related cause and need donations, promotional material, information or support. Make sure to provide all pertinent information in your first e-mail.

You just want to connect and say hi. Says one author: I think most authors are open to a general hello from bloggers. We are a friendly group of people, and we really do appreciate what many book bloggers do for us and for our books. I recently got a "How you doing? Can't wait for your next book" email from a blogger who I did an interview with for my last book. We wrote back and forth for a day or two. It was awesome. Growing relationships is totally possible and it happens all the time between authors and bloggers. I really adore my blogger friends.

You are interested in knowing more about their work. Do your research first, but if there’s something you want to know and you can’t the find the answer anywhere, feel free to send a polite e-mail. One author said: I love hearing from bloggers who haven't read my work, and are excited about it because they only just heard about me. That's so great!

IN CLOSING

I hope no one takes this post the wrong way. Like I said at the beginning, authors LOVE most bloggers. They are just concerned about the few bad apples who purposely take advantage of their position and the growing number of uneducated bloggers who do not realize that they are stirring up ill will. Also keep in mind that the above guidelines may vary from author to author, but one thing never goes out of style: treating authors with the respect you hope to be afforded yourself.

One author wrote: You know, book bloggers were the number one champions of my books. I feel like I owe them a lot, and I try to give back as much as I can. Lately, I've been getting emails from bloggers who act like I owe them a lot, but they never read my books and they don't know who I am. The more of these emails I get, the more I feel bad for the great bloggers who would never do this. I feel like these people are going to give all book bloggers a bad name, and I think that would be a shame for all the great bloggers out there.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Let's hear them in the comments.

155 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Great post, Lenore! I was very relieved to see that I'm not guilty of any of those things!

Amy said...

Um, well I think that just like for every blogger who wants do things a certain way there are author who do things differently as well. Having said that, most of this is obnoxious. :)

Katy said...

This is a fantastic post! I haven't really contacted many authors, mainly because I can put myself in their shoes and can imagine them getting all of the annoying emails that you've listed here. LOL But I'll keep this in mind as I expand my contacts. :)

Suzanne said...

Thank you for this very informative post. I am a new book blogger and I really appreciate this advice.

Katie Alender said...

The vast, enormous majority of bloggers are courteous and awesome. I've had very few experiences otherwise.

But my pet peeves are:

1 - People requesting a review copy when the book is already in stores and libraries (like, months after the release date).

2 - Someone sent me an email (a mass email, actually) asking for giveaway swag and saying they'd be sure to feature the book on the blog, etc. When I emailed back to ask for details about how my book would be featured, I never got a response.

3 - This one doesn't make me mad because people just don't know. But if you're sending a mass email, use the BCC (blind carbon copy) function instead of CC. That way a hundred people don't all get each other's email addresses.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I likely made a couple of these mistakes when I was starting out. Luckily, with time comes a bit more wisdom.

I've totally noticed the @reply thing on Twitter before. Why rub it in an author's face? They totally can see people talking about them!

Great post Lenore! Things that we need to be reminded of now and then.

shelburns said...

Great post! I'm glad to read those thoughts and luckily I haven't done any of DO NOT DO things. I have author friends and I wouldn't dream of doing anything to jeopardize that relationship.

raych said...

It has never crossed my mind to email an author and ask for a book. That feels so presumptuous!

That being said, I have considered asking Margo Lanagan if she'll do my homework. My essays could use more bears...

Veronica said...

Torn on this one:

Send your links of bad reviews to authors or @ reply them on twitter.

**

If we do write a bad review (I never trash an author or book) are we supposed to hide it then? They'll see in their Google alerts. Plus most authors want to know when the review is up..or is that just for good reviews? BTW - I'd rather we say critical review, cause we know all our reviews are good...just we don't always like what we read.

Fyrefly said...

Whew, I'm not on the bad list! Of course, I'm not really on the good list either... despite the fact that the interactions I've had with authors has been overwhelmingly positive, I'm still very shy about contacting authors at all.

~Jennifer~ said...

Some great information here. I never thought of letting an author know when I was giving away one of their books.

You would think that the items on the don't do list would be common sense. It's sad it needs to be spelled out for some people.

beth said...

I'm not really a book blogger, but I do occasionally do review books that really stand out to me. What has shocked me, more than anything, is how often I get a question that is OBVIOUSLY a homework question. I've actually had commenters who cussed me out on my blog because I told them I wouldn't do their homework for them.

I can only imagine how much more uncomfortable it is for a published author to be confronted with a rude book blogger--someone who can and might post negative reviews to a wide audience for their own inability to function like a decent, considerate person.

Beth F said...

Great post. I am off the hook (I'm pretty sure!), but yikes. And one of the biggest lessons I've learned on Twitter: DO NOT retweet a review until you've read it. The worst would be to retweet a tweet of a bad review of an author you love. Yikes.

Lenore said...

Veronica - No, we are not supposed to hide our critical reviews, but we don't need to go to extra lengths to let a author know about them either. They're likely to find them on their own, if they want to.

Veronica said...

Hmm...still unsure. I guess because I do have authors & PR people follow up when I fail to notify them of a review. Feel like it's easier to send an email with "While, I had issues with parts of the book, the review is up in case you want to see it." But I'll accept the no-twitter part of the rule. :)

Jeff said...

This is a great post! When I first got into book blogging I didn't even know the book blogging community existed. I just read a lot of books and gave my opinions on my personal blog.

When I started getting attention from authors and publishers I was a little baffled about proper book blogging etiquette and definitely made some errors (still do probably).

I also think though, there are exceptions to every one of your rules. I do a series of themed interviews with authors whose books I have not read, often times at the request of the author. (See here for an example.)

What has surprised me the most is how open and friendly the people in the publishing world are. If you have a productive website they love helping you out.

Again, thank you for this post. There are so many book bloggers out there and many need this info!

Amanda said...

These really do sound like horror stories. Unfortunately, sometimes horror stories work in reverse too.

I'm a blogger who doesn't do a lot of stuff with authors or publicists. A good half of the books I read are classics by people who are dead already. Every once in awhile, an author contacts me (I've never contacted an author first myself) which is always a real treat and I'm always good to respond quickly and professionally. I've never asked an author for copies of their books and I try to make sure negative criticism in my reviews is fair, not mean/rude.

Recently, though, I had a problem with an author who contacted me asking if I wanted to interview her. I took the time to read her book and think up interview questions, and when she responded she insulted me and my questions in half her answers. She asked if I wanted to follow up, so I did, and she told me she wasn't going to change her answers anyway.

There was no way I could post that interview and I was really frustrated because I took time out and went out of my comfort zone to do all this. Then she acted like I was the one who contacted her in the first place, and I had to feel really guilty when I told her I couldn't post the interview, as if I'd wasted HER time rather than the reverse. It was enough to make me say I'll never do another interview again!

I felt like I wasn't respected in that situation and it makes me even more leery of talking to authors, which is a shame because in general I love talking to authors and they've all been very nice.

Lenore said...

Veronica - Of course I still send all review links to publishers (good or bad), especially if they provided the review copy. In most cases, I do not get books from authors directly, so I don't often have the dilemma of sending them a link to a negative review.

I actually have a case now where an author sent me a book and I could not finish it. I am wondering if I should tell her or not. I have the e-mail in my drafts, but I haven't worked up the courage to send it...

Lenore said...

Jeff - OF COURSE there are exceptions to nearly every rule isn't there? And the more you know about publishing, the better you know what the exceptions are right? Although I can't imagine it would ever be cool to ask an author to fly you to their book signing...

Veronica said...

Lenore: I've run into that with self-published authors. I just be as honest and kind as possible. "The story just didn't grab me and I didn't finish." Sometimes this happens when I try a genre I'm not very fond of. Sometimes it's just the story. Good luck!!

Janicu said...

At first you kind of think - common courtesy should be obvious right? But I wonder if there is just this learning curve and it's not that common if someone just hasn't been taught some of the basics. Could youth be a factor since these are YA authors? I dunno.

I've written reviews where I didn't like a book, and people have RT-ed it @theauthor. I didn't tell them to. It makes me cringe. My reviews are for readers really, not for the author so I don't say "hey, here's my review" unless they ASKED me to review it.

Carrie said...

Veronica, just a note to say that many authors don't read their google alerts. I tend to try to stay away from reviews because I can get really stung. I feel very uncomfortable when someone tweets a critical review my way because I don't like to ignore people to tweet at me, but I don't know what to say because I'm not going to read that review.

Personally, even if I did want to know when a review was up, I'd prob prefer only when the review is good. I don't go looking for people to kick me in the shins and that's what a bad or critical review can feel like.

Lexie said...

I admit I sometimes get so excited while e-mailing an author that I get 'chatty'. Its just kind of my...personality when I'm happy. I do not however e-mail an author out of the blue for the express purposes of 'chatting'. Usually the couple days or week long chatting will be in response to an e-mail I sent about my feelings on their book, or if I want to feature them on my blog or they emailed me about my review.

I haven't been guilty of any of the other fallacies since I first began blogging and didn't understand this can't be treated like personal blogging XD

Thanks Lenore! And thanks to the author contributions!

Lenore said...

Amanda - Yes, as we often hear, sometimes it's the authors behaving badly. That's not in the scope of this this particular post (imagine how much longer it would be!) but of course, it's up to authors to treat bloggers with respect too.

Serena said...

Thanks for these details! It's good to get the other side of the story and see what authors preferences are.

I don't think I'm guilty of these things, and I try not to be, but if an author sends me a book and I didn't like it but they wanted me to let them know the review is up, I will email it to them. What they do with it from there is there prerogative.

Lenore said...

Veronica - I'll try that thanks. And yes, it is a self pubbed author in a genre that's not really for me. I feel like it was a mistake to agree to review it at all. Oh well - live and learn!

Connie said...

Thank you for posting this! I'm fairly new to this game and its a huge relief to have some parameters set down!

Jeff said...

Yeah asking for a plane ticket is pretty presumptuous (if not downright insane). One thing I have done is to separate the authors who participate in promotional things (Giveaways and themed interviews) from authors whose books I review. The exception being if I review the book first, love it and then contact the author.

If the author contacts me I will rarely accept their book for review because I will feel pressured to give it a positive review even if I hated it.

Lenore said...

Janicu - My thoughts exactly. I am writing reviews for readers - to give them a better idea of if they'll like the book or not. It is never meant to be a crit of the author's work - like I know better about what they should have done with their book.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Bloggers have asked for airfare to attend a reading!? And held a "reading" for only 2-3 people?! (how embarrassing!)

Thanks for this reminder, Lenore (and all the authors who contributed their horror stories)

Anna said...

Wow, I can't believe people actually do these things! I don't think I've ever committed any of these sins. ;)

I'm always in awe of authors, though I've learned since I started blogging that they're just regular people. LOL Still, I don't initiate contact with an author unless I loved their book.

Thanks for bringing this issue out into the open.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Chris said...

I'm too self-conscious to do most of these things (the dos and don'ts).

largehearted boy said...

Wonderful post, and something all book bloggers should read.

Beth S. said...

Thank you so much for this informative post! I was happy to see that I'm not guilty of any of those offenses! :o)

carolsnotebook said...

Great post. I don't think I'm guilty, but it was nice to hear what the authors had to say.

LovesSam said...

This post kind of amazed me. Like do people really email authors for interviews when they haven't read their work, or just didn't like it? I didn't think this kind of stuff happened, but maybe thats because my heads in the sand.

I'm quite a private person in real life, and I tend to find that when someone emails me that I don't know, it kind of freaks me out. I always wonder how they found me, even though my email is on my blog. HA!

In the past i've emailed around a handful of authors, mainly just to say why I loved their book or I once emailed an author a piece of poetry/art because I thought it represented one of her characters in her books. I think its nice to email authors you really love, because i'd love to receive mail like that. But, I never expect a response, I just say thanks for taking the time to read this etc.

Most of the stuff on this list is just pretty rude and obnoxious, and I dont blame them for getting a little naffed off, because if it were me, i'd porbably just delete the email and ignore them.

I think I treat authors how I would like to be treated, because at the end of the day, it's their job, they have to stay professional unless you have a relationship with them either online or in person.

I am very relieved I have done none of these things, and am wondering who the perps are!

Staci said...

Your post was fantastic and I have to say I cringed more than once to see what people do!!!!! OMG...don't they know etiquette?????? Hello!!!! I do absolutely nothing to drive my followers. You like my blog and visit..great and thank you very much. I rarely do giveaways except for when the author contacts me to read/review their book and offer up one...or when I'm on a TLC tour and it's offered that way. Otherwise, I try to give my ARCs away....I love the contacts I've had with the authors that I've connected with but in no fashion would I chat with them as if they were my buddy!!! Thanks again for this great post!!!

Liz B said...

I love this post. Love, love, love.

I'd add this about Twitter: It's public. I've seen bloggers tweet angrily about how an author didn't do (pick one: respond to an email, send an ARC, say yes to an interview.) Authors are people; with lives; often a job that is not writing; and limited resources. So personally? I think its rude to tweet (esp w/ the authors twitter name) "author still hasn't gotten back to my interview request from yesterday, how rude."

Re donations: I'm a bit surprised to see that authors are OK with that. What I've heard is that authors have limited copies of books and get hit constantly with the school/library "we have no budget" "we are raising money for x" pitch that would require a few hundred copies to meet the requests each year.

Lenore said...

Liz B - Re: donations: It is my understanding that if an author cannot provide a book, they still might be able to provide something else, like signed bookmarks, a blog post, or even a tweet as a support for the cause. I'm sure author's opinions on this vary, but I'm guessing it doesn't hurt to ask, especially if you are able to take a polite no for an answer.

Andi said...

Great post, and I've enjoyed reading the comments as well. The flip side (how some bloggers have been mistreated by authors) is interesting as well. I've had a few instances when some lesser known authors desperate for attention have driven me NUTS. Most self-published, by the way. lol

Liz B said...

Lenore: OK, those types of donations make much more sense. I've seen (via library listservs) new librarians float the "great idea" of asking authors for book donations & then the authors chime in why book donations aren't feasible. Posters, bookmarks, etc. different.

In five years I have not had negative interactions with authors. I've had a few initial emails that I think are too demanding of what/when will appear on my blog, but not usually from authors. I also don't review self published books.

Kathleen said...

What a great post. I'm happy I have never done any of those things on the negative list. Then again I haven't really done much in the way of author interviews, etc on my blog as of yet. I'd like to think these are common sense but as I expand my blog it will good to have these things in mind. Our relationship with authors is a symbiotic one and we need to be mindful of that. I guess it all gets down to the Golden Rule for me...treat others the way you want to be treated!

Shannon Delany said...

Wonderful post, Lenore. Great thoughts for your fellow bloggers.

As a debut author I've been very fortunate to have lots of positive interactions with bloggers and I firmly believe the growing power the Internet has for word-of-mouth and connecting authors and readers is awesome.

You mentioned "brand." THANK YOU. Book blogging is increasingly competitive and bloggers must each establish a unique brand or find a niche and then keep showcasing it professionally to stay relevant and respected (just like authors are being told to do).

ARC tours are a great way to get involved as a new book blogger but even getting ARCs in those can take some persuasion because they are scarce. Many of us (at least debuts) only get 10 with real covers and those are still aimed at our fellow authors most times. Even if you get an ARC and don't like it, review it honestly and please pass it on (don''t sell it). Remember, some books just don't work for some people.

As authors, we expect honesty in reviews but not the brutality I've occasionally seen dished out to writers. Stay professional. Anything less is a disservice to both us and you.

We need each other and this is very much a brave new world for all of us. Glad you're addressing some of the concerns you've seen or read about.

Stepping off my soapbox, ;-)
~Shannon

Florinda said...

Oh, good. I'm pretty sure I'm safe; I don't really interact all that much with authors directly, other than through their blogs or my own. But I totally believe people have done all these things. As my mom used to say, "The nerve of some people's grandchildren!"

FYI, Lenore - you're making the links roundup again this week (the "Bookmarks" portion of my Sunday Salon post) :-D.

Diana Dang said...

Great post and I totally agree with the content there. Though I worry for myself a bit for one of the points you stated. xD;

Lauren said...

I initially read this post expecting to cringe the whole way through it... and for most of it, that's exactly what I did. I hate the thought that authors have this kind of experience with members of the blogging community.

However, I found the 'When You Should Contact An Author' section really enlightening. I've often considered emailing an author a link to my review when they've written a book I love, but I chicken out. I feel encouraged to just go for it now.

bookaholic said...

Great post Lenore!

Library Cat said...

Lenore, this was an excellent post and positive information for book bloggers who might not think of doing these things and are now reminded not to! Like you, I rarely get a book to review directly from an author, so I haven't broken any of those rules. I love the YA genre and hope to read more in that area as soon as I complete some other reading obligations. Thank you as always for some thought provoking words of advice.

Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

Woah people are doing half this stuff? Sweet bejeez. I love interviewing authors, but I would never contact an author that I hadn't read their book. I link up my reviews on twitter all the time, but if I don't like a book I'm sure as heck not going to include the author's name so they can directly see it. They might stumble across it via google alerts, but why slam it in their face like that? As Steph Tanner would say: How rude!

Great post, Lenore!

Patti said...

I can't believe people do these things. How horrendous!

This was one of the best posts I've read in awhile (and I subscribe to many many blogs). I've really been enjoying the discussion oriented posts!

Cinnamon said...

Oh man, a lot of this was painful to read. I'm saddened that people actually act like this. I'll admit to throwing a few contests here and there to generate additional readers, but I like to think that it was to get word out about the blog and not just to participate in a popularity contest. I don't host as many contests as I used to mainly because there seems to be a negative stigma attached to them now.

As far as lying to authors and forwarding on bad reviews - well, come on. Not ever blogger needs or wants to be "professional" but we could at least be polite. Lying to anyone isn't particularly cool and as far as bad reviews go, I still hold that there is something good in almost every book. If I have a review with some negative aspects to it, I still try very hard to give the positive aspects of the book equal face time. I hope I succeed with that. I also rarely forward my reviews on to authors, positive or less than stellar. I don't know why - I figure they already get plenty of email and I guess my reviews are mainly to share awesome books with other readers, not proudly display my glowing opinion to the author (although I love it when my reviews can brighten an author's day).

I also rarely request books. I just feel...weird about it. I don't know if I just don't know how to go about it or if I just feel innately greedy asking for something I can buy or borrow in a few months. It's sad though, that those who are professional about requesting review copies are having to be thrown in with the lot who just want to play in the Lets-Get-Free-Books game.

This was a great post Lenore! A good look into book blogging and hopefully a good guide to help calm down the shark filled waters of the blogosphere.

Candace said...

Great post! Luckily I'm not guilty of any of those things! Thanks for hopefully bringing to attention those 'no-no's' to the guilty ones!

Heidi Ashworth said...

Having just one book out (so far) which is not in the YA genre, I haven't experienced a whole lot of this (except for the fun relationship with fan bloggers which I love) but I can certainly see how it is happening out there. Might I also mention to those who believe that their high and mighty, self-serving reviews on Goodreads can only be seen by their personal Goodreads friends, think again. Anyone can read any review done on any book. Authors are human and trashing a book in a disdainful way to make you look "cool" to your friends is not nice.

Heather said...

Great post! As a future hopeful author, I have to admit that some of these things made me a little scared...I finally understand why some people would want to use pen names and hide their email addresses...

Alison's Book Marks said...

There were some items on this post that made me gasp out loud! First, I have to allow myself a sign of relief that I'm not guilty of any of these things!

Second, I have to hope that the right people read your post!

Last. When in doubt, let's all fall back on common courtesy. The publishing world is a small one.

Rabid Fox said...

A very good post, Lenore. It's surprising how much common sense and etiquette is disregarded online.

I was just contacted this week by a literary agent for the first time, requesting me to review the book of a new author. I've agreed, but I wonder if I should have made mention that there is a likelihood of a bad review.

It shouldn't have to be said, I don't think, but I wonder how it will be received by the agent and author if I end up not liking the book and writing as much in my review.

Time will tell.

Heidi V said...

I'm with Connie this is a great post it really does help...I'm still new to the game and it's a great introduction into what to do and not do.

A.S. King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A.S. King said...

I think this is a really helpful post, Lenore. I have experienced some of this, and I never know what to do about it. But for the most part, I find book bloggers to be some of the awesomest people on the planet.

As for turning it around to authors, yes, I have heard horror stories. Not sure why they're particularly relevant upon reading this post, but I've come up against many skeptical booksellers (and librarians) when I set up an appointment to introduce myself and my books due to the actions of not-so-mannerly-and-often-pushy authors who dropped by before I did. So, yeah, authors are affected by those not-so-cool folks too. :)

I have more to say, but no time! Great post, Lenore.

Ladybug said...

This post was just amazing, Lenore! I really enjoyed reading it and as far as I can tell I shouldn't be on any authors "hate list".

I hadn't thought about letting the author know when I give away a copy of their book. I have a giveaway going on now so I'm going to let the authors now right now. A short, polite DM on Twitter might perhaps be ok?

I haven't read your April Fool's post yet but it's next on my list.

Monica said...

OMG. I am appalled at some of the stuff on this list. Makes me feel ashamed and I haven't even done any of those things.

GAH.

Tynga said...

Great post!
I guess the only thing I'm guilty about is asking interview from authors I'm acutally really excited to read, but haven't read title X yet.

I always try to do the best I can, but we never really know if we do things the right way. It's nice to have an author's opinion

Amy said...

I am a first time author and have been on tour for much of the past year. I've experienced some of the offenses you mention below; it's as if some bloggers don't realize that book authors are real people who experience the same real-world frustrations and stresses they have. Not surprisingly, the more professional and successful bloggers seem to behave more professionally.

Tynga said...

I'd be really curious to know what authors consider a bad review.
Every now and then I write reviews that I think are generally, but I mention that I didn't like X, Y or Z and give a reason.

Becky said...

The things people do! Yowsa!
This all points to the fact that some people are book blogging for different reasons to the majority of us. I honestly don't care if people are doing it for ARCs but I'm starting to wonder if I should. I do not want to be associated with such rude and offensive behaviour. I would never @ reply an author if it was a bad review. I feel like I'm super brave just to post it at all. I do link it to the publisher if it was for review though because they are obviously interested in what I have to say.

I'm developing some wonderful relationships with a handful of authors after reviewing their books but I would never just email them for a lot of nonsense. I wonder if other bloggers get nonsense emails from other bloggers. You've got me interested now.

Sensational post Lenore!

lijamarie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny said...

I felt unbelievably uncomfortable reading this post: I can't believe people DO some of these things! Sheesh.

writerspet said...

Fantastic post. Hearing about other people's misdemeanors is such a guilty pleasure!

It makes me shudder to even imagine emailing or tweeting an author with a bad review. I feel pangs of guilt for saying being even generously critical, even when the author will probably never ever see my review! Not sure what such bloggers are hoping to get out of doing that. Actual confrontation that will in turn bring blog publicity?

And thanks for ending with the positives - nice to hear that authors do (for the most part) appreciate cultivating relationships with readers and bloggers.

Sadako said...

I was afraid I'd done something awful--I do an awful lot of snark. But I never contact the authors directly or tell them anything...or, um, ask for hotel rooms?! WTF?

Nymeth said...

I can hardly believe some of this happens at all! (Of course, I DO believe it, but it's just...eek.)

Jackie (Farm lane Books) said...

Great post! I am actually surprised by how much interaction there is between bloggers and authors. I try to avoid it as much as possible as I feel uncomfortable becoming involved with them - even if I love their work. I prefer to admire from afar and can't imagine ever wanting to email them.

I have been pestered by a few authors too (especially self-published ones) I would love to see the reverse of this post in the future - I'm sure you could get a wealth of 'authors behaving badly' quotes!

Michelle (my books. my life.) said...

Great advice. I think I'm safe. :)

I Heart Monster said...

I think this is one of those posts that will be referred to for a long time. Thanks for taking the time to put all of this stuff together :o) It will be handy bookmark this so that I can direct new bloggers to this post, when they ask for advice. I never feel qualified to give advice, but I'd definitely send them your way!

I've been fortunate in my dealings with authors and always found that they are courteous... I also pay for most of the books I review, so I don't feel bad posting what I think. If an author sends me a book for review, and I don't feel that I can review it in a positive light, I usually contact them and let them know that I didn't like it. I then give them the option of whether or not I even write a review for it. Some say yes, others say no... I leave it up to them. If I like the book, but have a specific issue with it, I'll usually email the author and ask them why they felt it was necessary to incorporate that part into the story, or ask how they meant to convey the parts I had issue with. I do this before I write the review so that I can keep my mind open and hopefully be able to see things from multiple perspectives... which is something I think we really should do as bloggers.

Bonnie said...

What a great post and discussionn in the comments! I can't believe that some people are doing these things and it makes me wonder about their true intentions.

trish said...

I was going to make a joke but since someone might see my comment and not know my true intentions, I will refrain.

However, I am a pro at gushing. If I finish a book and I loved it and the author is alive, I shoot of an email and gush away. Oh, except I didn't shoot off an email to Justin Cronin because I think I'm speaking into a void as far as he's concerned since everyone is tripping over themselves to tell him how good THE PASSAGE was. :(

ReggieWrites said...

Great post! This is a really helpful post for old bloggers as well as the newbies =) Whenever I ask an author for an interview, I always make sure to be polite and make sure to state that there isn't any pressure to do the review. I know some authors who are SUPER busy so I don't bug them about it pr am bothered. Thanks Lenore!

Laina said...

To the giving away a book after giving it a negative review, I think that's a matter of how you approach it. Some bloggers will have "Second Chance" contests where they say that they didn't like the book, but they hope someone else will. Which I personally think is pretty cool.

Great post, by the way!!

Mary (The Sweet Bookshelf) said...

WHOA!!! People actually DO that?!?!?!
I'm SHOCKED!!!!!!!!!

That is really unfortunate. I've never done any of those things, but I am now going to be extra careful when dealing with any author. They deserve a lot of respect, and if people are treating them this way then they need extra special care.

These bloggers must have been raised by wolves! I'm shaking my head in shock!

Maggie Stiefvater said...

This is a fantastic post, Lenore! For the most part, I absolutely love book bloggers and what they do. But I have to admit I've had some weeks where a blogger has done one or more of the things on your list and it just makes me avoid the other blog requests in my inbox for awhile, because of the bad taste in my mouth. Despite all these horror stories, for me, the absolute worst is a lack of please or thank you or asking me for something before doing an ounce of research or reading. I love to help bloggers and I love to have bloggers feature my books, but AUTHORS ARE PEOPLE TOO.

:D

Lenore said...

Laina - I think that's cool too. But those bloggers are donating their own copies of the book. I doubt they are asking the author to donate one to their "second chance" cause.

Zibilee said...

I really liked this post and think it is really cool that so many authors contacted you to let you know about their pet peeves when it comes to bloggers. I read this list holding my breath, hoping that I hadn't done anything offensive, and was glad to find that I have been playing by the rules. I think I may have once contacted an author for a review copy, but I quickly realized that was not the way it was done, and have not done so since. Thanks for posting this, I think it's helpful to a lot of people.

MissAttitude said...

This was a wonderful horrific post. Some of these things (like privat readings?!) were just mind-boggling.

I think I may be guilty of tweeting a negative review, but never using the twittername of the author (I don't read too many bad books and I don't think any authors of books I have reviewed negatively have had twitter accounts). But I totally understand why that's rude and I'll be sure to never do it.

The only time I've had trouble with authors is when they are self-published. But that was an ecxeption. Most authors (YA authors at least) are really friendly, it just may take them awhile to respond, which is totally understandable since they have LIVES.

Some of these things are just common sense. Where is good home training?!

Julia said...

Great post! As an upcoming debut author, I've done only a smattering of interviews. I hope that I don't run into the BBBB's!

Karisha Prescott said...

Just Amazing. Love this post. I haven't contacted many bloggers or authors online, but it is something to keep in mind - etiquette, being polite and being respectful. All good rules to follow in life and (for this and other matters)everywhere online.
Again - Great post!

Readingjunky said...

Great post! I try to be a responsible blogger. It's hard to believe there are folks like you describe out there harrassing authors. It's a shame.

RJ

MarceJ said...

What a great post and feedback. I have been blogging since Oct and have took the time to network and understand the do's and do not's.

I love when authors stop by and comment, that is a bonus for me.

I have recently received 3 requests from authors and one I knew I wouldn't be interested in so I replied and thanked them for contacting me but declined to accept the book.

In the short time of blogging I can feel a little competitive side to some bloggers, that is a turn off.

I am thank you for followers that comment and definitely authors.

Thanks for sharing this Lenore.

the story siren said...

Great post Lenore. Hope don't mind that I tweeted about it!

I do have to admit that I've asked an author for an interview when I haven't read their book. Although most of the time, if I haven't read it, I'm planning to or I'm excited about reading it.

I'm actually not really surprised at most of the "horror" stories listed here. Unfortunately I've even witnessed some of the acts.

We aren't perfect. I know I'm not, I'm sure I've opened my mouth when I should have kept it shut, done something when I should have done nothing, but it truly is a learning experience.

Just try to be courteous. It goes a long way.

And honestly... an author doesn't owe a blogger anything.

Michelle said...

Wow. Just wow. People actually do those sorts of things? This was such a great post - and I too am glad to know that authors do like to get positive feedback from readers/bloggers!

MT said...

Awesome post. Thanks for that! I'm glad to have discovered your blog. :)

RaĆ­la said...

The best post of the week, definitely! Thank you. I've been contacting a few authors lately and I don't feel guilty of anything. Thank God, they didn't seem to be annoyed... I try to be as less annoying as I can. I think being polite and grateful is the secret.

Again, thank you for this amazing post! :)

Rebecca Herman said...

Great post! But wow, some of those are crazy! I can't believe someone actually asked for plane tickets, wow!

Dwayne said...

Very helpful post with an enlightening and light tone - thank you for this wonderful post Lenore! :)

Sandra said...

Happily, I have never done most of these things but it's a good reminder for all of us. I did email a few authors for arcs when I first started and didn't know how to find publicists. Would you believe they were all as sweet as pie about it?
I will refer to this list in future if I'm ever in doubt what is acceptable and what is not. Thank you for posting this, I know it was a lot of work. It's great that you care about the book blogging community.

Lorin said...

Wow, there are some rude bloggers out there, based on these stories.

Sandy Nawrot said...

It seems kinda silly for me to pipe up after 94 people did before me (!) but still, I feel left out! This is a great post. I'm shocked and horrified that bloggers actually do stuff like this! That takes some serious nerve, or perhaps just lack of common courtesy.

M.R.Bunderson said...

Great and informative article. As a debut author myself I just sent out a couple of books this week to some book blogger sites (who had already agreed to do a review). I must admit I'm a bit nervous about what they'll say but if they aren't honest it's not useful to me. I can take a bad review if it's warrented.

In fact I just got my first bad one the other day. I replied to her goodreads review, told her I was sorry she didn't like it and that she made some good points. She did.

So please, review away.

ham1299 said...

Very good post! I cannot believe how rude some people get. I consider getting these books to blog about (not counting the ones I purchase at Borders or whatever) a privilege.

Anonymous said...

I'm an author, and I have a slightly different twist on a couple of points:

I don't mind if a person asks for an interview and hasn't read the book yet. It is usually a better interview if they've read it, though.

To answer Veronica: No, it's not necessary to notify an author of a negative review. In fact, my policy is, "Please don't. Post your review, say what you want, have a happy life, but if you hated my book there's no need to seek me out and tell me."

When asking for books or ARCs, it's much better if the blogger says, "I'd love a copy for XYZ purpose. If you'd like to provide/donate one, please let me know!" rather than, "Will you please send me a book/ARC?" The first one lets the author reply if interested, but without being put on the spot having to produce an awkward, "Sorry, no."

If the blogger is acting professionally, politely, and in good faith, that goes a long way. Then, even if the person accidentally commits a breach of etiquette, it will be seen for what it is: an innocent mistake.

Almost all of my interactions with bloggers have been very positive.

Chachic said...

Great post! It's interesting to know about the horror stories that authors encounter from book bloggers.

Wendy said...

Wow, you really hit a hot button with this post, Lenore. Look at all those comments!!!

First of all - great post.

Secondly, have bloggers really done these obnoxious things?!?!? I was a little stunned to read some of them (especially asking for plane fare...what?!??!)

Lastly, I really think that the author/blogger relationship is a two way street...respect needs to happen on both sides. My experiences with authors have been wonderful...but I have to admit, I am very selective about the books I accept for review and so I normally am not faced with giving negative reviews of books that have come from authors. I also am intimidated by interviews...so I don't do them :) The book give aways I have held on my blog are about 95% from publicists or publishers as authors don't typically have books to giveaway...and except for my Reading for a Cure project, I have never requested books for giveaway (they have always been offered). I also don't usually give away books I haven't read and reviewed first.

That all said...it makes me really sad to think there are bloggers out there who are doing some of the things you mention. It is really all about being courteous...and the Golden Rule...treat others how YOU would like to be treated.

Daisy Whitney said...

Great post, great insight!

BookChic said...

Great post!! It was really interesting and eye-opening. I'm surprised anyone does any of those things, except for the interview request without reading one. I do that, but usually with the intent of reading their book(s) soon. A lot of the time, I haven't read my Fresh New Voice of YA authors when I send questions to them. But I don't think that should be a problem if you have the intent to read the author's book(s).

Lisa Schroeder said...

I'm a YA author, and one of the things I've seen a LOT of lately are the requests for books to celebrate xyz (usually a blogaversary). When I've been asked to donate for that kind of thing, usually the blogger is very complimentary, loves my books, etc. and it's hard to say no. So I've said yes a few times, then I got a bunch MORE requests and I realized, I shouldn't be donating books for that kind of thing! And I'm sorry, I feel like I may have perpetuated the problem for other authors - ack!!

I suppose it's a learning experience for all of us.

I hate saying no, I feel like a terrible person, but I've come to realize that if a blogger wants to celebrate something, he/she needs to provide the goodies. If it's too expensive, then just don't do it.

I think it's sort of like a person hosting a party and asking someone else to bring all the snacks, right?

Thanks for this very helpful post.

April (BooksandWine) said...

Oh em gee. Who in their right fricken mind asks an author for plane tickets? These guys don't sit on piles on money. WOW. Just wow.

This makes me happy that I don't email authors, I talk to them on twitter once in awhile and chatzy. I see it as, I have my own friends, and while I like authors, I think being buddy-buddy would taint my reviewing.

Jason Henderson said...

I've been writing since before there were blogs, but in my comics work I've had some of the best experiences ever with review sites and now blogs. I love your rules about interviews and would reaffirm: every interview that brings attention helps. So I do always respond, and if I'm backed up, I try to send a note saying I'm backed up but will get there.

In complete, complete honesty, many authors I know *do*, really do love to hear from bloggers and readers in general. Heck, one of my best friends was an author I wrote to because I admired his work. I'd say never to be afraid of sending someone whose work you admire a note. The days can get lonely. And some authors are absolute jerks in general, and were before they were authors, I'm betting. A common sense rule would be that it's probably not worth it to send mean comments to an author, and it's totally asinine for an author to send mean comments back.

It's also asinine for an author to respond to a bad review. Just poor form.

As to twitter-- yeah, I can't see much point in @ replying an author with a bad review. We need the good reviews, not for our egos but because this is our livelihoods-- so a bad review is working against us. Sure, bad reviews happen, but we're not eager to promote them. @replying essentially promotes them. But hey, honestly, it's totally your call: you don't work for the author and don't have to be kind.

But we really like the kind ones.

Liviania said...

I did send authors some bad reviews early in my blogging days. I wasn't doing it to be mean, but I thought it was equal since I told authors I gave good reviews when I reviewed their book . . . I don't know what I was thinking.

Liviania said...

Oh, now that I've read the comments, I have something to say about donating for XYZ. For both of my blogoversaries, I asked participating authors if they were willing to donate anything. But I feature each author individually and give their stuff away with their post. The big prize pack is provided by me. A prize donated by an author is a prize that should be used to promote that author.

Jan von Harz said...

Being fairly new at this, I have yet to ask an author for an ARC, I learned from other bloggers early on that was a no, no.

I have contacted authors after reading their books for an interview and they have graciously responded. I keep the questions to a short 7-10 questions. I try hard to highlight them in such a way they will get the most attention.

I cannot believe that bloggers would do any of the things you listed, but then I guess some feel a need to be competitive.

I do feel you must be honest in your reviews. If it is not a book you find worthy of praise, then at least there should be a way to offset the bad with some good.

Great post though very eye opening.

Leah @ Reviews of a Bookaholic said...

Great post!!
I've gotten in contact with authors (through goodreads) just to say I love their books or just a short question. But I've never asked for books. Why? I just don't feel the need. I mean, yes, sometimes I would love to read the next book in the series right away, but I'll deal with it. There are heaps more books out there that I haven't read. And, even just getting in contact with authors is great! Because, in someways saying you have even just talked to an author can make your day :)

Susan @ Reading Upside Down said...

I receive quite a lot of ARC books, but my contact is always with publicists rather than authors when it comes to review copies. I'm pleased to say that I haven't done any of the things listed here in your post.

I have had some contact with authors, via interviews, Twitter and email, and have generally found them extremely friendly and receptive to working together to promote their books.

I did speak with an author recently who was interviewed on the radio by someone who started their live interview with "I haven't read your book, but..." How insensitive and unprofessional.

Thanks for your post Lenore.

Charlie said...

Those situations sound so rude and assuming! Especially contacting an author about a book you hated. Though in the opposite case I would never have thought to email an author about a review I'd written.

That's not to say I'll suddenly start harassing authors of course, but this was an interesting read.

Lori's Reading Corner said...

Great post Lenore.

My friend and I were just talking about this the other day and how it should be about blogging about our thoughts on the books we've read (since that's why we started the blog in the first place), and not a competition about who gets what.

"Since book blogging is relatively new, and anyone can start a book blog, all of us are pretty much winging it. We may see something that worked for another blogger...say a follower contest...and we may think that's the best way to grow our readership, when in fact it might not be right for us at all. It can become a perceived competition to see who can get the most followers, the most review copies, etc. And sometimes authors become pawns in our quests for blogosphere domination."

Confused said...

Is it bad manners if an author approaches YOU for a review and you ask for a copy?? If no, what are you supposed to do??

brizmus said...

What I have to say is that I am just HORRIFIED by some of those things that other bloggers have done. I literally can't believe that someone would do those things.
I was glad to hear Amanda's story to know that sometimes authors can be just as obnoxious.
It's sad, though, really, that people can be obnoxious like that without really even thinking. Just because we review books for fun does not make us entitled.
Thanks for this great post!

Jessica Kennedy said...

This is just too sad. Really.

Even though I would consider a few authors acquaintances, I would never email them requesting something for nothing, and I would always do it with respect if any communication was necessary.

There's always a right way and a wrong way of writing to anyone really.

Bloggers are not entitled to anything, except freedom of speech.

The rest of this is common sense that anyone with a brain would not do before really thinking about it.

I still look at authors as celebrities. They probably don't think of themselves as celebrities but I do. Even though it's there to do it (email, Twitter, Facebook) don't smother your celebrities. :)

Zoe said...

Great post, and some interesting comments (though I admit I've only read half of them).

I have to say that, like Veronica, I'm torn on the issue of negative reviews, which I'd also like to distinguish from "bad" reviews. A review can praise the book and still be bad. Likewise, a review can criticize a book and still be good. There's that whole concept of "constructive criticism".

So I'm not sure what I think of the idea of authors hiding from negative reviews; I think I'd prefer it if they read them and considered how they could use the input to make their books even better in the future.

A case in point: I recently read a book that ended in a horrible cliffhanger. I mentioned it in my Amazon review (though I didn't tweet it to the author), as did several other people. The author acknowledged in a comment on her blog that there had been some "interesting reactions" to the ending, and went even farther to ask, "Will you forgive me if I promise not to do it again?" And I think that's fantastic. It shows that she cares about her readers and their concerns. Listening to negative feedback about the current book will just make her future books even better.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I just felt compelled to post again re: negative reviews/ critical reviews.

1) I think it's pretty weird to use an author's twitter name to tweet a book you didn't like. It guarantees that she/ he will see it. I understand it with a mostly positive review, because you're directing your followers to go find them on twitter since you liked their book. But what's the point if you DIDN'T like the book? None - just feels like rubbing the author's nose in it.

2) re: authors reading their negative/ critical reviews to improve. I have to say that I find this to be a really uncomfortable road to go down. Not because I mind critical reviews -- I have a very thick skin (thicker than most other authors, I have discovered while finding crit partners) -- but because if you go and look up SHIVER on Goodreads, you will find thousands of reviews. Good, bad, ugly, etc. And they disagree with each other all the time. The good ones don't agree on what's good. the bad ones don't agree with what's bad. An author could chase those "lessons to be learned" in reviews for their entire lives. Believe me, it's TOO MUCH INPUT.

3) Ultimately, I think reviews are for readers, not for authors. I love to read critical interpretations of my books. But I can't read them all. And honestly, I have an editor, a copy editor, two critique partners, and a beta reader that go through my work before it goes out into the world. I'm sure other authors have similar support groups. We love bloggers. Many bloggers are incredibly well read and have critical reviews that are wonderfully backed up and informed. But some don't like a book for reasons that just don't make sense. Bloggers can't be our writing teachers. I don't think a review should be written with the author as its target audience.

Lenore said...

Anon Author - I really like your phrasing: "I'd love a copy for XYZ purpose. If you'd like to provide/donate one, please let me know!" Thanks!

BookChic - I don't think it's a hard and fast rule. Some authors won't have a problem with it, and of course there are a multitude of reasons why you might want to interview an author before you have a chance to read their book. It's just something to think about!

Lenore said...

Lisa S. - I like that analogy. Of course you can ask your good friends to bring some snacks to your party too - but would you ask a complete stranger?! Probably not.

Liviania - I would think most authors wouldn't have a problem with donating a book if it was a CLEAR promotion opp for them. Sometimes though, bloggers act like the author should jump at the chance to donate a book just to get the book mentioned among a bunch of others.

Lenore said...

Confused - If an author approaches YOU for a review, then by all means, ask if they intend to provide you with a copy. Naturally, you might still want to if you can get it easily at your library, but you probably won't want to if it means buying your own copy. THat is of course, up to you.

Lenore said...

Zoe - I think I have to agree with Maggie S. here. Traditionally pubbed authors go through enough critique that reader feedback isn't really going to be all that useful for them. I mean, of course, if like in the case you mentioned, a great majority of fans are against something and revolt, yes, that's certainly something for the author to think about.


So unless you are reviewing a self-pubbed author (who can probably use crits, though they may not appreciate it), I think you should review with the idea that readers are your audience. Sure, the author may well see your review, but I personally don't write my reviews with authors in mind.

sharonlovescats said...

Wow interesting post. I think you need to do one titled "Are you on fellow blogger's hate list?" Because a lot the newer bloggers are doing things that piss off the rest of us.

sharonlovescats said...

hmmmm...there are already so many comments here. I don't know if I have anything new to add. I do think that @replying a negative review to an author on twitter is just plain rude. I know a blogger who read 20ish pages of a book, wrote a bad review, and @replied the author about it on twitter. Granted I like to make fun of bad books now and than but I'd never EVER @reply to them. However, I think that I might still be in the wrong so from now on I'm not picking on books on twitter. I'm learning from my mistakes. :)

Lenore said...

Ok apparently author Barry Lyga is NOT opposed to giving out free books to bloggers to giveaway (while supplies last): http://barrylyga.com/new/books-for-blogs.html

Zoe said...

Thanks, Maggie, for the input on negative reviews.

To clarify, I wasn't suggesting than an author should read every single review of her books. But I'd imagine that you'd be curious about the reviews when a book has just been released, so you might read, say, the first twenty of them (correct me if I'm way off base here, of course). So you go to Amazon or GoodReads, and you can either read all the reviews (which are initially quite limited in number) or look at only the 4- and 5-star ones. It sounded like some people here favoured the second approach and the avoidance of all negative feedback, and I don't think that will help in the long run. It's not that you should try to be all things to all people, but that it's good to at least be aware of what people are saying, so you can notice if there are any commonalities.

On that note, I also don't think reader reactions are totally random. Sure, there will always be some people who like a certain book and others who don't, but I like to believe that there's also some real sense in which some books are better than others. Otherwise, publishers wouldn't have to bother going through manuscripts and choosing which ones to publish; they could just take the one off the top of the pile and let marketing do the rest.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Zoe: you're right, I'm a total review ho before the book comes out. I don't know how much it impacts what I do with the NEXT one, but you bet your bippy that right now I'm insane for review of LINGER. ;p

So no, I wasn't saying that as an author, I didn't read my reviews at all -- just that by the time most reviews hit my google alerts or my twitter, when the book is out, I've long since stopped reading them.

Zoe said...

Oops, just noticed that I hadn't actually clicked "Publish" on my response to Maggie, and now I've missed Lenore's comment in between.

I definitely review for readers rather than authors, but the idea of "I deliberately avoid seeing anything bad about my book" just rubs me the wrong way.

I actually think successful authors can benefit from negative feedback as much as new authors. And they can certainly deal with it more easily, because they already have the confidence caused by their success behind them.

An example: I think J.K. Rowling's editors became afraid of her once she was hugely successful. I know I'm not alone in feeling that a lot could have been cut out of HP 7 (especially the time spent waiting around in the woods). And while I don't read Anne Rice, I've heard that she's actually rejected the concept of editors entirely.

Does this hurt sales? No, it doesn't really matter. Do people still enjoy the books? Sure, at least in the case of JK Rowling (again, I'm not really familiar with Anne Rice). But does that mean there's nothing to be gained from seeing a dissenting viewpoint? I don't think so.

Zoe said...

Lenore, I don't know how you manage to keep up with such an active blog! I had decided just a week ago that it would be fun to post my reviews and general book thoughts on a blog as well as Amazon and LibraryThing, but I think I take it back. I can't even seem to keep up with the comments on one of your posts.

Maggie, I could have sworn I'd read some reviews of Linger already! Do you use LibraryThing? It turns out there are a few (so at least I know I'm not crazy): http://www.librarything.com/work/8330058

Memory said...

I'm embarrassed just reading some of those. But then, I'm the kind of blogger who's far too shy to have much contact with authors. I even feel bad when I write negative reviews, since I know it's entirely possible that the author will swing by and read what I thought of their book. I can't imagine going out of my way to draw the author's attention to a negative review, or asking them for something when I'm not 100% behind the book.

Horserider said...

Great post! I have one question about the first one though: not emailing authors for interviews if you haven't read their book. What if you want to interview an author who's book isn't out yet?

Stephanie said...

Another great post!! Do people actually ask author's to pay for travel expenses to meet them? I don't believe it!

Mindi Scott said...

Very, very interesting post! As a debut author, I have to admit, I learned some things from this!

For example, I've had quite a few ARC requests come to me personally. I just thought that was how it worked and that I am supposed to pass the request on to my publisher. I've never been told otherwise. Ha!

Also, NO ONE has read my book yet, but I don't have a problem with people asking for interviews. I feel like there are more things we can discuss than just the particulars of the story. :-)

Melina said...

That was great advice. Now I know what to do and what NOT to do.

I haven't contacted an author yet, but hopefully soon.

Melina

Jason Henderson said...

Answer to Confused: Speaking from my comics experience but it should be the same: if I reach out to a site hoping they'll do me a favor like a review or whatever, i should expect to hook them up with a book. May come from the publisher or from me, but I owe them a book.

Literary Feline said...

Whew! Fortunately, I don't think I'm guilty of any of those things. Except maybe not letting an author know I'm giving away his or her book. I'll have to remember that for next time--but only if I liked the book. Sometimes I giveaway books I didn't like. I'm sure the author wouldn't care then. Great list, Lenore.

Heather Zundel said...

Lenore, this coupled with your "April Fool's" post make a very interesting (and disturbing) picture of both sides. And from the look of all the comments, it looks like you've struck a chord.

Lenore said...

Zoe - I've heard many cases of big authors not wanting anyone to edit them anymore. If they don't listen to editors, why listen to reviewers? Maybe if it drastically effects sales? I don't know.

And it does take a lot of time to keep up with my blog - for sure! But as a book lover, it's very rewarding :)

Lenore said...

Horserider - Obviously, some authors are going to be ok with giving interviews before you read their book or before their book comes out. I guess the point is to ask politely and accept their answer politely, even if it is a no.

Mindi - I agree that there are a lot of questions you can ask that have nothing to do with an author's actual book. And of course, if some one is doing a sneak preview or an interview about your cat or another author's work or, or, or...you get the picture. There are a ton of exceptions to this "rule".

As far as ARCs go, that is certainly one way to handle it as an author, to tell requesters that you are putting them on a list to pass on to your publicist. That way you let them know it's up to your publicist who gets the limited copies and you don't have to feel so bad that you can't give one to everyone!

Zoe said...

I meant that it was sort of a slippery slope. If you start by reading only positive reviews and ignoring the negative ones, it seems easy to go from there to the assumption that everyone loves your perfect writing and there's no need for an editor.

If authors get enough feedback from their editors etc. and aren't interested in reader reviews, great. But if they do care about reader reviews, then I think they should look at both the good and the bad.

A.S. King said...
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A.S. King said...
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Georgia McBride Books said...

Great post! One thing I disagree with is the -- not interviewing an author if you've not read their book. I see no reason NOT to. In fact, if I have an interest in a book that is coming out or the publisher tells me that I should have an interest, I WANT to talk to the author--all the more reason to. I want to know why I SHOULD read the book. The author is the best resource in the world for why I should run out and pick that book up the day it comes out. The whole purpose of the interview (at least for the author) is to expose the book to as many potential readers as possible. If the interviewer has already read the book and is coming to the discussion as one with pre-knowledge of the book it almost takes the fun out of it for potential readers (the rest of the world). It is a missed marketing opportunity in my opinion.

Other than that, great advice on both sides. I think most peolpe blogging about books are awesome, fun-loving, respeftul and appreciative people who love books! Sometimes, lines get blurred and without regulation or clearly defined rules things can go awry.

Happy blogging-
Georgia McBride

Ann-Kat (Today, I Read...) said...

That is one fine and shocking list, Lenore. Kudos to you for putting it together.

In general, I try to keep my blog more personal and conversational, so I've not encountered many of the problems you mention (*wipes forehead*), but I did make one small flub early on--I emailed an author about getting a copy of her book. In my defense, the book wasn't due out for *months* and it was one of those books that had me doing to peepee dance because I was so eager to read it. Luckily the author was super nice and forwarded my request to her publicist, so it all worked out in the end.

Also, I have to agree with a couple comments about the author interviews if you haven't read an author's book. Sometimes a synopsis of the book is enough to pique my interest and make me want to learn more about the author. Granted, I haven't done many author interviews, but I could certainly come up with a number of interview questions from researching their career (and blog, if they have one).

As far as negative reviews go, I do feel bad when a book doesn't live up to the hype or my expectations, but I would never rub it in an author's face. In fact, I go out of my way *not* to tell the author/publisher (unless they specifically email me and then I'll let them know the review was not flattering and ask if they still wish to see it).

But on the flip side of the coin, I'd think that most authors could benefit from the negative commentary. It's a basic blueprint of what may have gone wrong in their story or plot or writing.

When I write a negative review, I try not to be unduly harsh (and I won't criticize an author personally), but I call it like I see it and do my best to explain what went wrong and why, hoping that an author--should she happen upon it--would take those words (possibly cross-referenced with other negative reviews) and make her next book that much better.

In any event, I do believe I shall print this post and use it as future reference. :D

Booksnyc said...

great post! I am sure much of this bad behavior is done unwittingly (although some seems downright rude!) and its good to have a frank, honest discussion about decorum in book blogging!

Jacquelyn Wheeler said...

Fantastic post! I am so grateful that I have never encountered the bloggers you wrote about and that all of my experiences have been positive. Even when I've gotten less-than-stellar reviews, I love getting the feedback, because there's at least a grain of truth in 99% of all reviews. Thankfully, I have a lot of experience sifting through feedback to glean the useful information (I actually just blogged about this very topic), and I even think the negative reviews are pretty funny, so I appreciate it when a blogger lets me know that they've reviewed my books, good or bad.

I also welcome emails from bloggers, because usually they want to talk about things that really interest me, such as the process of writing or the themes in my books, such as overcoming fears. So if you want to tell an author how much their stories mean to you, I encourage you to email them. They might not have time to reply, but it certainly can't hurt, and it just might make their day.

Lastly, as a self-published author, I want to apologize on behalf of the other self-published authors out there who aren't "potty trained" yet in the etiquette of interacting with bloggers. Self-publishing is a growing and evolving field, and although it drives me a bit crazy that the bad apples are giving the rest of us a bad name, all I can
do is try to serve as an example to others. In fact, I think I feel a blog post coming on... :)

J.T. Oldfield said...

This was a fantastic post! Though I do have a few things to say:

1. I often agree to do a guest post, interview, or giveaway before reading the book (but that's at the time that the book is pitched to me and I accept it). Especially if it's a give away I still do it, because for one thing, I often invite authors (or their various representatives) to send me an extra copy to give away on my blog, because then I can have an international give away, which most publishers won't do.

2. Instead of sending an author a negative review, you should send it to the publisher (in the publicity department). Print publications send every review to the publisher, whether it's positive or negative. While this is a courtesy to the publisher, it's pretty much routine.

J.T. Oldfield said...

ok, I just realized I have a third thing, so...

3. I tweet all of my posts. I might say something like Review of The Sandman: Dream Country by @neilhimself. (this is a bad example because so far I have loved everything by Neil Gaiman, but you get the idea...the point is, I put in the @twittername of the author rather than saying the author's name. That way--and really, I only do this if I know the author's twitter--if someone hadn't heard of the author, they can click on it and see who it is). And why would people retweet a link they hadn't read?

Pam said...

So what you are saying is I can't email Neil Gaiman and ask him if I can have his babies? In web speak of course. My email was going to look similar to this:

oMg neIl i wAnT To hAVE UR baBIEZ!1!1!

:P LOL seriously I can't believe people do that.

Sonora Moon said...

Let's all write Neil and tell him we want to have his babies! lol And then maybe asked for autographed copies of all of his works.

I'm fairly new to book blogging so it was good to read this post. Thanks! Definitely going to keep on eye on your page! : D

Hagelrat said...

hahhaha Ok it's official i'm totally a stalker. I went from an interview with one of my fave authors to exchanging about 30 emails a day and sharing a twin room at world horror.
He sends me his WIPs to keep me placid. ;p

Hagelrat said...

I've been thinking about it some and there are some great points in here but I think I would have missed out on some really great friendships if i'd worried too much about the rules of engagement.
I try to use my own judgement regarding what someone's time constraints might be like but more importantly this is like any new relationship. When engaging with authors, publishers or other bloggers it is important that the level of contact be two way. The other party will engage as much as they are comfortable with and that is a really good guide of what is acceptable. So yeah some authors I talk to almost daily through one medium or another and have a relaxed friendly relationship with, others I have a polite formal relationship with. It's not because some are any less brilliant or lovely as people but because they get to set the boundaries.

Anonymous said...

Here's my exhaustive list of book blogger pet peeves:

1) Canned questions

I just got through with the publicity push for my debut book (which is why I'm posting this anonymously), and going forward, I'm just not gonna do those lazy questions anymore:

"So, tell us a little about your book? about your heroine? about your hero?" Please READ the press kit I sent you, or simply hit Google and you'll find the 50 other times I've answered these questions already.

"How do you think of your characters? What's a day in your writing life like? Do you ever get writer's block? What's your favorite ice cream?" I bet you say this to all the girls. Actually, I KNOW you do, because all your other interviews have the same lazy questions.

I invested a year and a half writing a heady book which easily lends itself to deeper discussion, two more years getting it sold, and a year waiting for it to hit shelves. The LEAST you could do is READ IT and ask me questions ACTUALLY RELEVANT TO THE BOOK. I honestly don't even care if you didn't like it or were puzzled by it -- I'm happy to talk with you about why. That makes for an interesting interview.

Give me six deep questions that show an understanding of my work any day over 45 stupid questions about whether I prefer night or day or coffee or tea.

Oh, I actually have one more pet peeve: "This book really made me think, was beautifully written and will stick with me for years to come. Three stars out of five."

Anonymous said...

Oh, one more pet peeve: Unless you are a giant blog, PLEASE have a single front door for author queries.

Don't make me request and then track a review, interview, feature and chat each from four different 'coordinators' (especially if their names all start with the same first letter because I can't keep them straight) for your 200 follower blog. I'd do this for 'Dear Author' or whatever, but for a small blog, it IS a lot to manage with relatively little gain. Let me make one request and then offer me the coverage you think appropriate.

Wendy said...

Anonymous: I can hear your frustration...but I have to say, your comments put me off a bit because they seem so angry. You do know that book bloggers are not paid to interview you, review your book, etc... right? If you get coverage on a decent size blog with good traffic, that may boost your sales...No blogger HAS to take a book for review or interview an author.

As a book blogger, I try to be courteous to all authors, publishers and publicists - including sending them links to any coverage I give the book on my blog. It takes a lot of time. Often I get a "thank you" but sometimes not. I have sent authors a link to a good review of their book on my blog and heard NOTHING back from them. I know authors are busy...but so are bloggers who often hold down full time jobs, are raising kids, etc... while maintaining an active blog.

Chotti said...

Hopefully, this happens only with newer inexperienced bloggers and they learn from it and stop. I know we all make mistakes, but as long as we learn from them then we can warn others not follow our path.

I'm still surprised about the hotel thing though...

Great post Lenore!

Anonymous, I understand what you mean, but I think bloggers who ask 'fun' questions like coffee and tea, are just trying to showcase your personality to their readers. It may seem lazy, but it's just a means to showcase you.