Beyond the Blurb | Should We Bloggers Stop Tagging Authors in Reviews?

Who’s ready for another discussion post?

When I first started out, I loved the fact I could interact with authors. But etiquette is a delicate matter to uphold, especially on the Internet where anything and everything can be screensaved and reposted. Over the last year, I’ve noticed that the Twitter book community has jumped on the cancel culture bandwagon. Now, some situations deserved that treatment, but not others.

So are we all that surprised there was another Twitter scandal? Give me a second to stop cackling. Let’s get to the next one. Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, announced that we reviewers should stop tagging authors in reviews. Now, at the time, the wording was slightly different from what she’d meant to say. Take a look:

Perhaps the words “good reviews” are what stuck with everyone, who took offence. That assumption is what I came up with, but I can be wrong. Maybe the mention of all authors is what bothered people. And I see why some reviewers would feel somewhat offended. Many of us find our next favourite books from other readers. And often times, I see several authors retweet reviews, which made me look at their titles.

Later on, she clarified that she meant the bad ones, which is completely understandable. I haven’t written in several years, nor have I drawn anything since high school. But as a creator, I hate criticism. Yes, it comes with the territory of creating. However, criticism easily morphs into criticizing. The two concepts blur together. So I’ll never criticize authors for separating their work and their mental wellbeing.

So how do we handle a situation that has turned into some Internet brawl? Cue the music for the upcoming tips, please:

If You Add Fuel to the Fire, That Isn’t Your Best Option

Picking a side and constantly arguing with the authors will get you nowhere. I mean it. You’ll have a hoard of followers coming after you. They’re scary, fierce, and vengeful, let me tell you. If you honestly think burning or selling books you’ve already bought will affect bestselling authors, just don’t bother. It won’t. You aren’t hurting anyone, except your online image and even your website.


If You’re Confused, Ask for Clarification

There’s nothing wrong with doing that. Don’t go on a rampage because the author’s choice is not to read a review. Just bloody ask. And I know some reviewers asked Angie. Others, though, kept bringing up her original post, and that added to the anger. Yes, at first, my hackles were raised, and I questioned why Angie acted this way. Maybe rewording the original post could have prevented the situation. But I doubt if the outcome would have changed.


Don’t Immediately Settle On a Side for the Hell of It

Mob mentality somewhat plays a role in social media. We process information at a rapid rate and don’t break it down to understand it clearly. Honestly, taking a step back allowed me to see how the issue blew up. I see no reason to have a “to die on this hill” moment. It’s ridiculous.


Rethink Sending That Comment or Reply

The blogosphere wants to thank you for your kindness. So yes, I believe authors and social media users need to read, reread, then reread some more before they hit the send button. Angie might have prevented the scandal if she were to mention only bad reviews or to list only herself, not all authors. But that’s hindsight for you. You never know what might have occurred. She still could have been attacked by the same people. But the reviewers who criticized her equally could have done the same. Again, always read before you post, bloggers.


Simply Accept the Author’s Wishes or Ask for Permission in the Future

Is that tip difficult? Hell no. Not at all. Accept it. Move on. Pick up a book and read. If you want to ask for permission to tag said author, then ask. Explain that you thought the author’s readers would enjoy your review. Or you wanted the author to read it, if possible. There’s nothing wrong with that. Many authors have gone down this road, decided not to read any reviews, and asked for followers not to tag them. I won’t go into the underlying issues of this particular problem. I strongly believe it was a lost-in-communication error on both ends, then escalated into something toxic. But let’s get one thing straight: do not tag authors in bad reviews.


I’m not defending either side. All I want is to analyze how the issue developed into a shitstorm. However, communication on both sides is paramount. We can learn how to coexist on a high-stress platform that changes by the millisecond.

What are your thoughts?

9 thoughts on “Beyond the Blurb | Should We Bloggers Stop Tagging Authors in Reviews?

  1. Coming at this from a freedom of speech/expression point of view, I think bloggers should be able to tag whoever they want. Positive or negative review, it shouldn’t matter. Now, whether or not I think it’s a good idea, that is another thing entirely. Personally, I think tagging an author on a negative review is just plain rude. So you didn’t like their book, that’s okay! No need to rub their faces in it! I think people who do that regardless are mean-spirited, but at the same time, it’s their prerogative. Whether you’re an artist or an author or any kind of creator, you know you’re going to get responses – good AND bad – to your work once you put it out there, so like you said, it’s just one of those things that come with the territory, unfortunately. No one likes being criticized or for their feelings to get hurt, but you still shouldn’t silence others.


  2. I’ve got to be honest, I thought this was a bit of a ‘storm in a teacup!’ I think this is the kind of thing that puts me off joining Twitter because there seems to be inexhaustible outrage at everything anyone ever does or says.

    Maybe it could be said that the way Angie Thomas wrote about not tagging authors in any reviews was blunt. Maybe it could be said that (despite referring to other authors) she doesn’t speak for all authors on social media. Some may not mind being tagged in good reviews! I don’t know if the outrage is because of what she said, how she said it or if people deemed that she was telling bloggers/reviewers what to do.

    I completely get if she doesn’t want to even be tagged in good reviews because she may want to keep a gap between her and her readers on her social media platform that isn’t interaction (how can you interact with a review for example?). Sometimes a good review is still critique dressed up and sometimes a good review might still have something to say that the writer doesn’t want to read. It could even be that they don’t want to gain an over-inflated ego if all they ever read is gushing praise!

    I definitely get not wanting to be tagged in bad reviews and authors have said that for ages now so it’s hardly a shocker. Personally I wouldn’t want to either.

    I don’t know, I think I’m more like ‘eh?’ at the over dramatic ‘never buying another one of your books ever!!’ thing that seems to be going on. I mean, there’s worse things done in this world and this is what gets people so upset? I guess I don’t get it!


  3. Your tip about asking authors what they prefer before we post reviews is probably the best option. I think tagging authors in bad reviews is a little like refusing to shake someone’s hand when you meet them or taking a bite out of an acquaintance’s dessert at dinner without asking first. It’s rude and makes you look like a dick, but it’s not illegal. People have the freedom of speech, but freedom of speech doesn’t mean you are free from the consequences of your speech. If you tag an author in a bad review, then you have to deal with the consequences of everyone calling you out for being a jerk. I tag authors in good reviews, but not bad ones. I think that’s just common courtesy.


  4. Hmm, i’ve never been in the habit of tagging authors on my review. Never even thought of it.
    As for tagging them or not tagging them… it’s probably a personal preference that differs author to author. Considering how many people talks about their books, it may get overwhelming, having 1000s of notifications a day perhaps.


  5. I usually tag authors when I review their book only if I have a positive review of the title. I won’t tag the author if the book was not my cup of tea. I know some authors prefer not to read any reviews of their work. I try to gauge based on their social media presence.


  6. Your last point though πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ I thought this whole outrage was a bit of an overreaction, tbh. Like, if an author says she doesn’t like getting tagged in any review, should we respect that?

    I saw one author say something along the lines of “what you think is a good thing might still offend the author”, which I think is totally fair. If I say “I love that the plot took a backseat and the author focused on the characters”, that could be offensive if the author spent a lot of time trying to make the plot the forefront.

    I only tag authors in reviews that are at least four stars and completely glowing. And even then, I always check on their twitter to see what their ~vibe~ is. If they retweet others’ reviews, then I tag them. If they don’t, I don’t tag them. I just think that overall, we should respect authors wishes.


  7. I super rarely tag authors in reviews, and even then, if I do tag them – the review is a 5-star and I want them to know how absolutely amazing I thought their work was. I would NEVER tag them in a bad review, and in fact, I try not to post many of those anyway. Just because I find a book problematic or annoying doesn’t mean that everyone will, and I don’t really like hurting people’s feelings for the sake of a good online rant (if the author was to find it). I’ve spoken to far too many authors who have become depressed because they have read a bad review of their work and it makes me cry for them. As my mother always said, “if you can’t say anything nice…”


  8. This whole situation and firestorm kind of confused me. I don’t see anything wrong with authors setting boundaries and requesting that they not be tagged in any reviews. Cora Carmack actually wrote a really interesting thread on twitter about how even positive reviews can hurt on a bad day or be negative “to creative psyche.” I think her thread really solidified for me why I will ask authors before tagging in positive reviews moving forward — especially because my reviews are never gushfests.

    Cora’s thread:


  9. I love these posts and I’m so glad you are here to say the things we all want to say.
    There will always be another twitter storm, but I believe that we should all stop and take a look at our actions and just be more conscious of ourselves in general.
    Rage storm in your head, but be mindful of what we let out on twitter!


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