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Thread: Authors should never respond to reviews?

  1. #51
    Inappropriately math-oriented. slhuang's Avatar
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    @MarkEsq --

    My first instinct was to derecommend responding, but on second thought I guess it depends on what you'd say. If you have a really humorous story about how you came to sell your book as a series, one your publisher wouldn't mind you sharing, then maybe. But if the comment you want to make wouldn't be both *very* humorous and *very* substantive, then I would say no, and if you're in doubt as to the wittiness and value of your contribution, I would say no. And if you do, be careful -- it strikes me it would be so easy to come off as snooty or defensive or "explainy" when responding to something like that, at least in my experience.

    Just MHO, of course.

  2. #52
    Moonshade lauralam's Avatar
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    If it's to explain something factual like how many books etc are in the series, I see no problem with it. I've commented on one or two where they were asking if there was a sequel, just to say "Yes, Pantomime2 will be out next year, and thank you for reviewing." End. No drama transpired.


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  3. #53
    empty-nester! shadowwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raburrell View Post
    Disagree with this too - there are plenty of things I've read in books that I would love the chance to discuss further with the author, and back in my fanfic days, I had some really great discussions with readers. I honestly don't see why it matters where it happens.
    In fanfic, it was practically a requirement that authors respond to reviews/comments. But if I'm reviewing a book, and other readers come on to discuss, I don't want the author popping in to 'explain'. If they have to explain, that should've happened in the book. If I want to ask a question or discuss the book with the author, I'll email or go to their blog. As an author, I'm not going to presume readers are eager for my insights - I'll wait to be invited to the party.

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralam View Post
    If it's to explain something factual like how many books etc are in the series, I see no problem with it. I've commented on one or two where they were asking if there was a sequel, just to say "Yes, Pantomime2 will be out next year, and thank you for reviewing." End. No drama transpired.
    Yes - this is entirely different from inserting oneself into a discussion.
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  4. #54
    Treguna Makoidees Trecorum SadisDee raburrell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowwalker View Post
    In fanfic, it was practically a requirement that authors respond to reviews/comments. But if I'm reviewing a book, and other readers come on to discuss, I don't want the author popping in to 'explain'. If they have to explain, that should've happened in the book. If I want to ask a question or discuss the book with the author, I'll email or go to their blog. As an author, I'm not going to presume readers are eager for my insights - I'll wait to be invited to the party.
    Sorry, not what I meant - if an author pops on to explain why you don't get their jeenyus, then yeah, that's rude. But if someone said something in a review that gave me something to think about, was insightful, or otherwise might make for an interesting discussion, that's more in line with what I meant.

    I guess I just don't see the need to censor anyone who wants to participate in a discussion, and the suggestion to the contrary feels both rude and cliquey to me.

    All that said, I don't have much of a dog in this fight - I write very few reviews, don't bother to review books I don't like, and I have nothing published at this point.
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  5. #55
    Mushroom Polenth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raburrell View Post
    I guess I just don't see the need to censor anyone who wants to participate in a discussion, and the suggestion to the contrary feels both rude and cliquey to me.
    Fan fiction communities are like clubs, but that's not what we're talking about here. You're selling a product and your readers are your customers. Even if you think they're rude and cliquey, they're still your customers. You don't have to like them on a personal level. You can think their boundaries are strange. But you still want them to buy more things from you, so it's in your best interest not to upset them needlessly.

    I'm not advocating putting up with abuse. If they send you death threats, or otherwise cross the line into criminality, by all means report them. But what we're talking about here is on the level of having a habit you find annoying. People get thrown out of shops for threatening the staff, but not for wearing a perfume the manager doesn't like.

    In other words, if what it takes to make that customer happy is to leave their reviews alone, it's an easy thing to do. You might not like it, but it doesn't harm you to do so.
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  6. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by Polenth View Post
    In other words, if what it takes to make that customer happy is to leave their reviews alone, it's an easy thing to do. You might not like it, but it doesn't harm you to do so.

    If a reviewer actually says "I don't want authors commenting on my reviews," then one should respect their wishes. But I don't think there need be a general proscription against authors commenting on reviews because some reviewers don't like it.

  7. #57
    Treguna Makoidees Trecorum SadisDee raburrell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polenth View Post
    Fan fiction communities are like clubs, but that's not what we're talking about here. You're selling a product and your readers are your customers. Even if you think they're rude and cliquey, they're still your customers. You don't have to like them on a personal level. You can think their boundaries are strange. But you still want them to buy more things from you, so it's in your best interest not to upset them needlessly.
    Yeah, I left the fanfic thing behind close to 10 years ago at this point - I get the differences. That said, whereas review communities are being held up both as social groups and part of the business, in which most authors are on both sides, I just don't see the hard-and-fast distinctions that others see. And further, with authors expected to do more all the time at marketing themselves, preventing reasonable & prudent engagement with readers for (what seem to me as) strange reasons, I think it's at least worth questioning whether it's really necessary to be so limiting.

    As Amadan says, if a particular reviewer said 'I don't like authors commenting on my reviews', I'd respect that.

    Even if you go for the consumer/producer model though, it seems to me that in most cases, everyone benefits when information flows freely between both sides (forgive me the poor analogy, but I'm sitting here listening to my writing partner tear her hair out trying to contact an airline).

    I get that this is the status quo - just that looking in as an outsider, it seems strange to me. YMMV
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  8. #58
    empty-nester! shadowwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raburrell View Post
    I guess I just don't see the need to censor anyone who wants to participate in a discussion, and the suggestion to the contrary feels both rude and cliquey to me.
    And for me, an author popping in on a discussion between readers feels presumptuous, regardless of why. It's not about them, after all - it's about the book.
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  9. #59
    Treguna Makoidees Trecorum SadisDee raburrell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowwalker View Post
    And for me, an author popping in on a discussion between readers feels presumptuous, regardless of why. It's not about them, after all - it's about the book.
    Right - so if they're discussing the book and not themselves, why is that wrong?
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  10. #60
    empty-nester! shadowwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raburrell View Post
    Right - so if they're discussing the book and not themselves, why is that wrong?
    Because the author is the elephant in the living room. They've already written the book. It's not theirs now - it's the readers'. Regardless of how many times people say it shouldn't affect the discussion, it does change the conversation and it does keep people from freely discussing the book. It's human nature. Suddenly there's an "authority figure" standing over them. It might not bother some of the people - but it most assuredly will bother others. And because of that, the conversation will not be as full or as explorative as it could be.
    Je suis Charlie

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  11. #61
    Treguna Makoidees Trecorum SadisDee raburrell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowwalker View Post
    Because the author is the elephant in the living room. They've already written the book. It's not theirs now - it's the readers'. Regardless of how many times people say it shouldn't affect the discussion, it does change the conversation and it does keep people from freely discussing the book. It's human nature. Suddenly there's an "authority figure" standing over them. It might not bother some of the people - but it most assuredly will bother others. And because of that, the conversation will not be as full or as explorative as it could be.
    Sorry, but to me, this still sounds like censorship. Reasonable people can carry on a conversation even when there are perceived imbalances of power, IMO. The author has no actual power - as you've noted, the book exists on its own at that point, so they're just another voice in the conversation. I don't think either of us will convince the other at this point though, so I will agree to disagree.
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  12. #62
    empty-nester! shadowwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raburrell View Post
    The author has no actual power - as you've noted, the book exists on its own at that point, so they're just another voice in the conversation.
    An authoritative voice. But yeah, agree to disagree and all that.
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  13. #63
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raburrell View Post
    Sorry, but to me, this still sounds like censorship. Reasonable people can carry on a conversation even when there are perceived imbalances of power, IMO. The author has no actual power - as you've noted, the book exists on its own at that point, so they're just another voice in the conversation. I don't think either of us will convince the other at this point though, so I will agree to disagree.
    Of course people *can* do anything. But authors could be aware of the pretty significant chance that they are making people uncomfortable (especially reviewers with past bad experiences with authors, which many of us have). Which is bad marketing. Which is why it is common to advise them not to do it.

    That's really all there is to it. I am not anti-author, obviously. But my experiences as a reviewer have some serious low points up to and including specific threats, obscenities etc. So when an author goes beyond a minimal polite response to my review, I do start to get nervous. Am I "wrong" to feel that way? Maybe, but it's my blog. I can feel however I like about it.

  14. #64
    Treguna Makoidees Trecorum SadisDee raburrell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    Of course people *can* do anything. But authors could be aware of the pretty significant chance that they are making people uncomfortable (especially reviewers with past bad experiences with authors, which many of us have). Which is bad marketing. Which is why it is common to advise them not to do it.

    That's really all there is to it.
    No, I get that - and I do understand that a lot of the problem here has been bad behavior in the past. Honestly, the main reason I avoid places like g00dreads is that it seems like there are a lot of people there who never left high school, if you know what I mean. I guess I'm just trying to say that it doesn't have to be that way unless we let it. Maybe I'm too optimistic though.
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  15. #65
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I think it definitely can go well. It is just important to go it realizing the reviewer may be suspicious/hostile due to past experience, and what is the up side of it going well? Risk: benefit.

  16. #66
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    So far, I've never been involved in one of these flame wars on GR. I say 'so far' because I can see it could happen. Sometimes people do leave amazingly asinine--and occasionally somewhat personal--comments on my reviews. Sometimes I am not entirely saintly in responding. But it has been entirely possible for me to use GR for what? five, six years now, without ending up in an AW thread for it .

    ETA: by "people" I don't mean authors.
    Last edited by Buffysquirrel; 02-24-2013 at 10:50 PM. Reason: clarification

  17. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    Goodreads is a social experience that explicitly invites authors to participate - in fact, having authors and publishers there to promote their books is how GR makes money. So of course sometimes they are going to read your reviews, and even comment.

    Your issues with author participation are certainly something authors who feel inclined to comment on reviews should take into account - along with all the other hazards of authors commenting on reviews (you might come off looking like either an ass or a suck-up), there are psychologically fragile people who will flip out and make you look mean. But as I said in the first post, I think the fact that there are good reasons to be wary doesn't mean that it's wrong for an author to comment on a review, only risky.
    Or, there are people who lack your gender privilege and whose opinions are conflated with their appearance, weight, marital status, or sexual appetite, among other things.

    Also, there are psychologically fragile people out there who may flip out and you will never know about it or the consequences of it.



    Quote Originally Posted by Buffysquirrel View Post
    Goodreads actively invited the authors in and encouraged them to engage with the readers. This may well have been a bad idea*, but it's how the owners of the site envisage it developing. Therefore, their vision of the 'social experience' includes the authors.

    *yep
    The slogan on the front page of GR is "Meet your next favourite book". It says "Deciding what to read next?" and "Find out what your Friends are reading."

    There aren't any cues on the GR pages to encourage me to go out and socialise with a favourite author. Even the mentioning that people *are* GR authors is subtle.


    Quote Originally Posted by raburrell View Post
    I don't get this at all. If it's a social experience, why should the author be excluded?
    Because it's not about the author, it's about readers discussing the book with other readers.

    Yes, a conversation with the author can be interesting, but that doesn't mean I want to have it.


    Quote Originally Posted by MarkEsq View Post
    Well, since it's on topic, let me ask this: I really really want to respond to this blog article, I think it's a hilarious blog entry about my book and I want to be part of the conversation. Do you think it'd be okay to do so, if I keep it humorous? (I looked for an email address so I could contact the blogger, but couldn't see one).

    What do you think, yea or nay?
    I think the horse has bolted on this one. The blogger likely knows about this thread.

    But, I would have said "nay". The main thing I took from that blog is that when you know a book has sequels, any scenes where the protag may die are irritating because you know they aren't going to. It's useful advice, and something I agree with, so watch your false tension.




    Here's a situation for you all (in fact, the kind of situation I'm thinking about as unwelcome): I was reading some reviews of a book on GR and in one a reviewer mentioned she was distracted by the fact one of the side characters shared a name with a famous actor. The author of the book commented on the review saying they'd never heard of her.

    Should the author have done that?

    (If it makes a difference, the actor has a totally ordinary name which is probably shared by thousands of other people, their breakthrough role led to Oscar and Bafta nominations amongst others - for the author not to have heard of her she'd probably need to have no interest in films and not read the weekend supplements. Even if the author hadn't heard of the actor, they would need to be living under a rock to have not *heard* of the actor's two biggest films).

  18. #68
    Quote Originally Posted by Theo81 View Post
    Or, there are people who lack your gender privilege and whose opinions are conflated with their appearance, weight, marital status, or sexual appetite, among other things.
    How does appearance, weight, marital status, and sexual appetite relate to authors commenting on reviews? o..O

    As far as I can tell, you tossed "gender privilege" in there as an arbitrary attempt at derailment.

    Also, there are psychologically fragile people out there who may flip out and you will never know about it or the consequences of it.
    That can happen as a result of anything anyone posts anywhere.

    There aren't any cues on the GR pages to encourage me to go out and socialise with a favourite author. Even the mentioning that people *are* GR authors is subtle.
    Yes, it might take you an entire hour on the site to figure it out.

    Here's a situation for you all (in fact, the kind of situation I'm thinking about as unwelcome): I was reading some reviews of a book on GR and in one a reviewer mentioned she was distracted by the fact one of the side characters shared a name with a famous actor. The author of the book commented on the review saying they'd never heard of her.

    Should the author have done that?
    Why not? Holy heck, it's just a casual comment.

  19. #69
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    I won't lie, this is a concept I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around. I'm also not a reviewer so I admit that I'm not coming from the same place as many who are.

    So, I get why it's bad form for an author to respond to a review, good or bad. What I'm having trouble is separating the, what appear to me as, varying degrees of 'bad form'.

    Reviewers get wiggy when the author responds to a review about their book. They feel they're being spied on and that their shoulder is being looked over. I get that part. What I don't get is if the author doesn't respond, that doesn't mean the author is not still reading it. If the reviewer is weirded out by the author's presence, just because the author didn't respond doesn't mean their presence isn't still there. Only now, they're a spectre hanging on the fringes watching the conversation take place but not responding at all. The reviewer isn't still feeling the pressure of the author lingering on the fringes?

    The author may even take to their blog and discuss why they think the review is wrong or in error, which I also understand is bad form but more acceptable of bad form than actually responding in the comments of the review. But if the author responds on their own blog about a good review, is that now suddenly less bad form?

    I'm also still stuck on this only the author of the work in question not being able to respond. So, if I'm an author and you've reviewed my book, then I shouldn't respond to it in any form. Check.

    But I'm allowed to participate in your blog on other reviews? That's now not crossing this line of 'wiggy, uncomfortable' behavior? The author of A review you did is still there and they are even interacting with you and other commenters. So, the difference now is only that I'm interacting in a thread not about my book?

    I'm not sure I really understand why it's different. If it's the presence of an author on their review is problematic, it seems to me that it would the presence of any author would also be problematic. They have written a book, they are no longer not an author. They will always be an author, even if they're also a reader. And according to this philosophy of 'no author in discussion please' seems to shake a bit.

    I'm really just trying to understand for when that one day I'm an author and get reviewed. There seems to be so many fine lines and wiggling 'guidelines' that at the moment I'm getting the impression that authors just need to stay away from social media at all in the event they inadvertently violate another 'sacred space'. Which then hampers their ability to interact in social media and to help promote their own book.
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  20. #70
    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    How does appearance, weight, marital status, and sexual appetite relate to authors commenting on reviews? o..O

    As far as I can tell, you tossed "gender privilege" in there as an arbitrary attempt at derailment.

    No, I'm attempting to explain why I have a disinclination to always discuss my opinions, and to expand on your view that it's a bad idea to comment in case the person is emotionally fragile and you end up looking mean.

    As a woman, responses to things I say sometimes start with an insult directed at me. It's something else authors (or those with privilege) should take into account when responding: are your words going to sound combative?

    If you are the author, are you going to have a hundred people reading your comments to this person and taking it upon themselves to respond too?






    Yes, it might take you an entire hour on the site to figure it out.

    I only become aware the author I mentioned in my example was a GR *because* she commented.


    Why not? Holy heck, it's just a casual comment.
    It sounded churlish, a hands on hips "Well, *hair toss* I've never heard of her".


    Quote Originally Posted by bearilou View Post
    I won't lie, this is a concept I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around. I'm also not a reviewer so I admit that I'm not coming from the same place as many who are.

    So, I get why it's bad form for an author to respond to a review, good or bad. What I'm having trouble is separating the, what appear to me as, varying degrees of 'bad form'.

    Reviewers get wiggy when the author responds to a review about their book. They feel they're being spied on and that their shoulder is being looked over. I get that part. What I don't get is if the author doesn't respond, that doesn't mean the author is not still reading it. If the reviewer is weirded out by the author's presence, just because the author didn't respond doesn't mean their presence isn't still there. Only now, they're a spectre hanging on the fringes watching the conversation take place but not responding at all.

    If I don't know about it, it doesn't matter. Even if I do know about it, it doesn't matter if I am not forced into dealing with it (by an author making a comment).

    The author may even take to their blog and discuss why they think the review is wrong or in error, which I also understand is bad form but more acceptable of bad form than actually responding in the comments of the review. But if the author responds on their own blog about a good review, is that now suddenly less bad form?

    I think it's only bad form if I can go from the blog and find out what's being talked about. So, write it but post it a month or so later. Fudge details. Keep it general. (See previous comment: if I don't know about it, it doesn't matter.)


    I'm also still stuck on this only the author of the work in question not being able to respond. So, if I'm an author and you've reviewed my book, then I shouldn't respond to it in any form. Check.

    "Shouldn't"? No. You can do what you like. If you do it to me appropos of nothing, I will feel unnerved. If you are okay with that, then obviously, go ahead.

    But I'm allowed to participate in your blog on other reviews? That's now not crossing this line of 'wiggy, uncomfortable' behavior? The author of A review you did is still there and they are even interacting with you and other commenters. So, the difference now is only that I'm interacting in a thread not about my book?

    I think it depends, which really is true of the whole thing. If the reviewer has a big review blog, they get ARCs from publishers etc etc then it's not the "OMG! THEY'RE WATCHING!" moment it would be of a blog with 4 readers which posts reviews of what the blogger got from the library that week.
    I do keep saying I don't want authors to comment on my reviews but this is as an abstract concept. If it happened, I would probably just ignore it. Or, yannow, procrastinate and then realise it was three months ago and no longer mattered.

    The only "Do not comment, just don't do it, ever, pretend you don't exist" rule I *think* I'd apply is if you're a middle-aged man who writes YA for girls. And that's because the line between everything-normal and woah-creepy can be a fine one. If you want to talk to the fans, do it in a generalised blog post or something like that.


    I'm not sure I really understand why it's different. If it's the presence of an author on their review is problematic, it seems to me that it would the presence of any author would also be problematic. They have written a book, they are no longer not an author. They will always be an author, even if they're also a reader. And according to this philosophy of 'no author in discussion please' seems to shake a bit.

    I can make the distinction between me, the person, and me, the OfficialJobTitle.

    Like, Janet Reid posts in Ask the Agent as Janet Reid, and she represents herself and her interests. Torgo posts here as Torgo, not WhoeverTorgoIs from ThePublisherTorgoWorksFor.



    I'm really just trying to understand for when that one day I'm an author and get reviewed. There seems to be so many fine lines and wiggling 'guidelines' that at the moment I'm getting the impression that authors just need to stay away from social media at all in the event they inadvertently violate another 'sacred space'. Which then hampers their ability to interact in social media and to help promote their own book.
    As, clearly, the most judgemental person here, I'd say, look at how the people you want to emulate do it. It is a case-by-case thing and I'm speaking about this as somebody whose most recently read books are things like Literary Prize longlistees - there isn't an expectation for the author to promote on social media in the way there probably is for the genres I don't really read.

    I don't comment on anything people say about my work that isn't directed at me. It's got nothing to do with me and if I want to read it and worry about it, that's not their problem either.

  21. #71
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theo81 View Post
    I don't comment on anything people say about my work that isn't directed at me. It's got nothing to do with me and if I want to read it and worry about it, that's not their problem either.
    Thanks for responding Theo. These are the kinds of answers I was looking for. I realize it's all subjective and all opinion and individual comfort levels. And I know it's not something I need to be worried about right now.

    Just thinking on things so that it's all squared in my head how I feel about it if it ever arises and I'm faced with it. *likes to be prepared in the event of an emergency*
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  22. #72
    practical experience, FTW Weirdmage's Avatar
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    To me personally, and I am rewiever, it doesn't matter if the author comments on my reviews of their books. And it has happened, but just as "thank you" comments.
    I do however understand those who doesn't want Author participation.

    Quote Originally Posted by bearilou View Post
    I'm also still stuck on this only the author of the work in question not being able to respond. So, if I'm an author and you've reviewed my book, then I shouldn't respond to it in any form. Check.

    But I'm allowed to participate in your blog on other reviews? That's now not crossing this line of 'wiggy, uncomfortable' behavior? The author of A review you did is still there and they are even interacting with you and other commenters. So, the difference now is only that I'm interacting in a thread not about my book?
    The author is only an Author when it comes to their own books, for any other book they are still a reader. -At least that is my opinion. And maybe that should be made a rule?
    Caveat: Authors going in to comment on a review to defend an author friend would of course be wrong. (And I've seen some of those turn really bad.)

  23. #73
    Clever title pending. MarkEsq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theo81 View Post
    I think the horse has bolted on this one. The blogger likely knows about this thread.

    But, I would have said "nay". The main thing I took from that blog is that when you know a book has sequels, any scenes where the protag may die are irritating because you know they aren't going to. It's useful advice, and something I agree with, so watch your false tension.
    That's a great point. I think I'm okay, though, because when I think about the dramatic scenes in which my MC figures they are not so much about whether he gets killed. They are more to do with whether he'll catch the bad guy, save his friend, find the stolen whatever.

    But back on topic, and still wondering about the link I posted, because this is an interesting issue (series characters and their low risk of death), is there any harm in linking to his blog post from mine, as I discuss that issue?

  24. #74
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theo81 View Post
    The slogan on the front page of GR is "Meet your next favourite book". It says "Deciding what to read next?" and "Find out what your Friends are reading."

    There aren't any cues on the GR pages to encourage me to go out and socialise with a favourite author. Even the mentioning that people *are* GR authors is subtle.
    I've been active on GR for years, and I've observed the shift towards getting the writers more involved by, yanno, being on the site for years. That the front-page slogan has not evolved along with the site doesn't strike me as particularly relevant. Further, authors can be readers, they can have favourite books, they can be deciding what to read next, and they can have friends who are readers. Nothing in the slogan precludes author involvement.

    The author pages always existed on GR but now when you visit them you are invited to claim them as your own, if you are the author. That seems to me to be a clue that the authors are being encouraged to get involved. Many books have author q&a's, a feature GR introduced to enable authors and readers to engage with each other directly on the site.

    It may be that you don't like this development. I'm ambivalent about it myself. But it's real and it's not invisible.

  25. #75
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Yes, and I think the invitation to authors is not entirely synchronized with the expectations of established users, especially given the clumsy spamming of inexperienced authors priming the snark-pump.

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