I recently came across an article about tagging authors on social media for bad book reviews from The Guardian and wanted to discuss the topic further. The article specifically mentions YA author Angie Thomas (author of The Hate U Give), who recently posted this on Twitter:
Since this post went up, Thomas has been attacked for her desire to not be tagged for negative reviews. The hate has come from Twitter mentions, Facebook groups, and other platforms. As Read Yourself Happy focuses on, well, being happy, I’m not going to show or quote the hateful comments here, because it would serve absolutely no purpose. Suffice it to say, the people now targeting Angie Thomas are doing so on the following bases:
- Authors are public figures and as such should not be able to dictate who tags them and why
- Thomas is somehow being rude for requesting such a thing (I really don’t understand this argument at all)
- Let’s ban her books because ALL THE ANGER.
Here’s how I feel about this drama: the internet is already a crude and hateful place. Is it really necessary to let authors know that you don’t like their work? Would you go up to them in person and tell them you hated their book? You probably wouldn’t. So, do you need to tag the author on Twitter in your one-star review? No, you don’t.
If an author doesn’t want to be attacked on social media, that’s their right. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are constantly full of drama that is 100% unnecessary.
For authors that do want to read negative reviews, all they have to do is Google themselves. I’ve had authors find my negative reviews and comment on them. It’s not hard for them to find.
How to Handle Writing Negative Reviews
As a book reviewer, I’ve written plenty of bad reviews. I never tag authors in my Twitter links, however. I only tag an author if I’ve given them a four or five-star rating because at that point I’m complimenting them. Just like I wouldn’t walk up to Stephen King and say, “Hey, I thought your novel Elevation was trash!”, I also wouldn’t @ him on Twitter to say the same thing.
There’s nothing wrong with writing bad book reviews. After all, book reviews are for other readers more than anyone else. You absolutely should share your bookish opinions.
If you want to post a link to your social media account, you still can! Just don’t @ the author! If you must, you can use a hashtag (such as, #angiethomas), which means you’re not actually notifying the author that you hated their book, you’re just making it easier for people curious about their work to find your review.
Authors and anyone else in the public eye are real, actual people with feelings. Don’t be a dick. Be nice on social media and make the internet better for everyone, please.
If you want to read a different opinion on the topic, here’s an article that was posted over at Book Riot.