Editor’s Note: If you were mentioned in this blog post and would like to be taken out, please contact me, I would be more than happy to accommodate your request.
Writing is one of those tasks that people always think is a very anti-social career and hobby, but in reality, today’s age has made it a more social activity.
Due to the internet, authors have a lot of avenues in regards to interacting with their fans and peers. Twitter being one of the more popular social media platforms I believe with a healthy addition of almost any other platform they can incorporate.
Back in the day, I think it was a lot easier for authors to just write but also harder since it wasn’t as easy to be self published.
Blogging has really changed the game for authors in the past 15 years, especially with the rise of Goodreads into such a cornerstone of books and writing on the internet. Although blogging can have a lot of positive benefits for authors, it can have a lot of negative consequences as well.
If you love books, you’ve probably read a lot of book reviews now and seen a lot of blog tours. These are great opportunities to learn more about authors and their books, especially if you want to purchase a book. Bloggers can also share their reviews on Goodreads and rank the books.
To be fair, Goodreads has a lot of flaws despite it being such a large and popular platform. One of their biggest flaws I think it the ability for any reader to rate a book before it’s been published and not have any moderation to what they can write.
This leads to a lot of nonsense reviews where people post things like, “I can’t wait!” or “I hate this author and their writing, don’t ever read it.”
Reviews like those I believe needs to be cracked down on. They’re not fair to readers and other reviewers. Not to mention how awful for the authors of these stories. Reviews like those should be reserved for Twitter.
Back in August, I saw some drama happen between an author and a book blogger on Twitter. A lot of authors and bloggers hopped on it to share their thoughts.
The account was the setting off point for this whole thing and I read the author’s tweet as well. A friend of mine shared that when she was publishing one of her books, the books blogger was supposed to review her book for the blog tour. However, she polietely reached out to my friend and asked if there was something else they could work on since the book wasn’t the right fit for Fadwa to review.
Well apparently this author got mad about a bad review and went on a long rant on her Twitter which then eventually was seen by Fadwa who figured out that the author was talking about her. Then when she got more heat, the author deleted her tweet (and eventually kinda apologized from what I saw).
I’m of the opinion badmouthing and whining on social media is never a good idea unless you actually are doing it for a very good reason.
Taking down especially awful people? Great.
Digging through social media to bring up every single awful thing someone has done to cancel them? Mixed feelings. Doing it so that they will repent and grow as a person? Cool.
Taking down your fans for no particular reason other than they hurt your feelings? Not okay.
Going after someone even though you have much more power socially and influentially than them? Also not okay.
I like the advice here: you can still rage in private, just don’t do it publicly. Not everyone will like your work, which always feels harsh when our books are basically our children. If you aren’t going to be able to handle criticism, the best you can do is stay away from reviews entirely.
I’m of the opinion that BIPOC are underrepresented everywhere and if having Netgallery send them books because of it, I’m totally fine with it. We need more diversity in book publishing! However no book blogger I know is doing this for anything other than they love books.
I totally agree with these tweets. Just because a blogger gets a free ARC for them to review doesn’t mean they have to leave a good review. No reviewer is obligated to enjoy a book regardless of how they obtained it.
I would actually say that having an assortment of mixed reviews is actually better for a book sale’s because your readers can get a realistic expectation of the book before they read it. I have read books before that were insanely hyped up but then when I read it, I was even more disappointed that I didn’t like it as much as I was expecting too.
I usually don’t read reviews of books until after I’m done reading and reviewing unless I am really unsure about a book or am confused about something. I don’t like to be influenced when I write my reviews.
However, I think most people feel the same way that if you read a bad review of a book it won’t cause you to not read it. However, authors calling out reviewers will look bad. The only case this wouldn’t is if the reviewer said or did something so awful it was unforgivable.
Now I want to talk about boundaries I think published authors should consider.
Even if you’re self-published, I believe that authors have a lot of influence over their audience and even if they’re not well known, should act as if they are. We have seen so many cases of famous authors (coughshewhoshallnotbenamedcough) causing unnecessary drama and pain upon their readers and audience.
While their careers can probably withstand it, smaller authors mostly likely cannot and need to be very careful.
I’m always of the opinion that it’s better to be cautious online with what we say and do. You never know when something you said eight years ago will resurface and cause drama. That’s not to say you can’t ever share your opinion online, but if you realize later on that you said something that wasn’t great, it’s important to own up to it and grow from it.
Like Jenna Marbles. She is arguably one of the most famous Youtubers out there and before anyone called her out, recognized that she had made some bad content when she was younger. She called herself out first and then took herself offline in order to show that she understood the consequences of her actions.
Thinking about the way these two famous content creators handled controversy, I think it’s important for authors to understand the amount of power and influence publishing brings with it.
Even if we self-publish, to aspiring writers, that’s a huge accomplishment. The words and actions we take from then on become public knowledge and it’s important we show respect to our fans and readers.
We should be aware that our words on social media will be seen and heard. And even if we don’t intend to harm someone (or have them see it and know they were being badmouthed), our actions have consequences.
Authors have more influence and power than book bloggers do, even if they have thousand of followers. Traditionally published authors have a company and agents behind them which often gives them even more power.
Bad reviews are never fun, but it’s important to respect them. If you know you can’t take the heat, don’t read them. Don’t interact with them. Don’t publicly call it out.
In the case of our fans and readers, we have become more accessible on the internet. Some fans might start to feel as if we are their personal friends. It’s never okay to let a fan or reader harass an author or abuse them. But the same can be said for authors.
As authors it’s bound to happen that someone will write fanfiction of our work. While fan fiction is a gray area for many of us, there are times when it’s harmless and other times when it’s not.
So authors must be aware of the different ways our audience interacts with us and our work. They should take the time to understand the ways in which their words will go far beyond their page. Especially if you’re a self-published author, you are doing everything yourself, so take the time to educate yourself about stuff like this.
With a bit of self-awareness and self-control, we can be better equipped to handle situations when they arise. We can learn to establish better boundaries for ourselves and for our readers.
Ultimately we are all people at the end of the day and make mistakes. We are always constantly learning and growing. Having compassion on ourselves and others is so important.
Social media and the internet isn’t the end-all-of-be-all, but we can learn to how use it effectively and better. It can either help our careers or harm them. As writers we do not live in a bubble anymore, we are still social creatures at the end of the day.
My best advice I can give to my fellow authors is this:
- Be cautious of what you share on social media. Your personal information especially.
- If you think something will sound bad, let someone else read it first who can give you a different viewpoint. Don’t seek out confirmation bias if you can help it.
- Own up to mistakes and be willing to change and grow.
- If you get upset about something someone said about your work, take a deep breath. Walk away. Don’t respond in the heat of the moment (personal attacks on an author’s character based off their books however I don’t think are okay). Consider not responding at all.
- If you can’t say anything nice, it’s better not to say anything at all.
- Hire a social media expert or PR rep. if you feel the need to be extra cautious. They will know the best ways to handle situations like these.
- Be aware of what you’re sharing and how your work has ripples beyond you for good or bad.
- If you’re uncomfortable about something, speak up. Set boundaries for yourself and others.
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