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.)

Share Button