My Thoughts on Author/Blogger Angst and Social Media Drama


This has been a drama-filled week on the Internets. Lots of stuff on Twitter linking to a couple of blog posts with comments that kicked up a hornet’s nest of good ol’ social media angsty yumminess. The Internets loves a good viral shit storm and without going into too much detail here’s what’s happened:

We all know about the STOP THE GOODREADS BULLIES website and that simmering heap of insanity

Last month, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch commented on a review of his book over at The Book Smugglers and that ignited a massive controversy which still froths and bubbles away on Twitter. Aaronovitch this week Tweeted that he reserves the right to comment on any review or discussion of his work in any open blog or forum, so, you know, he’s not backing down.

There was this posting over at Strange Horizons website that is still being talked/argued about all over the Interwebs.

Two weeks ago, former rock star literary agent and now author Nathan Bransford got steamrolled in a poop storm about this post the STOP THE GOODREADS BULLIES dealio. 

So I’m not going to offer any miracle insights into why there is much author/blogger angst and social media flare-uppyness other than to say that it’s probably going to continue to happen as the competitive thrusts of the book industry & the increased requirement for authors (who should be writing) to be taking on the lion’s share of the marketing of their books (which is really the publisher’s job) seems to create a fertile ground for social media brain melt.

Do I think authors should comment on blog reviews of their work? Nope. Do I agree that reviews are for readers and not authors? Nopey-nope. Authors are readers too. Do I think anyone is 100% right in this whole kerfuffle? Nope. I’d posted this over at Sons of Corax in the comment section:

1) If a blogger doesn’t want an author to post comments on a book review, put up a sign saying so.
2) If an author decides to post comments on a book review when the aforementioned sign is clearly visible, then he/she deserves to have flaming monkey poo thrown at him/her.
3) If a blogger is writing reviews for something like, say, Kirkus Reviews, they are part of the industry dynamic.
4) If a blog is taking part in a blog tour and hosting a giveaway, it’s promotional for the author and therefore, part of the industry dynamic.
5) 99.9999999999999% of Planet Earth doesn’t read blogs
6) 99.9999999999999% of the book buying public doesn’t read book blogs
7) Authors are basically neurotic and we all read our reviews, even when we say we don’t.
8) This kerfuffle wouldn’t be happening if there wasn’t so much emphasis on authors doing the lion’s share of book promotion when they should be, you know, writing books.
9) This is going to continue to happen. Just watch. Two weeks ago Nathan Bransford chimed in about GR bullying and a dog pile ensued:
10) Comment sections filled with bad behavior is nothing new. Flame wars exist every single day in the comments section of a gajillion blogs, forums, online media, newspapers, you name it.
11) The dynamic is such that “one must prove they are right” at all costs. The anonymity of not sitting in front of the person you disagree with promotes bad behavior on the part of both sides.
12) I have not seen any empirical evidence that shows a dramatic upturn in book sales because of book blogs that review – I could be wrong – but I just haven’t seen it.
13) Most book bloggers do it for funzies.
14) Many active bloggers want to be taken seriously as literary critics. Literary critics in traditional media have an editor, bloggers don’t. Chew on that one for a bit because part of the job of an editor is to call you on the quality of your writing as well as the context of what you are trying to convey.
15) I am going to get my umbrella now as I expect to wind up showered in flaming monkey poo.

Seeing as how 99.999999999% of humanity has never heard of book bloggers, Goodreads, etc, I suspect they would think we’re all batshit crazy if they knew about ALL. THIS. ANGST.

Let’s all be friends and move on … m’kay? We’re all struggling breathlessly trying to figure out this whole new digital age publishing paradigm that keeps changing on a daily basis. Social media is still a shiny new thing that everyone is trying to figure out and while author/blogger angst might make for some entertaining if not frustrating light social media reading when these flare-ups occur, we should all remember that we all love freaking books! We all have a stake in the success or failure of every book that gets published and right now the entire publishing industry is gasping for air over the sheer magnitude of what this new paradigm truly means and what the end-game of all this change will be.

Just, everyone chill out. We’re all on the same side here – we love books. We authors love bloggers. We love interacting with readers and I’m sure that bloggers love interacting with authors.  Frankly, the shrillness of the last two week’s events, the scale of the righteous indignation from both sides is a little bit staggering at times. Authors who comment on reviews of their work, do so at their peril. Bloggers who go apeshit when an author comments on a review aren’t doing book blogging any favors either.

Breathe, everyone. Now let’s get back to normalcy because the fact is, nobody wins when everyone is taking sides. Move on.

Peace out, yo. (As my son says.)

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Posted September 19, 2013 by Sean Cummings in category "Blog


  1. By SharonS on

    lol, I LOVE that monkey graphic!! and yes, I run a blog for funzies I have been real lucky and no author has ever called me out on a review. Everyone of them says don’t worry about not liking that book, hope you will try my next. If I’m gonna give anything lower than a 3 star I contact the author and let them know… I don’t know if they like this or not… I do it because for some reason, if I was an author, I would like a heads up about a bad review.

  2. By Ryan on

    “taking on the lion’s share of the marketing of their books (which is really the publisher’s job)”

    You don’t know much about publishing, do you? Only the bestsellers really get marketing help from publishers. The majority of published authors are required to do much of the marketing themselves. If you want to learn more about his, try reading the Passive Voice and you’ll see some of the author stories that talk about this.

      1. By Ryan on

        Only five? Uh, yeah, I’d say you still have quite a bit to learn. Wait until you’re at book 35.

      2. By Ryan on

        And your books are self-published. I wasn’t referring to self-publishing above. I was referring to traditional publishing. When you’ve had 35+ book published through traditional publishers, then you will be more informed as to what traditional publishers actually do. If you really want to know, go ask some of the seasoned professionals out there who know. They will all tell you to a person that you, the author, are responsible for marketing your books and hence are responsible for your own career.

        1. By Sean Cummings (Post author) on

          My books aren’t self published. Perhaps you’d missed that when you decided to whip it out and show the world how big yours is. Last warning.

          1. By SharonS on

            Didn’t realize there would be a cock fight… (Was that too crude? You can delete if you want, you know why? Cause it is your blog! 🙂
            I got a real easy math problem this time! 1x _=1

          2. By Heather on

            I’m afraid Ryan is right. Publishers don’t do much marketing for authors unless you’re a bestseller. It is well known that many authors are required to do the marketing for themselves. It is also true that no matter if you’re self-published or trade published, you are responsible for your own career.

            Also, I don’t think Ryan is a troll for expressing an opposing view on a blog. You seem to be the one who started the cock fight, Sean. Five books is the mark of a beginner. Thirty-five is someone who’s been around the publishing world for a while. Instead of dismissing him as a troll, maybe you could stop and listen to what he has to say.

          3. By Sean Cummings (Post author) on

            Sorry to disagree, Heather. Lots of evidence out there to suggest that publishers aren’t doing enough to market their books and even more about the vast majority of marketing being left in the author’s hands. Tons of it. The interesting thing is that publishing is a business, publishers want ROI. They have marketing departments (the big ones) and publicists (the little ones). Both have budgets to market the books. The people with no marketing budgets are the authors who are producing the stuff that keeps publishers doors open. Call me crazy, but that isn’t a strong recipe for profitability at all. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons that 70% of books published each year don’t earn out their advances.

            As for the troll matter, A comment beginning with a sarcastic “Uh, yeah,” is generally troll language. Also, it’s my website and my blog and I keep the bar set extremely low for bad behavior.

            Interesting how you and Ryan both have IP addresses from Salt Lake City Utah. Odd, that.

            Have a good day.

          4. By Ryan on

            Not odd at all. I know her. I was the one who pointed her to your post.

            Good to see you can admit the facts about publishers and marketing.

  3. By Ryan Field on

    Nice post, and some good insights. I wasn’t going to comment, but wanted to make it clear I’m not the Ryan who left the comment above 🙂 I remain objective about these things all the time. And I had to do math to get the comment published 🙂

    1. By SharonS on

      I know Ryan! I had to freaking break out the fingers and toes to solve mine!

  4. By Derryl Murphy on

    My favorite thing in all this mess is now officially Ryan’s comprehension skill set. I don’t even care about anything else. I will say though that if I’ve ever commented on a review of one of my books, it’s been with a note of thanks and perhaps a note of correction if some factual error (that actually means something) has creeped into the review.

    1. By SharonS on

      Derryl, that is one of the most embarrassing things as a reviewer (at least to me). Typos happen, but getting facts mix up and having the author contact me to let me know *headdesk*. Using an ereader makes it very hard to ‘flip’ back through to fact check events or the order in which things happened. Having a PDF on an ereader and forget it! You can’t highlight with those. If I am in doubt I will send authors the review ahead of time to ask if I got things correct.

      and spelling the authors name wrong!? been there done that!


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