I need one of those flowers. Did anyone else play that game with the petals? He loves me . . . He loves me not . . . He loves me . . . He loves me not. Is that from the Little Mermaid? (I tried to Google. Still can’t confirm where that’s from) I need one of those flowers so I can pick the petals. To comment . . . Not to comment . . .
I’ve seen a lot of blog posts lately about what authors should and shouldn’t do when responding to readers. I troll the internet looking for advice, and usually I find answers from wiser people than myself. But in this one case, I just end up confused.
Some things are easier to understand than others. I think it’s pretty obvious that yelling at reviewers is bad. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and when we're placing our work into the public domain we have to expect honest feedback. Sassing readers is probably not a good idea either, unless that’s your brand, and then if we’re being really honest here, I want to ask how the heck that works for you. Not only that, but on a personal note, I don’t particularly want to sass people online. I’d rather laugh and engage in pleasant conversation because I get enough sass in real life. I can’t unfollow people in real life, although I advocate that becoming an option.
There are obvious things (like throwing fits), but then there’s the in-between. I don't think I’m alone. More of you must be out there. We’re not going viral with our tirades, but we are trying to figure out when it’s appropriate to comment and when it’s not. I don’t want to alienate readers, so I wish I had more guidelines. When should authors comment? And when should we disappear into the background?
Personally, I respond to all e-mails and @ mentions on Twitter. I figure if you’re talking to me directly, then you’re probably okay with me responding back. I like meeting new people and talking books. I love following conversations on Twitter about authors and novels. It’s the way I’ve been picking the books I read lately. So if I can engage that way on Twitter, I want to.
But it’s not that simple . . .
What about the hot button issues like reviews, good or bad? In general, I feel like a blog is a blogger’s domain. I don’t like to invade where I’m not invited. I do comment if you have me as a guest for an interview or post. But I don’t generally post on reviews, because I don’t want to scare readers away. I want them to be able to speak honestly without thinking the author is eavesdropping.
I’d love to hear your advice. I’m just trying to muddy my way through the rules. It gets confusing when all the rules conflict. We can’t be everywhere online, but I like to think I’m assessable. If we could figure out a secret code between readers and authors it would make it a lot easier for me to follow. @ mention me on Twitter if you want to talk. Although, I know a lot of authors can’t always answer all their @ mentions because they get too many. So maybe that’s not an alternative. I wish I knew the answers. I’m a rule follower for the most part. When the rules get confusing, I start questioning.
I like to write stories about rebels, but in real life, I like to know expectations. I know we can’t pacify everyone and that sometimes we will offend people in one way or another. But this seems like a silly thing to offend someone over. If you don’t want me to comment on your blog, I won’t. If you don’t mind, I’d like to. Maybe it’s as simple as a blogger writing above their comments. “All Commenters Welcome!” on reviews or posts or whatever else. Then I wouldn’t feel like I was invading anyone’s space.
So what do you think? If an author pops into a conversation, do you find that intrusive? Do you like when authors speak (or more likely type) to you? Do you think that authors should only respond if you contact them directly?