Thursday, October 7, 2010

Authors - To Stalk or not to Stalk?


I had the opportunity to talk to a fellow blogger recently about blogging in general, and one of the topics we chatted about was whether or not to contact authors when we post reviews of their books. My friend e-mails the author and says "hey, just wanted to let you know I liked your book and here's my review", or just "I like your work".

I have to be honest with you - I didn't think we could do that. I mean, yes, of course I know you can do it, but I always saw it as "bothering" the authors; I didn't think they wanted to be disturbed by fans. I guess my thought is that they're in the public eye and therefore are bombarded with ridiculous requests and communication, and get so much mail that they don't have time to write, which is what they'd really like to be doing. I recently saw a note from an author that said "Readers, please keep the e-mails coming, I appreciate each one" and that really surprised me (in a good way).

So now I'm conflicted. Currently, if I write a review, I post it here and Goodreads and that's it. I don't @ the author on twitter and I don't e-mail them my review. I've seen so many say "I don't read reviews of my work" so I suppose I figured it was pointless. If I'm being perfectly honest (and totally nerdy), I get very nervous when I do contact an author for whatever reason. I recently sent a favorite author a request to sign my copy of her book. It took me months to psych myself into doing it, and I started the e-mail with "Please feel free to say no without feeling guilty, I'll totally understand if you can't..." <---I've done this about 3 times and I'm still freaking nervous every time :)

I started this blog because I love to read romance and I wanted to communicate with other like-minded readers - I never in a million years thought I'd have the opportunity to interact with authors as well; it just blows my mind.

Am I wrong about all of this? Should I be sending authors my favorable reviews of their work? Do they want e-mails from fans or is it a distraction? What are your experiences?


33 comments:

  1. Hi Patti - Well, I'm not an author, but I am a reviewer. I usually let authors know if I've reviewed their book. Also, I'm the queen of the gushy email. If I've loved a book, I can barely wait to send the author a note letting them know I loved it.

    All of the feedback I've gotten from authors has been positive. I may not get comments on the review from the author, but I usually at least get a note back saying "Thanks."

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  2. I'm very much like you Patti. Why would they want to hear from me? They're busy people, they have a life, I don't want to bother anyone. And yet I hear authors all the time say they squee when they get e-mails (well good ones LOL).

    I don't tell authors when I review their books. Mostly because I don't do full review like some sites but generally authors who have google alerts find their reviews on my site or maybe they don't look purposely. Hard to say. I review for Torquere and they post all the books I review so those authors can seek them out if they wish. Some comments but probably less than a quarter. I try to be nice, but honest if something didn't work for me. Rarely do I HATE a book so I'm not too concerned.

    But yeah, we probably should sent a note to let authors know when we LOVED their work. I'm also thrilled that I've gotten to be what I would consider on-line friends with some authors. Who'd have thunk it. I still have them up there on their pedastal a bit, but it is so cool. :-)

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  3. Hey Patti :)

    I'm probably not the best person to ask, since I'm a newbie, an e-pubbed author, and don't have an enormous following. But speaking "for myself" I can say that positive emails can make me want to continue writing when I've been staring at the screen for hours instead of wondering why I even bother. I suppose it's an affirmation that there is someone out there that enjoys what you do, which pushes you to keep going.

    I've been told I'm more personable than some authors. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing. I'm a people person who loves to chat, so I have no issues talking to anyone about anything. With that said, other authors with a successful career might be too busy to respond. I'm not sure.

    Funny enough, I've emailed/mailed two of my favorite authors (Christine Feehan and Kelley Armstrong) and both were very gracious. In fact, Kelley sent me some book plates, bookmarks, and other things when I sent her a letter telling her just how much I enjoyed Bitten.

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  4. Oh, almost forgot...Joey W. Hill, who I LOVE, always responds to emails. She is the standard I hold myself to. It's amazing to see someone like her, who is well loved and known, making time for her readers. ;-)

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  5. You know, I'd feel that way about bugging them in person (other than an event like a book signing), but email is very different because they can read it at their leisure. Almost every author I've ever been in contact with has been very appreciative of positive feedback -- either a good review, or even just a gushing fangirl email (yes, I've sent a few). Some are too busy to give a detailed reply, but some will happily strike up a conversation. It all depends on the author, but in my experience they generally LOVE to get praise for their hard work. I mean, who doesn't, right? And don't forget, they may want to use your positive review in their marketing materials, so letting them know about it can be very helpful. (let me tell you, there's nothing quite like the feeling you get when you see YOUR words on the inside cover page of a favorite author's new book!)

    Go for it!

    ~Lindy

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  6. I've discovered that most authors are following their reviews on Goodreads, so if you post your review there and the author is interested in reading reviews s/he will probably see it. Or at least they do in the m/m romance world - but it is a much smaller and more cozy community than a lot of other genres.

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  7. I just re-read what I posted and thought I should add that I wouldn't be in favor of actually "bugging" them at book signings or anywhere else... (*visualizing creepy back yard stalkers*) LOL!

    ~Lindy

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  8. Hi Patti -- Interesting topic.

    I enjoy visiting and reading author websites, and most seem most appreciative of feedback on their work. I've never sent them notice of a review, but I have had an author "find" my review of her book (I assume with a google search) and she very kindly left a comment thanking me for my thoughts on her book. (I had given it a 4 out of 5 star review.)

    I think if you are a fan of an author (whether a "big name bestselling" author or a newer or lesser-known author) it's certainly appropriate to send them an e-mail to let them know you enjoy their work, and leave the name of your blog along with your name. That way, if they'd like to visit your blog and read your review, they can. If not, they've at least received a nice fan letter, and who can complain about that?

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  9. Hi, Patti —

    There's a difference between fan mail or a business conversation and "stalking." Letting an author know you like her work or that you've posted a review is definitely not stalking.

    I'm an author, and I always appreciate hearing from bloggers/reviewers. I don't necessarily need the gushy email of your friend (although I love to be gushed over as much as the next person), but a simple comment that the review is up is wonderful: "I just posted a review of your book at url and thought you'd like to know."

    I have Google alerts set up, of course, but the spiders don't always catch new reviews right away, so it's nice to know they're out there.

    And, Patti, you can ask me for bookmarks or signed bookplates any time you want. I even have instructions on how to do it at my site.

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  10. I'm like you, Patti! I only let authors who requested a review know that my review is up, but hardly ever contact authors other than for that. I'm shy. :)
    But when authors have a blog I sometimes leave them comments to let them know I enjoyed their books.
    Great topic!

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  11. Patti, this is a great topic! I don't think there is really a right or wrong here. I don't think you owe authors any kind of notification when you review their work, but a book is also a kind of conversation, and a review can be part of that, so if you feel like engaging an author, you should. As an author, though a newbie, I let a reviewer set the tone - I don't religiously follow Google and almost never look at Goodreads, so I'll engage with reviews that reach me, but I don't know about every one out there.

    Little emails that say somebody has enjoyed my work totally brighten my day. Certainly nobody owes that to an author - investing the time to read an author's work in this busy day and age is huge on its own! But just imagine if you got an unexpected email complimenting you on something. Totally awesome!

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  12. I guess it's up to the person, I could never do it. Only if the author asks me for a review

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  13. You should be e-mailing me all the time. That's my opinion. :D

    Okay, okay, kidding! (Mostly. What, you're fun!)

    In all seriousness, I think very few authors would be bothered by an e-mail praising one of their books. It's the sort of thing that can make an otherwise bad day brighter, and can keep us going. So do it, and know that you're appreciated for it. :D

    As to whether or not to e-mail review links. Well, I certainly don't think you should feel OBLIGED to. But if you enjoyed the book, and you WANT to send it, go for it!

    The only time I don't enjoy being contacted directly about a review is when the reviewer really, really disliked the book. I'm not talking, "It had flaws and I disliked X and Y" but "I wanted the heroine to die in the most painful way possible and maybe get eaten by rabid wolves, that's how much this book blew." (Not that that's not a perfectly valid opinion...just maybe don't go out of your way to make sure I don't miss it. :p)

    But that aside...no really. It's all good. Any attention a reader wants to give me above and beyond just buying my book is nothing but appreciated. (And I loved sending you books and would do it again!)

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  14. If I absolutely love a book I will email/contact the author to let him/her know. So far all of them really appreciated it and any claims of me stalking any of them aren't true ;-)

    I do not let every author know I posted a review, but discovered most authors who want to read reviews of their books manage to find my reviews anyway.

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  15. I've only done it 2 or 3 times. Once was because the author got me the book and I felt like he should know that I really liked it. Most of the time when I hear back from authors it's because they've found my review on their own...I guess through google alerts or their own name searches.

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  16. If I really loved an authors book, I would email them my review or at least tweet it to them. Other than that, I usually forward my review to the publishers.

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  17. Stalk me! Stalk MEEEEE! LOL

    I love hearing from fans and from reviewers. It's nice to have the head's up that someone's done a review -- I publicize them via my subscribers newsletter, at my blog, and on my website, so it's great to know when something new is going up.

    I suppose my publisher (DAW/Penguin) would like to know about reviews directly, but if you, as a reviewer, are expecting the publisher to TELL the author they got a review, well...it doesn't happen. I mean, they send the really good ones from really influential sources (when Touched by an Alien got the starred review in Booklist, believe me, they sent that to me -- but I already knew about it because the reviewer had sent me an email directly, God love her) but if you're not a "name" reviewer, I think they just add them to the "this is nice and good" file. I certainly don't know about them, and I'd guess most other authors don't either.

    My personal rule is that I don't comment on reviews because I feel weird saying anything when someone's giving a review (probably critique training) and I don't want to affect the outcome or color someone's judgment. Plus, if I say "Oh goody" for a good review and then ignore a bad one, again, I feel weird about it. And no, I'm just not a big enough person to say, "Wow, thanks for your honest, brutal ripping of my book I'm so proud of. I particularly enjoyed your comparing my writing to that of a retarded, hyperactive sloth; awesome turn of phrase!" So I don't comment. But I read every, single one. Yes, even the bad ones. (Yes, because I cannot stop myself from doing it.)

    So, obligated to let an author know? No, not at all. Do the majority of authors LIKE to know? I'd have to go with "Yes, a lot." For those of us who have freebies up on our websites, it's not stalking to ask for the bookplates, cover flats, and so on -- that's why we have them up there. Most authors are like most readers -- we like to talk to the people who like what we like, and if you like our books, why, we LOVE to talk to you about said books.

    In closing, if you can only stalk one author...stalk me. I like it.

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  18. I'm with you Patti. I always thought if the blogger wanted the author to make a comment on the review you would send to the author. Now for review requests I *sometimes* will email the author since they requested for me to write a review and mainly its to say, yes, I read your book and didn't forgetzies.

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  19. I don't know what happened to my earlier comment! Darn work-I probably forgot to hit enter or something. I can honestly say I never thought to email an author that I've reviewed their book.

    I feel uncomfortable @ their name on twitter as well, unless it's an author I've talked to before on twitter. I wish I weren't so shy in the PR department of my blog.

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  20. I admit to sending out gushy mushy emails to authors..if I loved the book I can't help myself.

    If it is a positive review, I try to @ the author on Twitter...but I do feel weird about it. So - I don't know. I am so happy some authors have replied here!! Their opinions have been nice to read!

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  21. Wow. I had no idea that some people feel they shouldn't contact authors. Speaking for myself and every other writer I know, we LOVE getting emails from those who have read our books. Whether it's from reviewers with an 'I've read and reviewed your book', or fans with comments or questions, please feel free to contact the author. Every author I know has a contact page on her/his website for just that reason.

    We love to hear from you! :)

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  22. Before I started blogging, I would email the authors of the books that I really really liked to tell them that they are made of awesome, and ask them to please sign my copy of their book. These authors were always super duper nice and grateful for the kind words - even though they were a little on the gushing side.
    When I started my blog, I contacted a few of these authors to ask about protocol - do I need to tell them when I write about them, etc... They all told me that I do not have to tell them when I write about them or their books but that they do like to read favorable reviews and that I should send them my link. So that's what I do because that's what they told me to do! lol

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  23. BUG ME!!!

    If you reviewed it, liked it, hated it, whatever, of course I would love to know. Google alerts doesn't always work and I don't spend a lot of time on-line doing things other than research at times. so yes, bug me!

    Of course you don't HAVE to do so but I always appreciate it when someone lets me know. If I can, I often respond personally with at least a thank you for reviewing it. I am always fascinated with what appeals to different readers.

    I am never going to get mad at a reviewer if they didn't like something (Unless they go completely overboard professionally and start calling me names and wishing plagues of boils on my children and other nonsense like that). But a review that said
    "Read it and meh, it sucked"? Nope. Don't hate you. Not every book is for every person and I know that from word one.

    And gimme a shout on twitter and say 'HI! I'm reading your book'. I love it.

    I am a writer. I show off with words.

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  24. http://web.me.com/imagobooksOctober 7, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    Hi Patti:

    As an author of 9 adult, epic fantasies and a YA fantasy trilogy, I love hearing from my readers! In fact, two fans started an Imago Facebook Fan Page when they heard there was movie interest for the 1st three novels in my series. And one reader who saw an interview I did on MTV a few years back became one of my biggest fan. (She turned out to be a film producer!)
    To tell you the truth, I never would have written all these books if it wasn't for the fans asking for the next adventure!
    I keep all the letters and cards they mail to me. If it wasn't for these readers letting me know I moved them to tears or had them laughing out loud, I doubt very much if I would have continued writing!
    For me, I love hearing from the readers and I love it when they make the effort to meet me when I'm doing a book signing.
    Thanks for a great blog!

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  25. Like most authors, I am vain and insecure and have standing searches set up for my name. I read EVERY WORD that anybody ever writes about me or my work on the internets.

    However, I generally don't comment on reviews (positive or negative) unless the author has contacted me. (I hate to reveal myself to be as pathetic as I actually am.)

    I love getting emails from people who enjoy my work. I think I can speak for most authors when I say that I never consider myself to be bothered by someone who likes my work.

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  26. Hi Patty!

    From my experience, I never mind getting emails or chatting with people on Facebook (er, except I'm bad at Facebook) or on Twitter. I love it! Readers are awesome and as a reader myself, there's nothing I like better than talking books.

    I do understand what you mean about not wanting to tweet/post about books that you didn't like but feeling stifled. IMO (and I know this is not always a popular one), an author's book is put out in public and you have the right to discuss it - negative or positive. That is a decision we make, as authors. You have a right to say you hated a book. Absolutely.

    In my experience, if I get a bad review - and usually a good one too - I try not to answer it so as not to contaminate the discussion, unless I've been invited. There's some people I bug (cough Mandi cough Katiebabs cough) because we've chitchatted a decent amount in the past and I feel comfortable dropping in, but usually we are just as worried about interfering as you are about hurting our feelings.

    That being said, I TOTALLY understand where you come from, because I have seen the authors that harass people on Goodreads for rating their book 3 stars instead of a raving five, etc. And that's frustrating, because they don't realize they're just making themselves look unprofessional.

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  27. Okay, I am going to throw my hat in the ring here too. I'm a new author, so I don't have a big following yet, but I can honestly say, I can't imagine not wanting to hear from a reader or reviewer who liked my book! STALK ME! On Twitter, at my website, via email, BRING IT! Aside from getting "the call" it is the best feeling an author can have (IMO).

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  28. Oh my gosh - thank you all so, so much for all the input. I almost want to print this comment section and frame it :) This has been so wonderful to hear from both sides of the page - I will make sure to show my appreciation as often as I can!!!

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  29. I am just here to say.... Uhhuu... told you with a big gracious smile and a ton of hugs!

    This was an awesome comment section Patti.. and I think you are right, I will print it out and frame it, lmbo!!! Awesome job hon!

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  30. It is nice to hear it from the horses', err, authors' mouths. Also glad I am not super stalker-ish for shouting it out to them on twitter and such. Great post Patti!

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  31. I say go for it! Really, what do you have to lose? So they don't respond, who cares? But you'll never know if you don't ask/email! So gather your courage and go for it! :)

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  32. I feel so much better knowing that there are other people out there unsure of what to do in this instance. And other bloggers that have to psych themselves into emailing an author, @-ing them on Twitter, etc.

    Despite doing reviews for a year and a half, I still feel like an insignificant pipsqueak when it comes to authors. They've worked so hard, and achieved something so awesome (Books are the bestest creations evar!), and except at book signings (and even there) I feel a little uncomfortable talking to them.

    That said.. I currently do reviews for Romance Reviews Today, and my review of "Born to Bite" by Lynsay Sands was recently posted. One of the awesome ladies at RRT emailed the author to let her know the book went live, and Ms. Sands emailed back, asking that her thanks and such be sent to the reviewer (me, eek!). And in my excitement, I posted on my Facebook that she kindly thanked me, yadda yadda, for my review.. and I tagged her in the status. She actually commented on my status to thank me again, and to show her appreciation. I was floored that she actually took the time to read it, I know a lot of authors friend fans on FB, but didn't think they'd read all tagged photos/posts/etc.

    So maybe someday I'll gather the courage to do something like that more often. Doubtful, though.

    Whew, okay. Long enough comment. Sorry!

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  33. Wow. What a great discussion piece!

    It's funny, because I have received a few e-mails from authors who have read my reviews. And I know of at least 3 authors who all apologized in the e-mail saying something along the lines of "I don't know if it's polite to contact a reviewer and say 'thanks', but I'm doing it anyway..."

    I guess it's a case of, 'they're more scared of us than we are of them'. lol!

    I always thought *that* was weird - because I'm like you, authors are my rock-stars and when one of them e-mails me or leaves a message on my blog I FREAK out (in a good way). I never thought that authors would sit at their desk and 'umm' and 'ahh' about contacting reviewers though. So I say - go for it! It's a weird polite/social grey area so err on the side of fangirl :)

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