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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Do You Follow Yourself Around The Web? by James L. Rubart

Have you set up Google Alerts for yourself? If you’re a published author I’m guessing you said, yea verily and you click around the internet to see what’s being said about you and your novels.

(Google Alerts sends an e-mail when something new is posted about you on the web. Authors can see what reviews, blog posts they’re mentioned in, articles, books being sold illegally—all sorts of fun stuff.)

To Comment or Not to Comment, That is My Question

If you’re an author and you see a blog post reviewing your novel, do you comment? Or do you stay silent? If someone raves about you on Facebook, do you "like" it? Or observe from afar?

I asked Allen Arnold (former Publisher and Sr VP of Fiction at Thomas Nelson) about blogs the other day and he says, “I advise authors to never comment. First, it makes an author look desperate, as if they’re scouring the internet trying to find someone that likes them. 

"Second, having the author pop in unannounced can make them feel like someone is looking over their shoulder. Rarely a good thing. 

"And third, it makes the blogger feel less free to give their true opinion.”

I posed the same question to an author friend of mine and she said the opposite. “I comment on all blog posts about my books. Even the ones that post unfavorable reviews. 

"I think bloggers want to know if their posts are reaching readers. And that authors care about what the bloggers do to promote novels. A lot of times I get a blogger thanking me profusely for stopping by. 

"They can’t believe the author took the time to read the review and comment. It means a lot to them.”

Your Turn

If you’re a blogger, do you like it when authors show up to comment? Or is a bit of a creep factor?

If you’re pre-published, do you think you’ll comment when Google sends you an alert?

If you are published, do you comment on blog posts about you and your novels? Why or why not?

James L. Rubart is the best-selling, award winning author of four novels. Publishers Weekly says this about his latest: “Readers with high blood pressure or heart conditions be warned: [Soul’s Gate] is a seriously heart-thumping and satisfying read that goes to the edge, jumps off, and “builds wings on the way down.” During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps authors make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and loves to dirt bike, hike, golf, take photos, and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at


Edie Melson said...

Jim, this is a great topic. As a blogger, I always let an author know when I've mentioned his book. And I invite them to stop by, but stress there's no pressure for them to do so. My readers are always thrilled when the author leaves comments.

As for my books, I've come to a sort of compromise. If the blogger contacts me about the review and asks me to drop in I definitely do, and I've had a fair number do this. If I see a Google alert about a review or even a mention, I'll find a way to send a private message to the blogger and thank them. From this I've often had invitations to drop by and leave a comment or even do a follow-up interview. Just like when I visit someone's house, I never do so unannounced.

sally apokedak said...

I had a book blog for years and I loved it when authors took the time to comment. I was promoting their books and I thought it was decent of them to return the favor. When they left comments, and especially when they linked to my posts wherein I mentioned them, they were helping my blog gain visibility and traffic.

I still promoted authors who never commented, but I'm human and I must admit that the authors I liked best and promoted the hardest in the end were the ones who appreciated my efforts and who were willing to help me by giving me reciprocal links.

Neil Gaiman stopped by and left a couple of comments on my blog after I said I couldn't finish his books because I never connected with his characters. I was thrilled that he came over.

Johnnie Alexander Donley said...

I've just stepped onto this road so it's timely to see different sides of the issue. It hadn't occurred to me that a blogger might NOT want an author to comment. I like Edie's approach. Thanks to you both.

Michael Ehret said...

I like the idea of being in conversation with readers--wherever they are. While I can see Allen's points, I do like Edie's approach.

If someone comes to visit me at my site, I consider it rude not to acknowledge that. Same for Twitter followers, etc.

So, it's another of those fine line things ...

Jim Rubart said...


Great counsel. I'm the same. If invited I'll often comment. If not, I stay away.

Love your visiting someone's home analogy,


Jim Rubart said...

And you didn't invite these authors? They just showed up and that was great by you?

Jim Rubart said...

I'm thinking Edie might need to get into Social Media coaching ... oh, wait! She does that!

Gina Holmes said...

Interesting that he should say that. I will sometimes comment and have always gotten the feeling it freaks the blogger out like I'm stalking. I attributed this to paranoia and still might. ha. But, if I put myself in their shoes, and have an author comment on one of my reviews, I'm not freaked out, just usually feel a little guilty if the review had even one negative comment amongst positive. I still comment sometimes and will probably keep doing so here or there when the mood strikes. I'm not sure there's one right answer to this. I won't comment on negative reviews. That almost never turns out well.

Jim Rubart said...

I think that's what Allen was saying. That it might feel like stalking. I like Edie's idea of contacting the blogger privately.

Nicole said...

I think the professionals can be out of touch with the readers of their novels. I'm not saying Mr. Arnold's advice is particularly bad or good. I review a lot of novels, a very few memoirs and non-fiction. I'm honest and only give a sterling review if the book merits it based on my tastes.

I appreciate an author stopping by to acknowledge the review even when I note some negative points. What I don't appreciate is the author who stops by to plug their next book and when it will be released.

I'm a novel writer. Comments are important to me. I read all the books I review. If we're talking Amazon, that's a different story. I would prefer a private acknowledgment from the author if any at all from an Amazon review. Different story on my blog.

As always: JMO.

sally apokedak said...

No, I didn't invite them. I never sent my reviews to the authors or the publishing houses. But I always enjoyed it when authors would leave comments on my posts. It was especially nice if they left comments on posts that were put up before or after their reviews.

Bloggers live on traffic. Authors leaving comments and linking to your site build traffic. I not only loved getting comments from authors, I'd blog about the comments in the days to follow. I wanted to call attention to their comments. I'd say, "Just in case you missed it, on Tuesday, Author Extraordinaire popped in to say this or that and I want to answer him here..." Because 1) blogging that feels like conversation keeps people coming back (if they want to join in the conversation), and 2) when you have authors stopping by you gain credibility in the eyes of your regular book readers, who all love authors.

Jackie Castle said...

This is an interesting topic. I host a kidlit blog and when I asked fellow bloggers if it's okay to contact the author to let them know I featured their book on my blog, they discouraged me from doing that. I don't review books. My interests is in introducing books to parents and offering activity ideas to help enhance reading.

I agree that an author who stops by to comment or links to my site does help me grow readers. So... I'm interested in the responses and will check back later to see what others also say.

As an author, I'd appreciate a note from a blogger if they in some way promoted or reviewed my book. But I'm new at the author part. I've also heard conflicting advice on if an author should respond to a review or blog post or not.

Thanks for writing about this.

Janice C Johnson said...

When I review a book on my blog, I consider a courtesy to let the author know. I didn't know about Google Alerts, so I've been sending a link if I can.

I don't see a downside to doing so. Last summer I reviewed a novel by some guy named Jim Rubart, then alerted him to the post via his website. He seemed to appreciate it, via return email.

The only author who has commented directly to a review on my blog was already a friend. Of course that didn't creep me out. I'm no expert, being pre-published as far as novels go. A useful and interesting topic, to be sure.

Marji Laine - Faith-Driven Fiction said...

As a blogger, I've always loved having the author stop by and leave a comment when I mention them or their books. It never occurred to me that the practice might be questionable.

I often will email to let them know that I've done a review for them, but I feel more comfortable emailing the authors I've connected with and feel a little awkward writing to those who don't know me at all.

I love Edie's advice, though. The only thing I would add is for authors to be sure to respond, if at all possible, to those reviewers who do email. I don't usually pay attention to things like that, but because I already feel uncomfortable contacting a total stranger to announce my review of their book, I tend to remember those who don't visit and won't generally contact them again. That is, if I review another of their books.

Katie Ganshert said...

Sometimes I comment, sometimes I don't. Depends on my mood, which isn't very scientific, or intention, is it?

BUT! I will say, I did a vlog review of Mitch Albom's latest, The Time Keeper. Mitch is a big name author. I didn't even think to let him know, b/c why would he care about a little bitty review by me? Yet he left a comment on the youtube video and I got all kinds of giddy about it! I was touched that he not only found the video but took the time to thank me for the review. If anything, it made me a bigger fan.

Katie Ganshert said...

Whoops - I meant intentional, not intention. :)

Jim Rubart said...

Yeah, don't you love those who use every opportunity to promote themselves ... uh, not so much.

Jim Rubart said...

I agree, Jackie. If a blogger contacts me I appreciate it and will most likely visit the blog.

Jim Rubart said...

I'd be careful about that Jim guy ... but I'm sure he did appreciate you. :)

Jim Rubart said...

Just one author's vote here, Marji, but I love it when reviewers contact me.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Jim Rubart said...


Great story, Katie. Thanks for telling us.


Renee said...

I'm a blogger who posts many book reviews. I've always wondered why authors don't stop in and comment when we're talking about their books. I figured I ran too small a venue for them to bother with. I'm glad to know that folks like Mr. Arnold were advising authors not to comment. Now I know they may not be as reserved and distant as I assumed! By the way, I just ordered Soul's Gate. Should I contact you when I review? :)