SFF180 Editorial | Tagging Authors in Negative Reviews!?

hello again everyone and welcome back to SFF 180 thomas here your host as always now as some of you may know I am not exactly what you'd call a godly man but if I had one prayer it might go like this Lord give me the confidence of a moron on the internet who cobbles together a half-assed argument to justify their bad behavior over the last week or so there has been increased chatter on book Twitter about the appropriateness of tagging authors when you tweet reviews of their work especially if those reviews are negative now the consensus generally seems to be that it's downright rude to tag an author when you have panned their work though opinions differ on whether you should tag them if you ever in a total gush my own policy is that I never tagged authors in reviews ever period positive or negative if an author wants to see my review of their book they are perfectly capable of finding it themselves should they choose to you can of course ask writers their own preferences and for sure some of them will say they don't mind being tagged if you love their book while others just prefer to be left out of the whole reviewing dialogue but most people agree you feel written a bad review definitely don't tag after all reviews are for readers not writers right yes most of us agree on that very basic point of common courtesy but well you know where this is going it's the internet and you're always gonna find that person in this case of that person is a columnist for book riot a pretty respectable website so it was bizarre to see an article posted there that mounts an impassioned defense for tagging authors in bad reviews only to support the entire stance with some of the most feeble arguments I've ever read now I won't identify this writer nor will I tagged her of course because unlike some people I don't think that there is some mystical virtue and being a douchebag but I will link the article so you can read it in all of its silliness for yourselves the writer who sounds to be perfectly honest like a complete noob it this whole thing leads by announcing that she doesn't think tagging an author in a bad review should be all that big of a deal although she understands authors generally don't like it and so out of respect for that she doesn't actually do it you think the entire conversation could end right there but no like anyone with basic boundary impairment who thinks they have a boatload of amazing reasons why everyone shouldn't be so touchy just because they eat all their snacks out of the break room fridge and borrow their iPhones without asking this writer goes on to explain herself and really it's cringe first she describes her approach to reviewing a skillset she appears to have learned over the past week first when I write reviews my goal is to describe the book and aspects of the book with adjectives and such that could help a potential reader determine whether that book would suit them this means I don't go into a review and just write this book sucked or this book was amazing and leave it at that that's not helpful to anyone instead I'll discuss whether the books plot was action-packed or character driven I'll talk about whether the pace was fast or slow I'll detail what the prose was like and it's then up to the reader to decide if they're looking for one thing over the other in any of these categories you are entitled to one cookie for mastering entry-level competence she then goes on to concede a basic premise second generally speaking reviews are not for authors they are for readers while authors certainly might get something of value out of reading reviews if they choose to read reviews I typically don't spend a few hours thinking about a book and then crafting a review for it for the sake of one person I don't know anyone who writes reviews for the sake of the author all though I suppose at least a few people do blithely ignoring the fact that this concession essentially torpedoes any possible argument she could go on to make she bravely sallies forth and what ultimately does this writers defense of tagging authors in bad reviews amount to apparently it's all about access to information third I'm a librarian I tag authors and reviews not to get the author's attention but to make it easier for the audience to get more information while many authors use the name under which they publish as their handle across various platforms this isn't the case for all of them it sometimes takes some hunting to track them down on social media as someone who likes to know a bit about an author when I'm reading their book I appreciate when reviewers can direct me to the correct person I can understand why some authors might be hurt by negative reviews criticism is hard I'm just not convinced that the risk outweighs the benefit here easy access to more information on authors is important to me and authors are not required to read reviews most books don't fall within categories that are strictly positive or negative have another cookie for discovering the concept of the mixed review a thing I think pretty much every author and publisher and reviewer has been cognizant of for quite a little while now no authors are not required to read a review no one is forcing them to click any links but think for a minute you're an author you awaken one morning to check your notifications on Twitter you open it up to discover yourself tagged in a tweet by some Goodreads randos saying something like hey everyone check out my one-star review of at author names bullshit-ass new book well good morning to you too sunshine really this whole idea that if you don't tag an author everyone will have an incredibly difficult time finding information about them online hun allow me to introduce you to your new online friend I mean we even live in a day and age when you can just talk into your phone and this amazing digital Oracle will just find things for you look I'll demonstrate Brandon Sanderson how about that thousands of results just think how lost I would have been if that one person hadn't tagged Brandon in her tweet about how Mis born was so bad it made her spontaneously abort seriously though let me just lay out some ideas to consider just in case anyone is still even slightly unclear on this concept it isn't just that it's rude but as many authors have pointed out getting tagged by a reviewer places them in a uniquely awkward situation in that in order to maintain professional decorum they cannot respond if you slag their work and they respond in a natural way that their feelings were hurt then their most ardent fans are probably gonna latch on to that and they might dogpile the reviewer who was admittedly very stupid with a mountain of social media abuse it might then look to an uninvolved third party like the author had sick to their rabid fan base upon a reader whose only crime was expressing an opinion or it might not look like that but the author has to err on the side of caution and act as if it will because social media outrage storms have a way of taking on their own life the column ends on a truly silly note the writer basically body surfs down a slippery slope fallacy if we lean toward caution and decide against tagging authors and negative reviews we can't tag authors at all it's rare that any review worth anything doesn't mention anything that hasn't gone well in a book in that case authors are losing out on additional potential readers there are of course instances in which one can appropriately tag an author you can tweet your TBR for the month hey everyone I'm going to be reading such-and-such this week super excited authors love to know that their work is be read at the very least even if you don't go Wanda tell them how you thought of it or you can tag them in a book hall same thing not tagging them when you want the world to know how much they suck does not in any way impede you from doing it in any other context and it's some truly bizarre logical pathways you have to take to convince yourself it's an all-or-nothing proposition to claim that not being able to tag an author in one circumstance rules out all other circumstances makes you sound like like those stupid guys who pop up now and again in response to the me2 movement and they're acting all like well I guess I can just never so much as say a single word to any woman again as long as I live okay yeah dude if your basic conversational skills are so inept that they're literally indistinguishable from sexual harassment maybe not talking to women anymore is a good plan people who aren't totally jacked in the head can generally tell the difference some people ask reasonably but what if your review is chock-full of constructive criticism what if it's really sharp and on point well let me just say once again that constructive criticism is kind of like sex if somebody hasn't asked you for it they probably don't want it from you there is the kind of constructive criticism that authors solicit as a natural part of their writing process it's why authors have agents and editors alpha readers beta readers sensitivity readers but what we mean when we say reviews our for readers and not for authors has to do specifically with the fact that the kind of critique that appears in a review for the general public is not the same kind of critique that an author gets from those sources for one thing reviews only appear when a book is finished and done and out in the cold cruel world and so there's no way any constructive criticism you have at this point would allow an author to go back and maybe make improvements secondly a review as Delilah Dawson has pointed out is more about the personal impact of a book upon the reviewer it's about how well or how poorly a book met that reviewers expectations satisfied or failed to satisfy whatever the reviewer was hoping for from the reading experience even if a negative review is written with consummate insight in analytical skill it is still in most cases not the sort of constructive criticism that serves an author's creative process so what does all this boil down to simple don't be a dick read what you want love what you love and hate what you hate trust me every author worth the ink on their contract already understands that their books will not appeal to every possible reader and so you're accomplishing nothing other than being a jerk by shoving your unwanted opinion in their faces it's pointless and mean-spirited however much you're confused sense of self-importance makes you think you're doing them a favor but that's just my take on all this what do you think let me know in the comments and as always if you enjoyed watching well then please leave a like show the video far and wide with all of your SFF reading friends and above all please subscribe if you have not done so that is how the channel grows you can also support the channel and mighty public store and at my patreon where recruits in the Winx army get little perks like getting to see some of these videos early I want to thank all of those wonderful folks for their additional support it is extremely helpful I want to thank all of you guys for being the very best viewers in all of booktube and until I see all of you next time happy reading

25 thoughts on “SFF180 Editorial | Tagging Authors in Negative Reviews!?

  1. I love your take on this, especially your take on constructive criticism. During the writing or editing process, such criticism is approporiate, if the authour asked for it or if you are their publisher or editor. Any other situation: DON'T. Especially so if you are a private person reading a finished copy of a release at home. Your criticism cannot have a constructive impact on the book, therefore it is not constructive criticism. The End. Thank you Thomas.

  2. Wonderful take on this. Saw the article headline and slowly backed away. I don't thing tagging authors in reviews is necessary and for them but only for yourself in a strange sense of importance that they just have to know what you thought, probably hoping to get traffic through tagging the author. Not saying I have never tagged or interacted with an author, but tagging them to let them know that I really didn't like their book? That's just mean. And you are so right, authros will find your thoughts on their book if they so wish to do. It's not like we are hiding them.

  3. I submit book reviews to a local newspaper and I decided early on not to do any negative reviews at all. My reasoning for that is because if I say a book is not worth reading, I'm only telling people about the one book NOT TO READ among the thousands of books coming out that month, which doesn't really encourage anyone to actually go out and read something.

    Because I read about 4-5 books a month, I can usually find at least one book that's worth reading, and so a positive review on it may nudge someone in that direction.

    I also feel that since I don't write books, it's a lot easier for me to sit on my couch and pan bad writing. But I understand that that argument makes me a hypocrite. I appreciate that there are some people who negatively rate books (it definitely helps with my purchases). I just don't feel like I need (or am even qualified) to fill those shoes.

    It's weird that I don't have a problem saying I didn't like a movie on a message board, but I have a problem criticizing something when formally submitting an article. Maybe it's because I feel informal conversation (like an anonymous message board) is where creators can go if they really want to know what people think of their work. A newspaper article is more for the consumer than the creator.

    Side note: I remember someone saying that a true critic doesn't talk subjectively about whether they liked something or not, but merely explains whether the product fulfills its intended function. If that's what a "true critic" is, I'd rather not listen to them, because saying how you feel about something is too important and natural a thing to omit.

    Ramble off. 🙂

  4. Totally thought I was going make it through this video without laughing until you said ‘…Mistborn was so bad it made her spontaneously abort.’ 😂😂😂
    I don’t tag authors when I review their books & they still manage to find my little ass channel. I don’t believe that authors don’t go searching the internet for reviews of their books. They have google, too. So you don’t have to tag them to talk about their book. You can search any book title on ANY SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM and get search results for your query. I have to credit Book Riot for giving a space to someone who isn’t familiar with how the internet works. 🙄

  5. I won't tag authors in any review. Not positive, not negative. It feels icky to me and makes it seem like I want to benefit from their bigger platform in order to get clicks. :/ But then again, I also never use first names when discussing authors, whereas I know some people like to do that and appear more casual and friendly. I just find it odd, when I'm not in first name basis with them.

  6. Great video!! You exquisitely demolished that person’s stupid arguments haha

  7. As always, well said! 👏
    I read the article as well and was just horrified by the justification. How people can forget there is a real human on the other end of a social media account is something I’m still mystified by.

  8. Sensible and eloquent as always. I read that article and just cringed the entire time. What was that "librarian" thinking? I'm not going to dog pile her or anything, nor lead a crusade. I AM going to hope she never gets a publishing contract nor decides to do the indie author thing.

  9. I saw this article not too long ago and pretty much thought the same things. But I love the way you address this is in such an articulate way.

  10. Add to that the fact that the way media platforms arise and lose money you will see reputable publications hire idiots like this on a regular basis. Even youtube has lost many of its content creators because of demonetization. Rotten Tomatoes used to be decent but now Metacritic is more reliable. The bottom line is as a reader or digester of content it's difficult to find reliable reviewers and these subpar guys will end up getting a lot of clicks.

  11. Spot on Thomas! Thanks for the insight – and the laughs!

  12. Like sex… okay, but is it ok to pay a woman to constructively criticize me?

  13. Why would one put “risk” and “benefit” in scare quotes when using those words for THEIR LITERAL MEANINGS?

    Is the above a “sentence” and a “question?”


  14. I proudly follow the Beavis & Butt-head review method: It rocks or it sucks.

  15. I tagged a writer once, but he was in the forest already and I was tracking him for a nature documentary.

    (Looks around)


  16. Imagine arguing that it's okay to tell someone to their face "this thing you spent literal years working on sucks and here's a long, well-thought-out list explaining why" and still thinking you're a good person. Smh

  17. As someone who wants to one day publish something i'm in general agreement with the idea of avoiding reviews of any kind, not just negative ones, but negative ones aren't even the worst of it.
    I've come across at least one review in which I was seriously concerned about the mental stability of the reviewer in question both because they made wild accusations about an author being in support of slavery and abuse simply because their book contained said elements and because they seemed to willfully ignore any arguments to the contrary as someone being "equally misguided". This led me to foolishly try to reason with this reviewer and explain the purpose of said elements of the book (for a book and author that I didn't even like) and fall down a long unrewarding hole that I don't even want to go into except to say that I can now write a 10 page essay on the benefits of a book I really wanted to dislike but now simply disregard simply because of the ravings of what seemed like a lunatic. If the author of the book had fallen into such a hole it would have been a lot more public and a lot more damaging to their reputation even if said reviewer were actually mentally unbalanced.

  18. ….couldn't she just provide info on the author in the text of the review if it is that important to her?

    for me I don't push the reviews of any kind to the author. if I want to say something nice to them directly I send a tweet of the form "thank you for writing x it had y positive effect on me"

  19. I tend to separate the art from the author and can appreciate or criticize a book I read from them. I don't often manage it if an author is particularly nudging me to do something within the book that I don't want to do (like say sympathise with Rhysand's tragic backstory or gasp in awe at how awesome Kvothe is). But I won't go as far as tagging people. I did that when I was a twitter nub. Not now tho.

  20. Wow. I didn't know this was a thing. It seems incredibly arrogant to think that you have the right to go after an actual author for your one opinion about their book. Your opinion is not that important.

  21. This sounds like the same person who wrote that bookstagram article readwithcindy tore to shreds.

  22. Well spoken with appropriate levels of sarcasm. I've had just a single author comment on a video review and that was simply something along the lines of "I'm glad you enjoyed the book", which is about the only comment that could be made without it being awkward.

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