For one, I'm reading my new shiny books and having a blast so far. Two down, eight to go! Though you might say I'm savouring them, as opposed to swallowing the whole pack in a hunger frenzy.
Secondly, I'm bursting with blog ideas, which seem to have a penchant for haunting me when I happen to wake up in the middle of the night. I might as well get up and write my blog posts then, because I swear, they would be enchanting. Too bad I love my bed even more than I love my books and music (I'm not even kidding), so, come morning, I'm left with a bunch of awesome ideas (because luckily, they seem to stick, at least for the most part), but I've lost the equally awesome wording I had come up with during those night interludes. I should probably write the stuff down on a piece of paper at least, but again, my bed is king.
|BED IS HEAVEN. PERIOD|
Anyway, I was working on my Black Knight review yesterday, but
made a point to get distracted by some pleasant errands, not to mention Twitter thought I'd better take care of a few other things first. So, after my usual Goodreads and Twitter routine, I explored a handful of links, came up with some author questions for a blog post, emailed said questions, saved new favourites and documents on a pendrive, then got wild and emailed Christopher Pike. I had a question about Black Knight (or better, the whole Witch World series) that I wanted to take off my chest before actually reviewing the book...plus I added a couple more things. To my utter amazement, I got a reply less than 90 minutes after. Picture me wowed. As usual when it comes to his interactions with fans, Mr. Pike was polite and exhaustive (despite keeping it short), but didn't go out of his way to be what you'd call friendly. It's understandable, I guess, in his position. Though I would have liked him to say a word or two about the page I dedicated to his work on my blog (I sent him the link). Just the "thanks" word, you know. He didn't even need to actually go there and take a look. On the other hand, again, I suppose he has to be wary of giving too much rope to perfect strangers. I think he actually scared himself when he wrote Master of Murder LOL.
|I'M WATCHING YOU|
Now, you might think I'm digressing, but I'm not. Well, not that much. Because the whole emailing-Christopher-Pike thing is somehow related to the topic I'm bringing you today. [...]
Like I said, I'm not friends with Christopher Pike. Not even close. I only talked to him a couple of times on Wattpad prior to yesterday's email, and I'm sure he forgot me as soon as he finished replying to my messages/comments. Then again, I doubt any fan is friends with him, with the possible exception of the guys who created his Facebook page and are still taking care of it to this day. Pike aside, I wonder how many authors are friends with the people who read their books and promote them and swoon over them - unless they know one another in real life, that is.
Now, a few days ago I read the insightful discussion post by Sophia from Bookwyrming Thoughts, titled What the Fudge Is a Celebrity/Popular Blogger? (which if you haven't read already, I strongly encourage you to). Among other things, Sophia mentions another post appeared on Nick & Nereida's Infinite Booklist - and if you have a few minutes to spare, please read it too (unless you already have, because from what I gathered, it accidentally caused a bit of commotion on Twitter...go figure), since it inspired today's post.
OK, so, in short, the article in question - among other things - mentions those bloggers who act like they're all buddy-buddy with authors, constantly talk about/to them, tag them on Twitter and stuff. Which got me thinking. Because, while I don't think I'm guilty of such behaviour - since everything I do is in the authors' interest, and out of genuine enthusiasm...not in order to secure ARC copies of their books or to get into their virtual pants - I understand that not everyone may see it that way. Namely those people who come across my posts/tweets by chance and don't really know me. (If knowing someone online is truly possible...but that's a whole different story).
|THAT'S NOT ME WITH ONE OF MY AUTHORS|
I've had several interactions with authors (I mean emails or private exchanges) in my short blogging life. Some of them I seeked out, some reached out to me themselves. Some I actually proposed to as a reviewer, and out of those who replied (let's say, 80% roughly), a couple (20% roughly) did have their publisher sending me an ARC, or explained to me how to secure an advanced copy via other channels, because they thought my blog - small as it was/is - was a good fit. Which made me feel guilty as hell when the books came, and I didn't enjoy them as much as I though I'd have. I felt guilty because I had contacted the authors directly (them being debut authors from small presses, I though I'd have a better chance) and out of real expectations for their books, and they went out of their way to make sure I got a copy, so I felt like an ungrateful brat for not loving said books as much as I thought I would...and (I should probably keep this to myself, because it might ruin my reputation/credibility as a blogger, but see how honest I am), I went out of my way myself in order to sugarcoat my reviews just a little, even giving said books the additional half star.
I still feel guilty as hell, also because of all the other books I honestly rated such and such.
So, to keep a long story short, I resolved NOT to approach authors directly anymore - unless it's for a question about their books, or to compliment them on the ones I have enjoyed.
|I REGRET NOTHING. BUT STILL|
Then, there are the authors I do have interactions with to this day, because we have a history. Only, we're not "friends". Let's drop a couple of names, because why not.
You all know I'm a huge fan of B.C. Johnson. I first messaged him on Goodreads as far back as 2013, with a question about his first novel. He replied with a warm and thorough message. The novel in question, Deadgirl, had been around for only a short while before his publisher collapsed and the book itself became unavailable. But Mr. Johnson was working hard at being on the market again, and all the time he was doing that, I found myself campaigning for his book and - with my scarce resources - doing my best to support him, just because I thought it was a shame that his book was out of print and he hadn't a publishing house anymore. I wasn't fishing for ARCs. I wasn't trying to become his friend (for the record, I'm 19 years his senior, so it would probably be awkward LOL). I was just following my book-loving guts. Also, I thought (still think) he was a great guy who deserved a new chance. So I was really happy when he announced he had a new contract, and his book (completed with sequels) would hit the market again.
After a while, Mr. Johnson asked if I was interested in reviewing another book of his (this one self-published for a number of reasons), and I said yeah, sure, I'd love to. That would be The Bad Rescue of Devon Streeter. I was actually a little scared of maybe not liking it as much as Deadgirl, but I ended up falling in love with it too, to the same extent. I didn't talk myself into it. Again, a gut thing. (And If you're wondering why I boosted up Deadgirl's rating from the original 4.5 to 5, blame it on my guts again. I know one is not supposed to go back and change ratings, but after reading several books in these latest three years, I finally realised that some of them are too precious for my nitpickiness to take over. I did the same thing with Luna-C by Jutta Goetze, just so you know).
Now, what with the Deadgirl sequel coming up, I'm at it again. Talking about the books, because yes, they're worth it. Mentioning B.C. Johnson or tagging him on Twitter, because this is my oh-so-small-blog mission: to bring good books and worthy authors to everyone's attention.
Another pretty intense interaction I've been having with writers involves Erin Callahan and Troy H. Gardner, authors of the Mad World series (in progress). Erin contacted me in 2013 with review purposes, and I truly appreciated how she had taken the time to peruse my blog and take my book preferences into account before she asked. Now, I gave the first Mad World book Wakefield 3 stars, because as much as I appreciated it on the whole, I had a few issues with it, mainly the pace. I upped my rating to 3.5 stars for the second installment Tunnelville, because I found it stronger and more action-y. I rated the third book Perfection 4 stars because things had started to heaten up by then. But ever since my first review, Erin and Troy have been respectful of my opinion and happy with my insight of their books (which is not the same thing as giving them a number of stars).
Since I've joined Twitter, both Erin and Troy have been following me, and me them of course. While the one I've been directly talking with all this time is Erin, I also interact with Troy on there if there's a reason I find valid - or even amusing - enough. I make a point to be their cheerleader, because again, I think they're worthy, and super-nice. Also, Erin honoured me with her trust a few months ago when she asked if I were up for beta-reading her first solo project (among other people of course). I was happy to read a new book, yes - but first of all, I was happy to help. To be trusted. To act as a sounding board (again, among other people). To be able to participate in someone's creative project, if from a distance. And no, I'm not going to rate the final outcome a million stars just because I did all this. I only will if I think it fit. I'm sure Erin knows, just like Troy knows, just like B.C. knows. I'm not their buddy, even when I talk with them in private, or one of them (that would be Erin) comments on my blog. I never ask about their kids or their day jobs, or even if it's cold or hot in their corner of the world. It's not because I don't care - it's because I want to go on promoting their books and rating them as honestly as I can. Doing what I felt driven to do since the day I started my blog. We may have fun together because of a pun one of us made, or wish one another a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, whatever. And I do think they are great guys with whom I could probably talk about a million things, regardless of my being just a tiny bit older than they are ;D. But I do my best not to cross the line, and they do the same, and you know? it's the way it should be. It feels right.
Now, I don't really think that the post I linked to above (Nick and Nereida's confessions) applies to me. But it made me reconsider some things I do out of sheer enthusiasm, and how they could - maybe - be misinterpreted. I should probably find a way around them. I don't want people to think I'm a fake. I don't want them to think the authors I promote are a fake. Godness forbid all my efforts should backfire. So I'm going to be just a little bit more cautious with my posts/tweets from now on. Assuming that I can...Because let's face it, it's not easy. Enthusiasm, remember? The strong pull towards making a small difference for "my authors" - maybe once, maybe one day. The consuming desire of letting the world know they exist, and they are worth a chance. But then again, I don't want this thing to backfire, so there. I have still so much to learn in this game called book blogging.
So, well, this was kind of an essay. Or a whole dictionary ;D. Please bear with me. It's your turn now...Because I want to know: when promoting books or interacting with authors, where do you draw the line that shouldn't be crossed? Are you particularly close to any authors (and don't worry, we don't need names LOL)? Do you think - and please, be honest! - that a behaviour like mine can be misinterpreted by an occasional reader? Thank you and get wild now! :D