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    NO TAGGING, and more advice from your friendly social media literary type.

    Jessie Gaynor

    May 7, 2019, 11:36am

    If you pay any attention to literary Twitter you’ve likely seen writers gently pleading with anyone who will listen to please don’t tag me on reviews, especially negative ones, which makes a lot of sense. Personally, I hate criticism, which is one of the many reasons I’ll never improve as a person. And while any published author should feel pleased to have their book reviewed, they might not always want to confront said review in their social media feed, which remains a complicated hybrid of public and private space. Tagging someone feels a little like yelling in their face, because unlike a negative review that’s just out there in the world, it’s pretty difficult to ignore. Particularly for anyone who spends a lot of time on social media, which many writers promoting new books do.

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    I assumed this was settled internet law, but an article on Book Riot today that defends the unpopular opinion (to be far, its title includes the preface “Unpopular Opinion”) that tagging writers in negative reviews is fine. The writer’s argument comes down to the fact that reviews are for the benefit of readers, and that tagging a writer in a review of their book makes it easier for others to find. (This rings false to me, partly because plenty of writers don’t use their full names as handles.) Also, she writes, “none of this is personal. The commentary is on the book, not the author.” Which may be technically true. But I’ve sat through enough workshops to know that a writers’ work rarely feels impersonal to them. Chuck Wendig has already written a response to the piece, “Hi, Definitely Don’t Tag Authors In Your Negative Reviews Of Their Books,” in which he argues that tagging a writer in a negative review amounts to going out of your way to hurt their feelings. “You tweet directly at me — it’s just me. It’s just my feelings.” So there you have it.

    Since we’re already talking about social media best practices, though, let me address one to writers, particularly writers with a lot of followers: just because someone tags you in a negative review does not give you carte blanche to retweet them. It’s punching down, even if they started it, and it sucks. Read their tweets out loud in Dumb Voice. Mute them. Reply if you must. But retweeting someone with 44 followers who said something insensitive, or even unkind, doesn’t make you a crusader; it makes you a jerk, at least in that moment.

    Of course, to quote one Lit Hub editor, no matter what we do on social media, “at the end of the day, we’re all just serving tech companies.”


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