Etiquette When Responding to Authors
Yes, yes, we always rave and slightly fangirl out when responding to authors whose books have a little niche in our bookworm hearts, but I’m not talking about those authors.
I’m talking about the rude, condescending, criticizing authors.
What is the proper book blogger etiquette when responding to these less-than-desirable authors?
This thought came to me after receiving an email from an author I’d previously reviewed, and it set the wheel in motion for me to start thinking of this. I have two serious cases that I’m going to use as examples where this has happened and it’s left me in a confused conundrum as to how to respond appropriately. (Let me tell you, I know how I really want to respond!)
Right when I really started getting into blogging (as in, I was like, “Book blogging! YEEEAAAH! I’m doing this!” … not as in, “I know what I’m doing!”), I was super excited to work with an author…whose agent totally flopped on me just days before. Completely flopped. I had no interview, no guest post, no content the night before a series of posts and the review.
I found the author on Facebook and contacted him. I hadn’t received responses from his agent in over about two weeks trying to contact her. I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t want to be a mess-up.
He sent back a reply that he’d get in touch with his agent, but he was very condescending and snarky. The impression that my little piddly review and promotion of his book did not matter one iota to him wafted from the patronizing and disdainful sentences right out of the screen of the computer and hit me like a slap in the face.
When I received the response from this author, I felt diminished. I felt that my efforts and contributions didn’t mean diddly squat. I didn’t feel very good about myself, at all. As a person or a blogger. ESPECIALLY a baby blogger.
It left a very bad taste in my mouth, and I was very tempted to scratch the entire thing – three days’ worth of content – but I’d already promoted it quite a bit.
How do you respond to that? Do you maintain politeness? Should I have fully stated I was not obligated to go through with the review or any other content? Would that have made me a jerk?
I am of the opinion that as book bloggers, or really any type of constructive blogger, we are doing someone else a favor…whether it’s an author, a product or company, the stay-at-home mom who needs more fun activities to do with the kids, the men who are DIY’ing their way to master craftsman or honey-doing it around the house, or the hair and make-up challenged girls like me. (Not that I have any time to read all those awesome and illustrated how-to’s. Seriously, can we have more time, please?)
I don’t even know if I did respond to this author. I don’t have a record of it, probably because I was so angry I deleted it.
I reviewed a couple books for an author, and when my reviews published the author emailed me. Several times, in fact.
He wanted me to change my review, in a multitude of ways: extremely dissected and analyzed revisions of my paragraphs and, as he stated, to fix the information regarding a character relationship because I must have not understood that.
I was astounded. And the emails just kept coming. It’s like the man had absolutely nothing better to do than read and re-read my reviews day after day and find every single nuance of a flaw. Not to mention the criticism of my reviews!
Yes, I corrected the typos, for which I was grateful that he pointed out to me…just not in the way or manner that he did so. It was not kind or gracious in the least. THE ENTIRE REVIEW, DISSECTED PARAGRAPH BY PARAGRAPH. TIMES TWO!
There are some of us who are say-la-vie about typos, and some of us who are mortally embarrassed by typos. There are some of us who don’t proofread before posting, and those of us who do proofread. I am the proofreading, mortally embarrassed kind of blogger, but after hours at a computer everything starts to blend together. No matter which of these we are, our works that we publish are not meant to be subjected to an overzealous editor.
When it came to changing content of my review, particularly the character relationship, I stood firm and did not change it (and I did not say anything to him about it at all). I gave a very glazed and glossed description of this particular relationship between the two characters in order to maintain the integrity of the story and the enjoyability of the readers. I did so because otherwise it would have been a major spoiler and definitely ruined it for everyone. I’m not really into that. At all.
I thanked the author for his edits, but I eventually ignored his continuing emails and stopped responding. Shortly after, when another book released, he emailed again and asked if I’d review it. I never responded.
Was this the right thing to do? Should I have been more polite and given a “thank you, but please desist” kind of response? Should I have been more forceful in protecting the integrity of my blog and my review?
Recently he emailed me again and asked for me to review a new book. I declined to review his book because of my very strenuously available time, my recent and questionable health issues, but mostly because he was so utterly rude in the past.