The Relationship Between Reviewer and Author – A Discussion

Hi guys!

Today I want to chat a little bit about the relationship between book reviewers like myself and the authors of the books we read and review and where the boundary line between the two should fall.

I have a twitter account connected to my blog and my Goodreads. Many of you know this already as we follow each other there too. But every time I post a review to either my blog or Goodreads it automatically tweets a link.

I also manually tweet links to this blog (and other blogs I follow) from time to time as well as giving brief snippets of my thoughts on books.

The other week I tweeted a link to a negative review of a book I had read. I won’t name the book but it was one that I do not recommend as it contained a very problematic message. In my tweet I named the book and the author but did not hashtag either nor did I tag the author or their publisher.

I am a firm believer in not tagging an author or publisher in my book reviews / tweets / instagram posts unless I am expressly requested to do so (in a NetGalley or Blog Tour email etc.) and even then I will only tag them if the review is a four star rating or higher.

I thought no more about my tweet until the next day I was on my Instagram account and happened to look at who had viewed my Instagram stories. And to my surprise the verified account associated with the author of that same book I had tweeted about had viewed my two stories.

And I must confess I felt quite uneasy.

Honestly I felt somewhat stalked.

Yes all my accounts are public and there is a pinned tweet at the top of my Twitter profile from which this author could have clicked through to my Instagram…

But I wondered why?

Why do this?

Why take the time out of their day to look through my social media accounts?

What was the need to go check out my Instagram, my instagram stories (which was a cute photo of my dog I might add).

I think there needs to be a definite line between author and reviewer. When this line gets blurred it leads to a change in relationship and opens up the potential for reviews that may not be altogether impartial. I have always written very honest reviews; a number of people have often joked to me that I should call my blog the honest reviews blog because I always speak my mind. I am incapable of being any other way really. My reviews will always be honest because honesty and integrity are two of the three attributes I hold most regard for in this world. The other being kindness.

So I want to throw the floor open to debate and ask all of you if you ever have felt unsettled by an author’s activity after you have written a negative review about their book. Am I right in feeling that this author crossed a line by so overtly stalking my social media activity?

I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below and to please share if you have had any similar experiences.

For PART TWO of this discussion click HERE.

36 thoughts on “The Relationship Between Reviewer and Author – A Discussion

  1. This is a really interesting discussion. Many good thoughts here! I am the author of one novel and I confess to sometimes reading reviews of my work on Goodreads.(It is in fact how I became a fan of yours, Emer, because you wrote such a witty review that I wanted to know what you thought about other books, too.) Before I managed to write and publish a book I had an idea that writers somehow live in a more rarefied realm than anyone else, that they just write and write, caring nothing for what anyone thinks. But this is not true. People write books for the same reason book bloggers write reviews — to share thoughts and feelings and ideas, to communicate with others. It’s only human to wonder if your words made sense, if they reached anyone and were understood the way you meant them. Even if it seems really pathetic to read your own Goodreads reviews. (Though recently I went to a talk by a well-known author I admire tremendously, someone who has won major awards, and something she said in the course of her talk made me realize that SHE TOO sometimes succumbs to the temptation! Which made me feel better. ) I understand not everyone is going to love my book, and I am fine with that. Everyone has the right to an opinion. I would never respond in any way to a negative review (any more than to a positive review), but I do sometimes feel curious about the person who wrote one. Like, what other books have they read? What kind of books do they like? What expectations might they have had that my book failed to satisfy? What can I learn from this review? So I might go and look at what else they’ve reviewed on Goodreads, what books we have in common and if I share their opinions about those other books. But in a spirit of inquiry, not bitterness. The fact that this author you speak of never contacted you in any way suggests to me it was probably something similar.
    Thanks for this great post and I hope I am not speaking out of turn by weighing in here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I have to apologise first up because WordPress somehow categorised your comment as spam and I only just found it in my spam folder!!! It is so annoying how it keeps marking genuine comments as spam so I am very sorry and hope you did not think I was ignoring you or your wonderful comment.
      I have to say that since writing this post I have thought long and hard about the reviewer/author boundary: I still feel slightly weirded out but with everyone’s input and thoughts I have altered my opinion somewhat so I am planning a follow up post this week. Because as you say it is nigh on impossible to not be curious as a human being. And as you say how you and I have come to *meet* is because I read and reviewed your novel and I never questioned our conversations because I was a fan of your novel (hands down the best Austen inspired novel I have ever read and I wish more people knew about it) and therefore I should treat an author of a book I was not a fan of with the same thinking. Authors are just people, no different to how reviewers are. And as long as there is respectful discourse then as a reviewer I should be okay with any author-reviewer interactions. And this author in this instance never contacted me outright so really I think I over reacted. I guess I am simply just as human and fallible as the author was.
      Thanks so much for your comment Flynn, I truly appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha, thanks for your reply, Emer! (And for your kind words in Part II of this discussion.) After I wrote the above long comment and tried to post, it simply disappeared — it did not tell me it had gone to spam. WordPress is sometimes wonky, and I figured it had just been eaten. And I thought, maybe for the best — maybe this was not the place for the authors. So I am surprised and delighted to see it finally did show up and had not offended you.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re more than welcome!! I always appreciate thoughtful opinion because it really is important to challenge our own viewpoints and to reflect on whether or not our feelings and views are entirely justified… And on reflection I definitely needed to alter some of my opinions. What’s the post of discussion if we never truly listen to others and learn in some way from it. I don’t think we can ever be absolutist in our views. And should always be willing to hear a different take


  2. I’ve heard some awful stories of authors taking to twitter to rant about bad reviews. I’ve also heard stories of authors stalking social media of those who write bad reviews. I think that authors should realize that all books come with good and bad reviews. Now, if she was curious as to why you wrote the bad review then fine, but to go on your instagram is a little weird. I have a few authors who follow me on instagram and one is an author I read recently as I had their sequel on NetGalley to read. It was okay but not as good as the first. I am little anxious about sharing my review for it because even if I don’t tag or use a hashtag with her name, I know she will see it. I can only hope that it will be well received as I did my best to be honest about what I didn’t like but also what I loved. Hopefully it will be well received because she is very nice! *fingers crossed*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I’ve heard a lot of author horror stories too and it does give me pause for thought from time to time, but it will never stop me from being honest about my thoughts on a book.
      If you’re worried about how that author may react you can always go into your insta follower list and remove them? I know how you feel as I am Goodreads friends with a few authors and one time, when I didn’t love a book by one of them I just thought it would be nicer to quietly remove them as a friend before I published my review so that my review would then not automatically pop up in their feed. But I do think that on the whole most authors are pretty decent people and there are authors that I am still happily GR friends with.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s not like its a terrible review. I mean I still gave it 3 stars but there were a few things I didn’t care for. I guess I will just let it play out and see what happens. It just doesn’t do my anxiety any good, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great discussion topic and so relevant to the book blogging community right now! It’s also super interesting to read the comments and everyone else’s opinions. I think that lately the line has been getting more and more blurred as you rightly say and it’s something that some authors I think don’t consider. In a way I understand their desire to find out everything about their readers/reviewers as after such a long time writing a novel it must be heartbreaking to see a negative review (or not a completely positive one). I also think that many authors don’t always appreciate that everyone has contrasting opinions and they can’t always influence everyone. I’m sorry that that this happened to you and that it made you feel so uneasy! Personally I have never had anything similar happen to me but I have noticed it a lot more lately.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Darina!!!
      It is an interesting thing to discuss and I’ve loved hearing everyone’s thoughts. And you’re right, it’s good to think of things from the author’s PoV and their simple curiosity to learn more about me. They too are only human and we all do silly things don’t we. Thinking about things from their PoV makes me feel better actually so thank you for reminding me of that. And I am quite fortunate that this author did not take things too far and attempt to contact me in some inappropriate manner after my negative review.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry you felt uncomfortable, that doesn’t sound fun at all!

    I’m glad to hear this author didn’t do anything to contact you directly, but I can understand you feeling uncomfortable – especially when you’ve made the effort not to tag the author in your negative review. There is every chance, though, that they liked your blog and decided to have a look at more of your content!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I always remember that my posts are public whenever I write reviews on Goodreads and my blog. Therefore, I don’t care who views them as I’ve not secreted them behind privacy walls, an option available to me. I, too, will connect authors and publishers to my 4 & 5 star reviews routinely no matter how they were sourced.

    I can understand your feeling of discomfort in discovering the author found your post. However, I don’t think she/he crossed a line just by reading it. You’ve created content that’s an honest reflection of your reading experience and I suspect you were respectful in your presentation. I’ve worked with many authors who consider this type criticism constructive. And, someone else may have directed the review to the author’s attention. Crossing the line is when the author comments or does something otherwise considered inappropriate. Instead of assuming the worst, turn that around and believe your feedback was helpful. Good authors recognize and respect that not every reader is going to like their work. I’d focus on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I think you misunderstood me a little Jonetta, perhaps I should have clarified in my post. I 100% have no issue with an author reading any review I publish. I stand over my opinions and publish them on public forums content in the knowledge that anyone including the author, publisher etc. can read them.

      In fact I am quite happy think that perhaps this author will have taken stock from the criticisms I had of the problematic themes within their book.

      It was the feeling that this author obviously read my review on my blog and then felt the need to check my Instagram, which again had no hashtag nor Instagram story about their book so it was a case of them taking time to size me up and take a nosey around that account which made me feel uneasy. I know they didn’t contact me and that is to their credit, but I still feel it was somewhat peculiar to go from my blog to my Instagram rather than just simply reading the review on the blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My bad! I did miss that point.

        A little unsettling knowing the author took that extra step. Could also be a case of learning a bit more about your review style, especially if she/he found your comments thoughtful. It’s a step I sometimes take when considering a book and reading a critical review. Still, though, unusual for an author to take the time.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve been thinking a lot more about it since I wrote this post and with everyone commenting etc. and I am going to put it down to an author simply being human and as you said, a sense of curiosity and the need to understand more about me as a person. We are all capable of making errors of judgement and should they have done what they did… I believe they shouldn’t (as you said it was unusual) but ultimately they did respect the boundary between reviewer and author even if they did stretch it a little. Thanks so much for commenting Jonetta. I really do appreciate your thoughts :))) <333

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Ooph, I am glad you didn’t have any problems! Definitely understand feeling uncomfortable though. I tag authors in reviews that are 4stars or higher if needed (like you said with netgalley) or hashtag them if the review was positive, but 3 stars or below I tend not to do so- unless an author (usually indie) asked me for the review specifically (which is always a little scary) since I too keep my reviews honest. It is definitely a difficult thing to deal with, since authors see reviews a lot whether tagged or not 😶. Authors should really leave the accounts of reviewers alone though- especially if they were not even tagged in the review! Great post-and important discussion hopefully they leave you alone 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a strange one isn’t it!! I absolutely have no problem with an author reading any review I write about their book but I was just quite baffled as to why they felt the need to look through all my social media when it wasn’t even pertaining to them not to mind hash tagged!
      But I am grateful that this particular author did not expressly contact me.
      Thanks for commenting. I was just so curious to see what everyone else thought and what other experiences reviewers and bloggers had :))))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very strange, I would have been baffled too! I am glad they didn’t contact you or cause any other problems.
        Your welcome! It is a very interesting post! It is nice to see what everyone thinks, I have heard a lot about this type of thing recently so I am sure many people will agree with and relate to your post!
        Great post!! 💜💜😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you!!! And actually I feel a whole lot better since I wrote this post because of everyone’s comments. I started to think about the human aspect of this author, how it’s easy to just get curious about this reviewer who didn’t like their book and want to know a little more. I shall just chalk this up to their being human and capable of mistakes like we all are :)))


          1. You’re welcome!! I am glad you are feeling better about it and viewing it so positively! You are probably right too, since we do all get a little curious. It’s great that writing the post was helpful for you!💜😊

            Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s crazy how social media makes us open to pretty much any interaction out there on the internet! I keep my personal ig private because ewww the people that want to follow me sometimes are so shady lol. My bookstagram act I keep open to public and thank goodness no weirdness yet on that account but I totally understood why you felt uncomfortable. Hopefully they were just curious who wrote the review and that’s that and leave you alone. 😕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It just got me thinking a lot because even though my Instagram is a bookstagram, I feel it is the most personal of my social media spaces and it just felt very strange to think that an author was that curious about me that they personally checked out that account. I am but one voice, one opinion and I know if I was in their shoes I would not concern myself with a book reviewer that had never interacted with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m really glad that this author didn’t confront you or anything about your review, because I feel like that would have really crossed the line. I also don’t know how I would feel if someone who’s book I didn’t particularly liked ended up looking at my Instagram and Blog or anything like that, because then I’d feel obligated to have to justify my reasoning, which I already did in my blog. Us not liking a book for the content does not mean that we think the author is not worth liking, and I think people need to understand that. I’m so sorry that you felt stalked and it doesn’t matter that your profile is public. It’s your space. That doesn’t mean that people can make you feel uncomfortable in your own space.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Leelynn!!! I am so glad I was not confronted either because that would truly have been wrong… I mean if I had been confronted then I certainly would not be protecting their privacy as I am now as I think there has to be a level of mutual respect between author and reader.
      It was just very unnerving and made me feel quite unsettled but it hasn’t changed how I approach writing my reviews. I will always be honest and always call out problematic themes as much as I will fangirl about books I love.
      And I will hope that authors will continue to respect the integrity of book reviewers

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m always so creeped out when authors bother reviewers who write negative reviews, like please no. As reviewers, we are allowed to say what we want about the book. It’s not like we are attacking the author so they need to respect the boundaries and leave reviewers alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more with you!!! At least in this instance the author did not directly confront me but it still felt somewhat of a step too far for me. It just felt so uneasy thinking that this person decided to just snoop through my account but at least they had the good sense to not take things any further.


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