To tag or not to tag

There have been a number of discussions on Twitter and Facebook recently amongst the bookblogger community on the subject of tagging authors in reviews.

Recently Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, requested that she not be tagged in negative reviews of her work. Note that she didn’t ask people to stop writing bad reviews, only that they didn’t tag her if they did.

She’s faced a load of online abuse for this position, and there has been a ton of chatter about it online.

So, should you tag an author in a negative review of their book?

I’m firmly in the ‘no’ camp here.

Whilst I tend not to write up negative reviews in the first place – I’d rather spend my time shouting about books that I love – I completely reserve the right to write an honest review based on what I think of a book.

However, I wouldn’t go and shove that opinion under the author’s nose. Doing so wouldn’t achieve anything – the book is written and out in the world. The author can’t, and almost certainly wouldn’t change anything in that book. Also, it’s just rude. You wouldn’t walk up to someone in the street and go ‘hey, that shirt looks awful‘ to someone, would you?

This brings me to an interesting point. Would you tag an author in a positive, glowing review?

Why?

There are a few reasons why I would, and do.

If I’ve loved a book, I want to tell as many people as possible about it. I also want the author to know that I’ve loved it. It’s a little way of saying thanks for writing it.

I’m a firm believer in saying thanks. I had a spectacular bowl of ramen the other day and made a point of going back to the guys who made it to say how much I’d enjoyed it. They seemed genuinely thrilled that someone had taken a few moments to come and say hello.

But am I being presumptuous? Do the big-name authors really care what I think? I am but a humble book blogger. Why does my opinion matter to them? Chances are it doesn’t, but it might. And writing can be a lonely place, sharing your day with a keyboard and screen. I know that I’m thrilled when someone likes a blog post I’ve written, or retweets a review, or best of all, buys a book that I’ve raved about.

Or best of best of all, tells me when they’ve bought a book that I’ve raved about, then goes on to tell the author that they’ve loved their book.

That’s what it’s about, after all. The love of books, and the love of sharing our love of books.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

10 thoughts on “To tag or not to tag”

  1. Great post, Dave. I am also firmly in the ‘no’ camp and have now stopped tagging the author of the book I’m reviewing altogether – be it good or…not so good. I don’t write my reviews for the author. I write them for other readers. Sure, authors like feedback but they can get that from literary critics rather than me. Other bloggers tagging the author in MY review makes me uneasy too. Particularly as I have some reviews of books I found a little ‘meh’ coming up 🤦

  2. That author didn’t mention negative reviews to begin with and just said all reviews and then changed it/clarified it to negative reviews which is where a lot of the hate came from.

    Tagging in negative reviews. Hell no, it is wrong and I will never understand why people do it.

    Tagging in positive reviews? Unless you have seen an author specifically ask not to be tagged in any reviews then hell yes, be it Stephen King or an unknown author I will tag them. I doubt they care, especially not someone Like King, the unknown author, maybe but they might like, retweet or share the review and that is always appreciated and a nice thing to happen. If they don’t, they don’t but tagging them gives them that opportunity and lots of authors seem to love interactions with fans, bloggers, reviews and share them, etc.

    Also, if I love a book, whoever reads the review, the few that do anyway will know that I loved the book and if I tag the author, whether they look at the tweet or not, care or not. Me tagging them is saying, here, I loved the book, thank you for writing it and that’s why we tag in positive reviews, to tell the author that we loved their book.

  3. I don’t post negative reviews and if I did I wouldn’t tag the author! I do, however, tag authors in my reviews because often they have specifically requested me to read their book because they need reviews to get it out there. I don’t expect authors to respond (or even read my review) but more often than not I get emails or DMs saying how my review has brightened their day or given them a boost so I shall carry on!

  4. Completely agree! If it’s a review for a book that I thought was ok, or those rare occasions when I write a review for a book I didn’t like, then I wouldn’t tag the author in – no one needs that.
    For the books I enjoyed, I will often tag the author and / or publisher in – as you say, it’s a way of letting them know you enjoyed it. I don’t expect anything in return though. Like Drew said, it’s obviously nice when your review is acknowledged, but I’d never assume that just because I’ve tagged someone in that I’ll get any kind of response.

  5. I wrote a long post arguing for tagging authors in all reviews. Among other reasons, not tagging authors in negative reviews means giving the author a vote on whether the review is negative (authors have a remarkable capacity for interpreting a review as negative). I’m not going to waste time worrying about whether an overly sensitive author is going to take offense.
    https://everydayshouldbetuesday.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/why-i-will-be-tagging-authors-in-my-reviews/

    That being said, I generally stopped tagging authors altogether not all that long after writing that post. Generally speaking, the less author interaction the better. Better to just pretend they don’t exist.

  6. If you’re tweeting that you’re really enjoying a book, or you’re excited to start reading something, then I definitely think it’s fine to tag an author, but I’d never tag someone on a full review, good or bad. Many authors and other creatives avoid reviews altogether, and I think pushing it on them is a bit rude.

    If what you wrote is just “I love this book” expanded to the length of a review with no real commentary, then I suppose maybe it would be okay, but I still wouldn’t.

  7. Awesome discussion! I am also firmly in the no camp for not tagging authors in negative reviews. When it comes to positive reviews, the only reason I don’t do it is my own anxiety/shyness- so I actually think when people do it they’re trying to be nice- after all, who doesn’t like receiving compliments? (especially in an industry where it’s all too common to get rejection)

  8. I wouldn’t want to tag an author in a negative review. I mean, I’ve had a few 3-4 star reviews where I’ve liked the book but had a couple of critiques and when the authors have “liked” those reviews I feel a little bit like a jerk, even though I didn’t tag them.

    The Internet is wild, anyone anywhere can say whatever they want about anything. It’s got to be really hard for artists to avoid negative feedback so I don’t think book bloggers should add to it.

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