This post is long overdue, but I have the information that many of you seek!
If you are an author, or maybe just a curious blogger or other publishing-related person, this post will hopefully provide a decent amount of insight about what bloggers are looking for when they interact with authors/publishers/etc.
Back in late December & January, I released this survey for bloggers to answer about their views on how authors + other people should interact to remain respectful. And today, I’m bringing you the results.
I’ve tried to present the most unbiased view I can, but there are things you should note:
- The survey was meant for book bloggers about their interactions with regard to YA traditional publishing.
- I did have to simplify/cut responses in order to make the information more easily digestible. If you want to look at the full set of responses on something, please email me at tinhovercarinice [at] gmail [dot] com and I will get back to you with the raw data as best as I can.
- The survey was anonymous. I cannot confirm that only bloggers responded, although I hope for the best data possible.
- A few bloggers still replied about self-published authors. This is important because I feel like it skews the data a little bit, as a bias against self-pub authors does exist in the traditional publishing book community, unfortunately.
Overall though, I feel like a good sample size was reached (280+ responses) and a lot of valuable information was brought to light.
Ultimately, I hope that this information will be used for good purposes–such as establishing better boundaries about author/blogger interactions and clearing the air about what is and isn’t respectful to do.
We all know that when you post on the Internet, it is out there for anyone to see. But, just because what bloggers do is public and anyone can go into certain spaces, it doesn’t mean that anyone should go into these spaces. Everyone wins when respect and boundaries are established.
So, I hope this information will help everyone! I’ve broken it down question by question, and added some thoughts/analysis/suggestions to each.
(I also apologize that the graphics are not prettier/color-coded. Oops.)
Do you mind if authors follow you?
- “I dislike when it’s obvious they’re only doing it to get me to follow back.” (i.e. following + unfollowing)
- “Following is fine — caveat being that they need to know they may see both positive/negative views on books and related topics.”
- “I don’t mind it but I also don’t expect it.”
- “Depends on personal opinion of the author/if we’ve interacted before.”
From what I’ve seen, most bloggers do like authors following them! I remember that I was so shocked the first time an author followed me–it’s interesting, because when I wasn’t involved with the book community, authors felt really distant. Yet, social media makes everything a lot closer, and I still geek out when someone I admire follows me.
With regards to (1 & 2), I do think that the regular social media etiquette rules apply. Don’t be rude and follow/unfollow. If you follow a blogger, there’s always the chance that a review of your book (or any other content) might come across your feed. That’s how social platforms work.
It’s generally okay to follow people! If you see somewhere on their profile that they say they don’t want authors following them, don’t obviously.
And if they really don’t want you following them, they can always block or soft-block you (block and unblock, so you’re not following them). Although, I personally think it’s good to take the hint and don’t tweet/confront them about it.
Do you mind if authors follow your blog & read your posts?
- “I would’ve picked [orange], but I’m totally okay with ‘Thank you for the review!’ or ‘Glad you enjoyed it!’” (Not really relevant to the question.)
- “It’s fine if they don’t…let me know that they’re doing it, then it feels like saying “hi, i’m watching you””
- “I would only want them visiting my review/blog if I’ve tagged them in something with a link to the review!” (Not really relevant to the question.)
- “Only if I’ve tagged them in a link to the review! I love it if they boost my review, but I don’t want to feel like I need to watch what I say about the book because the author might be listening.”
(Not really relevant to the question.)
- “I’m fine with it, and I’m fine with them commenting…if they only thank me and don’t try to defend their writing or change my mind.” (+2 additional people expressed similar sentiments about “no NEGATIVE comments…Or trying to defend heir book” and “only if it’s not critical of what I think”) (Not really relevant to the question.)
I do think some of the independent responses were confusing “authors following a blog + reading posts” with “authors reading reviews,” which shows up in a later question, so just keep that in mind and remember the overlap.
With regards to (5), this is a “How to Be a Decent Person” sort of thing. Just don’t be rude, and arguing about reviews is…not good. It’s rude to the blogger and it can delegitamize them, because this is supposed to be an honest review, and you’re trying to get unhonest reviews, now.
Similarly, replying negatively is just…not nice.
I agree a whole heckin’ lot with (4), and I personally use tags as permissions for authors to dig around something and interact.
(1) is a great thing to do when you’re tagged. If you’re not tagged, it can delve into (2) territory where it feels like an author is looking themselves up and keeping tabs on people. I think this is where things get blurry (i.e. hearing about authors screenshotting reviews), because although you have a right to read it (it’s public), screenshotting/saving (with a negative connotation) can feel more like a personal thing against the blogger rather than an action of something you’re doing to find info on improving your writing, for example.
I think it’s good to consider whether what you’re doing with reviews is something that is for info + related to the book, or if it’s something being taken personally about you or against the blogger.
This is how Kathleen Hale things happen. Remember, just like the book isn’t the author, the review ALSO isn’t the reviewer.
I think that if the content is not about your book, it’s pretty okay to interact about it and read or follow, but also this is really varied and depends on the blogger.
As a general rule, only reply to things about your book if you are tagged! I use tagging as a signal that “Hey! You can come and read this/reply to this/boost.” But it’s not necessarily relevant to this question, which is (supposed to be) about just following and reading. It’s cool though–there were some good responses.
Do you mind if authors read and/or comment on your review of their book?
- “I don’t want them to comment on negative reviews, but I’m fine if they comment on positive reviews!” +12 with the same sentiment +11 same sentiment, also specifying that they would not tag an author in a negative review
- “What I don’t like is when an author comments on my reviews to defend themselves or to try and guilt me into changing my opinions.” +6
- “I don’t mind if they read, and a quick thanks for reading my book comment is fine— but nothing else.” +3
- (paraphrased) Authors are not obligated to read reviews, but I’d like them to know that someone’s enjoyed it, and it would make me happy if they read my (positive tagged) review! +1
- “I don’t mind though I’d rather have them contact me in private if they want to discuss it.”
- “…would depend on the relationship you have with that specific author.”
- “…from anyone with more power than me, NO.”
- “…I wouldn’t mind them BOOSTING blog posts involving their books.”
- “I don’t mind them commenting on my review in a tweet…but no comments on my actual blog.”
I do think it’s good to note that responders could check multiple, but the pairing between boxes (i.e. if a pairing popped up frequently) was not analyzed.
A lot of people independently replied with variations of (1), and I think the fact that 24 responses talked about this on their own is notable. I feel like the 13 that did not talk about tagging in (1) would not have tagged an author in a negative review, so this implies that bloggers do not feel comfortable when authors comment on negative reviews without being tagged.
(3) is a bit more of a niche opinion, and I’m not sure if it takes into account tagging. I would say that this is more applicable if you weren’t tagged, but this is not certain.
I personally do not agree with (5). Like, at all. That can be a really uncomfortable situation, and if you feel the really strong need to talk to a blogger about their review, don’t do it yourself. Have your literary agent do it. Not you.
(7) is something all authors should keep in mind, because ultimately, most authors have more power than reviewers, and doing something that can put a target on their back is bad.
Ultimately, bloggers understand that their info is public. Anyone can read their posts because it’s online. In general, I’d say that nothing is stopping you from reading reviews (i.e. whether you read your Goodreads reviews is your own preference), but how you respond is important.
My suggestion is to not respond to reviews unless they tag you! Once again, I feel like its a good policy to do that, because it makes bloggers feel safer knowing that authors aren’t searching out their negative reviews.
Do you mind if authors read and/or comment on posts that mention their book, but aren’t reviews?
- “I don’t tag them because I had a negative reaction they shouldn’t comment to make me feel bad about not liking their book.”
- “Only if I tag them and/or give their book praise/hype!” +1
- “Prefer they did not, but if they do, no comments about their book specifically.”
- “As long as they remain respectful and don’t go down a rude path, I don’t mind if they read and comment.” +2
This follows along with previous responses to other questions–bloggers are generally okay if you read their stuff, especially if they tag you! I think it can vary and some are more private than others, so definitely check your relationship (i.e. if you chat a lot, then yeah! it’s probably okay to talk to them about their posts. esp. if they’re sharing it.) before interacting.
I would say, it’s good to let bloggers initiate contact and use this to judge how to interact. How enthusiastic they are when talking with you is a good gauge of how comfortable they are with you reading/replying to their stuff.
Although some bloggers are definitely shy, it’s also just better (in my opinion) to let them show you where their boundaries on interaction lie given how they interact when initiating.
If someone is super friendly, they’ll probably be happy to hear that you enjoyed their recommendation post! If they don’t really talk to you, then you might want to keep more distance.
When do you tag authors in reviews?
I am not including independent responses for this question, because most were redundant.
I mostly included this question to show how much in the minority are bloggers who tag authors in negative reviews.
(If it wasn’t clear to fellow bloggers, don’t tag authors in negative reviews! I know you might want to help people find them, but the payoff of a person finding an author is not enough to offset the emotional stress it can put on an author.)
This justification that it’s so people can find an author (which I’ve just taken apart) and the fact that new bloggers do exist and aren’t familiar with author etiquette yet is why the 1.8% who said “all reviews” and “2+ stars” exist. Know that most bloggers don’t do this.
(However, I do think it’s good to note that things are very very different on Instagram. Beware. You’ll see a pretty picture and BAM. 2 stars.)
Do you want authors to repost your content if you tag them? Do you want authors to acknowledge your content (i.e. thanks for reading!) if you tag them?
ANALYSIS & GENTLE SUGGESTION
This is another thing! Most bloggers like being acknowledged and having their stuff boosted.
I can tell you that some of the things that have made me the happiest are the sincere thank you’s. Penguin sent a video of Astrid Scholte personally thanking me, and that made my entire week. It was just so nice and sincere and it reminded me of why I continue to promote books. Not just because I love them, but for all the wonderful people who put time and effort into writing books.
Authors are not obligated to respond to bloggers. But it is something nice to do, if you have a minute. ❤
Who do you want reaching out about author features? How do you want them to reach out?
This is another case of authors needing to choose their boundaries.
In general, when in doubt, use your email. It’s safe and it keeps a better distance, especially if you aren’t sure how comfortable a blogger is with you.
Also, you can check their review policy on how to reach out! A review policy is a page where a blogger talks about if they’re accepting book review requests and usually feature/interviews. You can usually find this on the menu of their blog.
If a blogger is comfortable with you and you’ve talked and have regularly interacted in a familiar way and they’ve shown interest in your work, then it’s probably okay to DM!
Also, note that a lot of bloggers aren’t used to organizing features. I never thought to reach out to an author about it until I was blogging for over a year. (Thought I was too small + no one cared.)
So some might not have policies on it, in which case, it’s good to ask! Whether it’s about a cover reveal or an interview or something else.
Who do you want reaching out about ARCs? How do you want them to reach out?
The same things I said in the last section apply here, although I do think it’s good to note a small skew due to responses thinking about self-publishing! The stigma against self-pub is real, and I do know that trad pub book bloggers are more forgiving and hold less…unconscious animosity? against trad-pub authors.
It sucks and is something that needs to be dismantled, but that’s a talk for another day.
Besides checking how comfortable bloggers are with you like I mentioned before, I do think sending lists of people who are interested in your book to your publicist is generally a decent idea?
Authors don’t get a lot of ARCs and no one (in trad pub) really expects you to mail all your ARCs out yourself (I think?). But publishers are also kind of notorious for being hard to get in contact with, especially if a blogger has never interacted with them before. So authors sending lists + forwarding emails + throwing their weight in a little can be really helpful, especially when you do this for marginalized bloggers and smaller ones.
This (above) was a little bit of a tangent, but something I think bloggers really appreciate.
Another thing: I have a P.O. Box. My parents pay the big bucks (like, $120 a year) so I can have one to use to maintain some of my privacy.
A lot of other bloggers don’t have that. And publishers usually can’t send to P.O. Boxes. So I have to give out my home address.
But for safety purposes, I normally prefer giving my home address to publicists over authors. It’s not personal, it’s just that Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker and I don’t want that happening to me. No matter how nice you are.
So if your publisher is sending a book to a blogger, maybe put the blogger in contact with a publicist to send their address, rather than them giving it to you! It can give bloggers a lot of peace of mind.
Do you like when authors reach out, or does it make you uncomfortable?
- “I feel a bit weird when they reach out to me directly about ARCs because it creates this awkward atmosphere if I don’t care to accept their book, like I can’t say no.”
- “I like it as long as they’re polite and they’ve read my review policy.” +1
- “I like it most of the time. But if I say no, it’s not for me, or I can’t fit it in, please don’t try to force it upon me.”
- I like it when…
- “I’ve expressed explicitly that I would love a book by them.” +1
- “we already have an established relationship” +1
- “I know the author and have interacted before” +2
- “a title directly aligned with my interests” (with regards to #OwnVoices)
- I don’t like it when…
- (paraphrase) they’re rude +1
- “I disliked their books”
- (paraphrase) Depends on the situation. +5
I think everyone gets the idea now. Don’t force bloggers to do things they don’t want to do, be polite, check around to make sure they’re accepting requests, don’t be rude.
Each situation is different. It’s up to your judgement to see how you should reach out. Don’t bug people about things (i.e. ask on multiple social accounts or send repeated messages). Everyone is just trying their best, and it’s usually pretty easy to figure out if someone is enthusiastic about your book or not, and whether they might want to work with you.
Some other things bloggers want you to know:
- Get our names right! (example: ‘Hey blogger’ or incorrect spellings or just the blog name are all no-no’s)
- Blogging & reviewing takes time and unfortunately, bloggers don’t get paid. This means that ultimately blogging is second to “real life,” so if things are late, it’s not intentional.
- Be polite! Don’t attack (about reviews, or anything else), especially because a power balance exists. A lot of people in the community are also teens and marginalized, and it can be really harmful if you target them.
- Bloggers like being acknowledged/thanked/being told they’re appreciated most of the time! (Even if it’s just a like.) Obviously, we’re not obligated to your time. But a nice message can make someone’s day.
- Try to follow our review policies! You can find them on almost every blog–mine can be found here! These give a good look at how one should interact.
- Reviews are ultimately for readers, not authors.
- Bloggers always appreciate, when collaborating with authors/publishers on content, that the entity boosts the blogger’s work. (i.e. the pub social media boosts their blog tour)
- Talk with your publishers! Refer bloggers if you can!
Bloggers–what else would you tell authors? Authors–was this helpful?
(I’ll hopefully have the authors’ responses compiled next week!)