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How NOT to Be a Book Blogger

Being a book blogger is great, and we love them. But if you're going to be one, don't tag authors with your negative reviews.

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I love book bloggers for their passion for books and reading. What’s more, I love that they give authors so many props for their books, create amazing bookstagram images and feeds for their Instagram, and publish their reviews everywhere. A book blogger is helpful in marketing. But when is it ok to tag an author in a review? When is tagging authors in reviews permissable?

See, apparently we need to have a discussion and etiquette talk about this. Book bloggers are not helpful when they’re just plain mean. What I don’t love so much, and I think any published author will share this sentiment, is when a book blogger goes through so much trouble to create a fancy bookstagram post and book review, thinks it’s ok to tag the author in a nasty review, and rally their supporters to also bash the book.

So today, I’d love to discuss why it’s not ok to tag an author with a shitty review, and why tagging authors in reviews is completely unnecessary.

The Story

There I was last night, scrolling through social media when I stumbled on a post by @msmonicamurphy aka the New York Times Bestselling Author, Monica Murphy. Not just a phenomenal author, but a prolific one at that. Her post was about a book blogger who apparently has no clue about book blogging etiquette.

And here it was:

So of course, I had to go look at who tagged her. A foreign “book blogger” who had taken an incredible picture of Monica’s books, tagged her, and in the comments put the following (translated from German).

book blogger

What. The. Fuck.

Now, first of all, I understand the importance and value of book bloggers. They share their insight and give books exposure. Good things. When done properly. What’s ok? And what’s NOT ok?

What’s OK for Book Bloggers to Do

Book bloggers are entitled to their opinion. They’re more than welcome to publish reviews of any star rating and provide an explanation of the reasons behind their rank. That’s fine. A book blogger should be able to read and evaluate a book free of bias at any time for any reason. They should be able to write a review and post it.

But here’s where it gets tricky. If it’s a good review, or 3 stars and above, sharing it on social media is great. If it’s 2 stars or less, it’s generally considered appropriate not to spread it all over social media. All of that is ok.

I grew up on the premise of praising publicly, and criticizing privately. Not everyone shares the same rules or viewpoints. So if you’re a book blogger, ask yourself one question — would you appreciate being publicly ridiculed for something you’ve said, created, or written, or would you rather have someone privately point out a deficiency and allow you the courtesy and grace of being able to make a correction without public humiliation?

And that’s where the difference lies…

What’s NOT Ok for Book Bloggers to Do

What’s NOT fine, in my opinion, is to use a social media platform with the intent to bash, humiliate, disrepute, disrespect, and hurt an author. I am very much against tagging in this regard. It attaches an image the author would NOT want affiliated with their social media profile.

It strikes me as someone as trying a little to hard to get their 15 minutes of fame. The mean girl on the playground. The clique leader. The person that could have just left a 1-star review on a blog and left well enough alone, but just couldn’t suppress the inner mean girl and had to try to make an extra point of it.

If you have an opinion and are a book blogger throwing out 1-star reviews, leave it on your blog. You don’t need to make a public spectacle of your opinion with the intent to hurt the author or the book.

What’s the Actual Intent?

And you have to ask… what was the true intent here? Look at the amount of effort this book blogger went through to publish a nasty post. They could have just left their bad review on their website. But, no. This one (/bookcahontas), felt it necessary to tag and humiliate.

Why on earth would any book blogger think they an author would want this associated with their profile? It’s insane. Or just intentionally mean.

I’m not the only one who feels like this is rude. Check out some of these other responses.

So I’m going to go with the consensus here. Bad form. Terrible etiquette. Bad intent. Unnecessary, negative, author-bashing post. If you want to call yourself a book blogger, don’t do this. Your opinion is your opinion – but it needs to stop there.

Book Bloggers, Cut the Negativity

There’s enough negativity and hate in this world. Leave well enough alone with your negative review. You don’t need to go the extra mile to humiliate an author with tagging and creating a special post about it. Move on.

Easy test to apply to decide if you’re being an asshole book blogger – the Golden Rule: “Would what I’m about to do make me feel bad if someone did the same thing to me?”

Don’t like a book? Fine. Post your review and move on. Do not tag an author in your negative review. It’s like your boss going around the office, announcing your name, and calling out all the terrible things you allegedly did in your workplace. Just, don’t. Tagging authors in reviews should be reserved for positive posts when you have nothing but positive things to say.

Some authors read their reviews. Others don’t. It’s a personal choice. But tagging authors in reviews forces this ‘read all the bad shit about my book’ onto them, when they might have made a conscious choice NOT to read reviews. And that’s not ok.

So if you’re going to tag an author, make sure it’s a positive vibe piece, and not a negative nasty-gram on Instagram.


Now, Monica Murphy is a NYT Bestselling Author for a reason. I’ve read most of her books. They’re wonderful. So if you want to do some good today and grab a great book, check out her most recent release, “You Promised Me Forever“.


Also published on Medium.

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