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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

To Be A Creepy Author Stalker, or Not to Be. That’s My Question

by James L. Rubart

“There’s a post on Facebook about ROOMS you might want to take a look at.”

My wife mentioned this to me last week as I was working on an omelet. I took a peek. 

The remark was posted on a Facebook group I’m a member of. It was from a lady who essentially commented on how, um, well ... utterly amazing the novel is. (Sorry, I always have a hard time not feeling like I’m tooting my own horn when I quote readers.)

There were quite a few comments back and forth from others in the group (both pro and con) and as I scrolled through the thread I debated whether to stay silent or jump in. 

I stayed silent. 

What Would You Have Done?

On one hand, the lady who was so enthusiastic about the novel might have enjoyed me getting involved in the discussion. “Hey, the guy who wrote the book is here? Cool!” And I am a member of the group. 

On the other, it might have come across as a little creepy. As if I’m scouring the internet, watching for people who like my books like Big Brother, then throwing back the curtain and jumping into the party without really being invited.

It Comes Down to Our Readers

Like probably all of you, I was a reader a lot longer than I’ve been an author. Putting myself in a reader’s shoes, if one of my favorite authors commented on a blog post, or Facebook comment of mine, part of me would be thrilled, and part of me would find it disconcerting. 

In the end (for me) the disconcerting part was is a little bigger, so I kept my laptop on mute.

Your Turn

If you’re published, how have you handled scenarios like the above? If it hasn’t happened yet, how do you think you’ll react when it does?

If you’re not yet published, how would you feel if an author you’ve never heard of (before reading their novel) dove into a social media discussion based on your comments? Excited? Exited and a little weirded out? Only weirded out?

Gotta go, the FB app on my phone just buzzed ...  

James L. Rubart is the best-selling, Christy award winning author of seven novels as well as a professional speaker. During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps authors and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife in the Pacific Northwest and loves to dirt bike with his two sons, hike, golf, take photos, and still thinks he's young enough to water ski like a madman. More at


  1. Liked your post. If I hadn't been invited to comment in a group setting, I'd probably stay quiet as you did, Jim. However, my website offers a place for comments on every page. I'm delighted when readers leave comments on my website, and I respond personally to them all.

  2. What makes a difference for me is whether or not I was tagged in the conversation. If someone tagged me, I see that as an invitation that says, "Hey, we're talking about you, and we wanted you to know it." If I wasn't tagged, but just happened to come across the conversation, then it does feel more like trolling or creeping.

    It's sort of the difference between a group of people after church circled 'round for a conversation. If they holler and motion you over to join the group (like a tag) you're more than welcomed...might even be seen as rude if you DON'T join in. But if you just edge closer and closer and finally insert yourself into the conversation (like a creeper), they might not be quite as happy to see you. :)

    For sure, if the things they were saying about me or my book were less than flattering, it would NOT be a good idea to get involved in the conversation, simply because I'd embarrass those who said something negative, just as if I'd walked in on a real-life gossip session where I was the topic of gossip.

  3. I was in the hallway of a writers conference once when Jim Rubart stalked me. Oh, Jim,! Hey. LOL Totally off the subject but fun to tease you. I'd do like Deb, unless the used your name so it "tagged" you. Then I've clicked "like' but stayed out of the conversation.

  4. Seems like we all do the same thing. I take a "tag" as an invitation to join the conversation, but usually then, I just "like" the posts mentioning me. It's an acknowledgment or a thank you for the person's thoughtfulness, but it doesn't feel as obtrusive as jumping into the mix myself.

  5. Really great thoughts, all. In this case, I was tagged so good idea for next time to "like" the comments, or maybe even say hello.

  6. I'm not published (yet) so I'll respond as a reader. I love to read and I'll absolutely post on my social media outlets if I love a book and I would probably have a mini heart attack if said authors "liked" my comment. For many readers (and new writers) we often feel like those who have achieved publishing success are beyond reach but when an author engages-wow! I'll never forget when I met a pretty famous writer and he took the time to talk to me about writing. I was on cloud nine for weeks.

    As a side note I often do book reviews and I had to think what I would do if an author posted an actual comment on one of my reviews...I never want to hurt someone's feelings but I try to be honest about what I like and don't like about a story. If I knew the author might comment it would make me think twice about what I'm posting so for that reason I think a "like" is best.

  7. I've thanked people for nice reviews when I've come across them and more often than not, I get the feeling my doing them has freaked them out a little. Usually, I don't now.

  8. As a reader, if I want to compliment an author publicly, I'll usually tag them. I want them to be encouraged and blessed. I'm usually aware of which authors are active on Facebook and enjoy interacting with readers. If I'm sharing something about them on Twitter, I'll mention them so they don't feel talked about behind their backs. And I know they might want to retweet any mentions for marketing purposes.

  9. Jim, I agree with Deb on this one. If there's a comment on a discussion group of which I'm a member, and I feel like I've been "invited" in, I might add my two cents worth. But take it a step further. Are you ever tempted to respond to a review on Amazon or Goodreads--especially a bad one? Man, I've almost had to tie my hands behind me to keep from doing that.

  10. Appreciate the insight, Natalie/Gina/sondrakraak.

    Good question, Doc. The only time I responded to a review on Amazon was when a reviewer described one of my novels a reverse Dorian Gray. I commented that it wasn't. Another person said how cool it was that the author had commented. The original poster said they were stupid, that the actual author would never take the time to comment. It was pretty funny.

  11. I agree that being tagged is a direct invitation to join in. On the other hand -- & there always seems to be another hand -- what if they know you're a member and they've seen you comment on other posts in the group? That might lead them to wonder why you didn't show gratitude for the thumbs-up review.

    Or maybe I'm over-thinking it.

  12. I often tag authors when I tweet reviews, and don't mind if they then thank me by retweeting, marking as favourite or even visiting my blog and commenting. And I don't mind authors commenting on my blog, especially when they've asked e for the review.

    But I do find it a little creepy if they visit my blog out of the blue and thank me for the review, especially if the review was a little critical.

    Commenting on Amazon ... I used to think it was cool if an author took the time to comment on an Amazon review. But that was back before Vine and NetGalley exploded, filling Amazon with reviews. Now it seems more stalkerish than cool (a view which isn't helped by one high-profile author who really needs to be kept away from Amazon).


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