Now that this whole thing has exploded, I feel that this may be a bit too little, and way too late. The sad thing is that I feel the whole shitstorm over at Strange Horizons is a derail from a debate we should have had a long time ago. A debate I was hoping the article I planned on writing would help start. My mistake was to wait a while. To the current debacle over on Goodreads had died down, so I could write my article in an atmosphere where there was no current incident to distract from important principles.
Of course, there was other things that delayed me writing about the issue of authors commenting. Other things I thought about, things happening in real life. Reading books, reviewing books, and the ever present general procrastination. And it was never like this was a problem that was likely to disappear all by itself, at least not in the immediate future. I can't write the article I thought about now, after all that has happened. But I can still write an article that focuses on what I wanted to say, instead of the current "shitstorm".
On this blog, authors are very much welcome. I personally have no problem interacting with authors, I do it regularly both on Twitter and Facebook. Some authors have contacted me after I've reviewed their books, usually with nothing more than a "thank you". But I really appreciate that. This is a small blog, and just knowing someone out there is actually reading it and care about what is said here feels good.
So, yes, if you are an author (,or editor or other publishing professional, ) you are more than welcome to engage on this blog, I don't mind at all. And it is after all I who run this little space on the internet.
However, if you are an author be aware that no matter if this is my blog, and I welcome you here, there may be people from other corners of the internet who will look on you unfavourable if you comment/engage here.
The problem is that there has been quite a lot of incident of what is most often called "Author Behaving Badly" or "Author Meltdown" online. Many of them have happened on Goodreads, leading to some people describing any incident there (, no matter what the facts in that particular case may be, ) as "Goodreads Drama".
One thing that almost all of these authors have in common is that they are self-published. For me that doesn't matter much, I only review books that are self-published if I know the author. And I highly doubt that they'll go ape-shit on my blog if I am critical of what they have written.
There have also been some incidents where published authors have gotten into an argument with a reviewer. And whatever the author does in those cases, the reviewer will have parts of the fan base attacking them. Yes, even if the author says clearly that they don't want their fans to engage.
Authors having meltdowns, and overzealous fans, are a very little problem if you consider the number of authors out there, but the cases where it happens usually get talked about. If you don't look at the detail of the individual cases it's very easy to get the wrong impression. -And that goes for everyone talking about "Authors Behaving Badly", and doubly for those that talk about "Goodreads Bullies".
I don't really think it is a problem at all. Author/reviewer/fan interactions happen in their thousands each day. If you take that into account the incidents where it blows up into a shitstorm are extremely few. But there is a lot of fear out there, perhaps from both sides, that it can happen at any moment.
This fear is what in my opinion leads to people on both sides of the author/fan divide (, if such a thing even exists, ) being a tad too sensitive and quick to jump to conclusions. Some fans feel they are hindered from talking at once if an author so much as shows their (avatar-)face, and some authors feel bullied out of the conversation if they are less than welcomed.
None of the above reactions need have anything to do with what is really going on, but I think everyone who travels in the book-sphere of the internet should be aware that it is how someone else may interpret things.
So, authors are welcome here. And so are anyone else. If they behave in a civil manner. But be aware that I can't control how anyone else feels when an author shows up, and neither can anyone else. And that is why we have been burdened with the unfair guideline that "Author's should never comment on reviews".
I'll end my rambling stream of thoughts here. I hope to see anyone who reads this in the comments on a post this blog if they feel like they have anything to say.
NOTE: The two badges are made by Gavin over at Gav Reads. (And I hope he'll forgive me for using them without asking permission first.)