Monday, May 20, 2013

What the Feck (WTF): Authors Interacting with Readers

What the Feck?! (WTF?!) 
Every Monday we talk about a book related topic 
that had us thinking WTF?! while reading a book 
or talking to others in the book community.

Authors Interacting with Readers

by Jonetta (Ejaygirl)


I was in a lively discussion recently in one of my Goodreads groups. The topic involved authors reacting or commenting on readers' reviews. No, this is NOT another discussion about readers or authors behaving badly!

There have been lots of discussions about authors responding to negative reviews and most agreed that authors would be better served by just ignoring these and staying out of the fray. There's very little to be gained and lots at risk for an author to engage in these situations.

There was a bit of a split, however, on authors engaging with the reader on positive reviews. I still think it is prudent practice to limit comments to "liking" a review or saying "thanks" or "glad you enjoyed it" unless the reader/reviewer has first reached out to the author.

Some others in the discussion liked having an author initiate communication with them about a review, positive or negative, as long as the interaction was respectful and thoughtful.

I really like writers and will always be grateful for the pleasure and enjoyment they've brought me, past, present and undoubtedly in the future. My point of view is completely from the perspective of protecting these writers. With a few exceptions, most of those who entered into a discussion with reviewers about a negative review aren't bad people; they were misguided and ended up seriously suffering from their errs in judgment. The risks for initiating interaction, IMHO, are far greater than any perceived benefit.

Social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) offer readers and reviewers an excellent opportunity to engage with authors in appropriate ways. Book sites like Goodreads and Shelfari also provide means for them to connect beyond book reviews. And, blogs like this one give readers an opportunity to learn more about authors of interest and engage during interviews, guest posts and the like.

I love interacting with authors and most came from my initiation (except for requests to review a book and I'm excluding these type of interactions from this discussion) either through emails, twitter, Facebook or book sites. These are private discussions most of the time and they've had an opportunity to get to know me. Most love hearing from readers and enjoy the feedback.

I firmly believe that the intended audience for reviews are other readers. Should an author read them? Why not, I know I'd find it hard to resist. Even the less positive ones have something to offer (most of the time) when the reader shares from the heart. Now here comes the big BUT....I don't believe an author should ever comment on these reviews other than what I stated above. The rewards are small and career risks immeasurable.

Where are you on this topic? 
Am I being too conservative?
Do you have another point of view?
We'd really love to get your perspective.


  1. For me, the point of a review is HONEST feedback from that reader's perspective. While I get a warm fuzzy when an author "likes" my review or tweets, FaceBooks, etc. a link to it, I feel that personal perspective from the author should be kept between author and reviewer and not displayed on open commentary. Not every reader will relate to and love every book. Authors put so very much into their work and that needs to be respected. Most reviewers do the same. (At least I hope they have the integrity to do so.)
    I learned in the military to never critique the person, but to be fair about the work. I carry this lesson into every aspect of life. It saddens me to see the drama happening on both sides.
    Thank you for the thought provoking post on such and emotional subject for readers and authors!

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Kindle Jo. Your point about authors putting so much of themselves into the work is something I keep in my head every time I write a review:)

  2. I agree 110%. I recently had an author comment on a "review" of mine for a book I DNF'ed. It was just a few sentences why I didn't finish, and the author was very polite and everything but still it was an extremely uncomfortable situation for me and her as well (I assume).

    1. That had to have felt awkward, neither of you ending up in a good place.

  3. I agree. I do love when an author will read and comment on a review I've written on my blog, but usually it is only something simple like "glad you liked it". And that I think is okay.

  4. I love authors! I really really do and I love interacting with them.

    However, I prefer them not to react to reviews (on my page) at all. I don't want to even remotely have in my head that they might see it when I write them. I don't want it influencing my decision or what I write. It is why I don't tag them when doing reviews with their twitter handles. I just prefer it to be some random link on the web that I can pretend they never see. I also don't want other readers to feel like they can't have a frank discussion about the book in the comments (not that my blog really gets that kind of thing). :) That being said, all the ones that have stopped by are super sweet (even when I didn't really like their book) so I have had zero bad experiences.

    Though as an author (which I am not) I imagine it is all quite confusing. Some people love it and others don't.

    1. I agree, Felicia. I'm sure it may be confusing and even though I don't mind, there are some really bad situations an author can get hung up in. Every time I hear about a viral situation I just cringe and keep my fingers crossed for the writer.

  5. I'm okay with authors commenting on my actual blog review, if it's a thanks so much type of comment. I actually love that, I also love the tweets from authors too. If an author wants to correct a misconception or spelling or something, email me or just ignore my review. Basic philosophy: if you can't say something nice, don't say anything, anywhere. I do my best to write respectful reviews (even the less-than-glowing reviews), and I appreciate respect in return. Book Savvy Babe

  6. I agree. I think that authors should use book review sites as tools. Absolutely read what people are thinking about your work. If you don't like it, that's what your support circle is for. Talk to your family, friends or author groups.

    I'm of a split mind on the commenting. Even if it is to say thank you. I personally don't mind it but one blogger mentioned that it can stymy conversation. If an author has already commented, chances are good he or she is subscribed to follow up comments. If a blog follower wanted to comment on your review but didn't love it as much as you did, they may hesitate to reach out because the author may read the comment.


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