Contact with authors

The BookDepository

In the last week I have had contact with three authors. This is something I never expected when I started blogging, and has really added to the experience.

The first was when Caroline Rance commented on my review of her debut novel, Kill-Grief. This was the first time an author has ever commented on my review of their book. Caroline then went on to answer my questions about her research technique and then to blog about me!

It was so nice to meet an author who was so willing to answer my questions and join in the blogging experience.

Remember: There is still time to enter my competition to win a copy of Kill-Grief.

 
The next time I encountered an author was when Sam Taylor commented on my Who is going to be on the Man Booker Longlist 2009? post. I had predicted that his book, The Island at the End of the World, would make the Booker long list this year. Unfortunately it didn’t make it onto the list, but he appreciated my prediction and offered to send me a signed copy of his book. I’m really looking forward to reading it and am so happy to have had contact with him.

The final encounter was very different. I noticed that Emma Darwin’s blog had linked to me, so went to investigate. I discovered that she had seen my not-so-positive review of her book, A Secret Alchemy, and written a post about the difficulties of voicing historical fiction characters. I was very impressed by her response and wish that all authors displayed the humility that she did. It is a timely reminder that authors may well read your reviews, good or bad, so it is important that you write all reviews with this in mind.

Have you had any encounters with authors?

Which author has impressed you the most in their interactions with bloggers?


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42 Comments

  1. Simon S says:

    I really, really like having contact with authors as with a blog about books you want readers, publishers and authors to get involved. I have put up a few interviews with authors such as Tom Rob Smith and have three very exciting ones coming up. I am interested as to whether blog readers find them as interesting as blog writers themselves. I think they are. I love reading an intreview with an author. You might have never considered their books and they say something that makes you instantly want to read everything they have written. Great blog for debate and discussion Jackie!

    1. Jackie says:

      I have to admit that I find a lot of author interviews boring. If I have read the books then some are really good, but it really depends on the quality of the questions! I look forward to seeing who you are interviewing – I think they will be interesting as you are great at asking questions!

      1. kimbofo says:

        I’m with you, Jackie. I find author interviews a real turn off. I love reading their books but there’s really only so many questions you can ask, isn’t there? Mind you, I might be biased, as I have spent my working life (as a journo) asking people questions, so I’m not keen on doing more of the same in my online life.

        Great post, by the way. Blogging has certainly broken down the barriers between authors and readers, which has both positive and negative repercussions. I’ve had a few authors leave comments on my blog — the first time it was a shock! I’ve also had lots of authors contact me, offering review copies. I generally turn them down, as it feels a bit too close. What happens if you hate the book?

        1. Jackie says:

          I have a lot of authors asking me to review their books too. I do find it a bit close, but have taken the risk occasionally, when I feel their book sounds like something I’d love.

          I didn’t realise you were a journalist – I’ll have to ask you about that at the book group on Thursday!

          1. kimbofo says:

            Sadly, I won’t be at book group. I’m home in bed. Think I have bad dose of tonsilitis or early stages of swine flu. My throat is on fire and my body aches all over. Have spent most of today dozing, in between reading the odd blog or two. Strangely, I don’t seem to be able to muster the energy to read a book – my head is all over the place.

        2. Jackie says:

          Sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well. It sounds like swine flu – I had the worst sore throat ever!

          Hope you get better soon!

  2. Violet says:

    It feels really good when authors comment on your review or contact you, isn’t it? I have had a few authors comment on my reviews and it always feels good even if it’s a single line.

    I have authors mail me and explain their point to me if the review is not so good. Those are the authors I appreciate the most. Who try and explain their point of views but also keep in mind that not everyone has to like their book.

    1. Jackie says:

      I love authors commeting on my blog!

      I also love emails/tweets – in fact any author contact!

      I have never met one in person – I think I need to do something about that.

  3. Sandy says:

    This has happened to me before. I pretty much trashed The Memorist by M.J. Rose (hey! that one would have been a two star!), and struggled to read the follow-up The Reincarnationist, but forged through it and found it a tiny bit better (maybe 2.5 or 3 star). Then the author commented that she was glad I gave her the second chance. I was so embarrassed! I was really new, and really gave no thought to actual authors reading what I had to say. I’ve also gotten some other surprise comments from Katherine Center (Everyone is Beautiful) and Owen Sheers (Resistance). Luckily THOSE reviews were good!

    I am torn on author interviews. To be very frank, most of the questions that people ask these guys are not very original (there are exceptions- I liked Tom Rob Smith!), and you know the poor authors are sick to death of saying the same thing over and over. I personally prefer the guest posts where the author just muses on something. I think their personalities shine through more, and I am more apt to buy their books, versus hearing, for the billionth time, why they became a writer or what inspired their latest novel. That sounds kinda grumpy, I know, but it is an issue of mine.

    I did meet an author of a YA book. The author is local, and we really hit it off via e-mail. Then we started visiting each other’s blog. Then she did an event for my kids’ school at a Barnes and Noble. That was very very cool.

    1. Jackie says:

      I read the Halo Effect and didn’t really enjoy it, but had heard a lot of good things about the two you mention and was thinking of trying them. I think I’ll avoid them now, as I’d hate to end up in the same embarrasing situation that you did!!

      I agree – author guest posts can be great – I’d much rather have one of them than an interview.

      You have had so many author comments – I’m getting comment jealousy!!!

      I love the way you met your local YA author. I have had a few lovely email exchanges, but never come close to meeting any of them.

  4. cbjames says:

    I think you should give an interview a try. They’re much more fun to do than they are to read. I’ve done quite a few at this point and have enjoyed doing all but one of them. I try to do as much research as I can, read as much of their stuff as I can and to find questions that are outside of the usual boilerplate stuff.

    When you find a book you really like, send the author an email…..

    To be honest, I usually skip author guest posts myself. I read your blog to read you.

    1. Sandy says:

      I have to comment on James. He does amazing interviews. Not only does he thoroughly read the book that is being promoted, but sometimes ALL of the books the author has written. James is one of the best interviewers out there, in my humble opinion. (I hope you didn’t think I was referring to you CBJ).

    2. Jackie says:

      Like everything interviews can be done very well, or very badly. I tend to only find interviews interesting if I’ve read the book, although some people are just fascinating to hear about.

      I agree that the more you know about a person the better the interview would be, and while I can see that I’d get a lot of pleasure out of interviewing my favourite authors I think a lot of other people would find it dull to read.

      It’s something to think about though. Perhaps I’ll read a few more books by my favourite authors, then try to get in touch.

      1. cbjames says:

        I always do some research so I can avoid asking questions that an author has already been asked before as much as possible. I think doing your homework is the key to a good interview. It’s also homework I enjoy doing.

        I agree that it can be a chore to read an interview with someone you’ve never heard of before. I keep that in mind when I write up the questions. It’s harder to get interveiws with authors the more popular they are; mine’s just a humble blog with a small readership.

        1. Jackie says:

          Some of my favourite authors aren’t that well known, so it may be easier to arrange than most.

          I don’t think of your blog as small and humble. I think it is wonderful and I look forward to reading your next author interview!

  5. Jenny says:

    Shortly after I started book blogging, I posted a really cranky review about a book I’d read, and the author linked to it on her website. I felt so guilty – since then I’ve tried to be more careful about what I say in my negative reviews.

    1. Jackie says:

      I think you only do that sort of thing once! When you start blogging you have no idea about these things.

  6. Louise says:

    I haven’t met any International authors, but it is not too hard to get in touch with Danish authors, although most bestselling ones will not answer mails or letters at once. Once a year I go to a book convention where there are a lot of book signings and author talks, but I haven’t really “met” any authors as such, except for those I know personally for some reason :)

    1. Jackie says:

      I’ve never been to a book convention either. I really should try to visit one.

  7. Claire says:

    Congratulations, Jackie!

    I thought the comment by Sam Taylor alone was impressive but this is great for you and your blog. Keep up the good work ;) .

    I have encountered authors only at readings and signings.

    The writer who impresses me most with his gracious treatment of his fans is Neil Gaiman. He blogs, tweets, interacts online and is a wonderful reader at live events. I admire his great work ethic – he stays until every fan has had their book(s) signed, often hours later.

    I remember once at University one of my tutors said not to bother writers as they hate it and don’t need it; Neil Gaiman is the antithesis of that statement. At the time I was cross with my tutor (he was particularly ornery) as I think that writers do have some responsibility to their fans; no, they shouldn’t be hounded and are not just writing for out pleasure (but obviously their own creative gratification and often as a way of life) but it is nice to be gracious to fans as we are the ones buying and often appreciating and loving their books.

    Sarah Waters comes across as very humble and shy and very loyal to her fanbase.

    1. Jackie says:

      I’ve been impressed by Neil Gaiman too. He does seem to be very active in his treament of fans. I tried to get tickets to see him at the Edinburgh festival in a few weeks time, but they were sold out. Hopefully I’ll get to see him in person at some point though.

      I’d love to see Sarah Waters too – she is on the week after I leave – typical! I really should plan my trips further in advance!

      1. Claire says:

        I am envious of you going to the Edinburgh book festival!

        I considered it as I thought I would be home in Glasgow at the time but I’m not so I won’t. I’d love to see Neil Gaiman at all (so far have been to two of his events).

        Sarah Waters, I’ve seen three times at various things and she’s lovely.

        1. Jackie says:

          I’m not sure I’m going to see much of the book fesitval. I’ve got a few comedy tickets booked, but all the things I wanted to see at the book festival were on the wrong days or fully booked. I might try and see something, but won’t manage any of my favourites.

  8. A lot of authors set up Google alerts, so there’s a strong likelihood that they will read a review, even if it’s in some obscure corner of the internet (let alone a top book blog like this:) ). I think it would be awful if this inhibited reviewers from giving their genuine opinions, so don’t feel guilty about the less-than-positive ones.

    I feel very strongly that reviews are there to help other readers decide whether they would enjoy the book, not to massage the writer’s ego. If we want constant adulation we should get a puppy. This is not to say that a bad review won’t hurt, but that’s the chance we take and there is nothing tackier than an author being rude or threatening to a reviewer, as has been reported a couple of times recently in the news.

    1. Jackie says:

      If we want constant adulation we should get a puppy.

      I love it!!
      If only all authors in the world were as wonderful as you!

  9. I’m hosting a give away right now because I met an author, somewhat randomly, in real life, and told him about my blog. He’s done a guest post as well

    Here’s the link to the give away:

    http://bibliofreakblog.com/uncategorized/give-drama-queers/

    Meanwhile, I am working on an interview with another author. I had commented on a blog that was talking about nonfic books that read like novels. I mentioned this author’s but said I hadn’t reviewed his book on my blog because I’d lost it. A friend of the author’s showed his comment to him, and he contacted me, asking to replace my lost copy. He sent me an autographed hardcover! Then I went out and bought his newest one, and we’ve been e-mailing back and forth to work on an interview.

    Both experiences have been somewhat random, but very positive!

    1. Jackie says:

      Fate works in mysterious ways and random experiences are often the best!

  10. Congratulations! That’s amazing!

    I haven’t had the pleasure of an author leaving a comment on my blog yet, but, I did have a bizarrely random and “not-nice” comment from Zoe Heller’s husband. Go figure. Much as I love comments, I could do without those comments, I think!

    1. Jackie says:

      I remember seeing that comment from Zoe Heller’s husband – that was really weird! I wonder if he regularly comments on reviews for his wife’s book?

      1. And if yes, are they all that negative…..

  11. Bumbles says:

    I agree with Caroline’s comment that reviewers should review what they feel rather than trying to be nice. Otherwise, what’s the point? Not everyone likes the same thing. As long as you explain your reasons for your opinions who can be upset by that? And I think rebuttals are healthy if an author ever were to want to interact that way. You obviously do reviews the right way and I appreciate that as someone looking for honest takes on books.

    1. Jackie says:

      I think there are a lot of authors (or often fans of the authors!) who get very upset when someone doesn’t love evertything they’ve written. I try to make sure that I point out why the book wasn’t to my taste in each review, but I still worry that some authors will get offended. It doesn’t stop me writing reviews for books I don’t love, but it does feel bad sometimes.

  12. Jeanne says:

    I’ve had a number of comments and emails from authors since I started blogging about books a little over a year and a half ago. All the ones who’ve said anything to me said thanks for the review, even when it wasn’t uniformly positive. I find that YA authors are most responsive.

    So far I haven’t had any authors complain to me about a review. I’ve been holding my breath a little since I posted a really bad review (one person referred to it as a “verbal retch”) on July 29. But I edited it with the idea that the author might see it in the back of my mind. Because yes, most authors (especially if they have a website, which he does) have a google alert on their titles.

    1. Jackie says:

      I guess I haven’t written very many YA reviews, so haven’t experienced their love yet. I look forward to it!

  13. Kathy says:

    I have had some contact with authors through my blog and I still squeal every single time it happens. They are like rock stars to me!

    1. Jackie says:

      I agree – although I would be very excited if a rock star commented on my blog too!

  14. Nymeth says:

    I’ve had a few authors link to and/or comment on my posts, but I’m a bit of an odd duck in that it makes me nervous :P It’s not that I’m starstruck or anything like that, it’s that I have some social anxiety issues, and knowing that authors are reading my ramblings about their books makes me a tiny little bit uncomfortable, regardless of whether the review is positive or negative. I mean, it’s exciting too, of course, but…well, to sum it up, I’m weird :P

    It’s fantastic that you had such positive interactions this week, though! I’m happy for you :D

    1. Jackie says:

      I know what you mean – it is a bit weird. A bit like talking about someone behind their back, not knowing if they are going to over hear you or not.

  15. Interesting blog, Jackie, thanks.

    Er, re uncertainprinciples and the comment by Zoe Heller’s supposed husband, well, if this is an authentic comment by Zoe Heller’s husband I will eat my hat. It seems to me to be a spoof comment, clearly by someone pretending to be her husband. It illustrates very nicely the wild, unpredictable and unreliable nature of the internet. It’s not only well-meaning, well-intentioned, sincere people out there in cyberspace, but nutters and ranters and, er, idiots….

    The internet may very well be a democratising place, but it sure aint a reliable one…

    Keep up the very sincere and well-intentioned blog though — the net is great, isn’t it, when they are good folks out there!

    1. Jackie says:

      Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time!

      You’re right about the Internet not being very reliable – hopefully most of the things on my blog are true – but I have been known to make the odd mistake in the past!

  16. Claire says:

    I received my first blog comment from an author today :) .

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