Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kassa's GayRomLit: Does meeting an author change how you view their work?

Kassa and Leontine
By Kassa

First of all, thanks to Janna for having us all on her blog. I’ll tell you that chick is seriously sneaky. She made sure everyone was sober before she hit us up for guest posts that way we couldn’t weasel out of it. Smart girlie.

Anyway by now you’ve read a bunch of posts about GRL and the highlights, which almost everyone has their own ideas. I agree with many of the posts in that I loved the ladies, the venue (can’t ever get enough of NOLA), and meeting the authors themselves. I kind of went over this in great detail that everyone is likely sick of over on my blog. You can check out those posts but here on Janna’s lovely space of porn I’m going to talk about whether meeting an author changes how you view their work.

The biggest thing about GRL was for the authors and readers to meet and mingle. Now of course Kris avoided this whenever possible but for most other people, we wanted to meet and gossip with our favorites. Meeting authors can be stressful on both sides as the authors are nervous and shy and the readers are as well. The authors are worried how they’re coming off and the readers just want to be able to say something and strike up a conversation. On the one hand it gives a sense of empathy because you’re both really going through the same thing but that doesn’t change that it can be awkward.

Then you get into the really nitty gritty bits of meaty conversation and maybe the author says something to turn you off or make you excited about their work. I experienced both of these and after the first day of meeting authors at the drunken gay bar festivities, I wondered how I’d ever review any of them again. I met one author (I’ll keep her name secret) but she said she was afraid of my reviews and hoped I wouldn’t review her again. Now I get that but it saddens me and makes me not want to review their work. She was a lovely woman and very easy to talk to but that one comment – a grain of truth among the joke – made me wonder if I could really read and review her work again knowing she was so unhappy about it.

The same thought occurred to me with authors that made me feel welcome and valued. Some of these authors, I mention them all on my blog post “Meeting the Authors” were so gracious and kind, I thought I’d be some kind of ogre ever to give them a bad review again. And if I am thinking that, the well-known “bitch” of the review blogsphere, then what are other readers and reviewers thinking?

After taking some time to really consider the issue away from GRL, I realized that actually as wonderful as meeting the authors was it doesn’t change how I’m going to read and review their work. There are a couple of authors that I don’t want to read so I obviously won’t review them but for the most part, nothing’s really changed as far as my reading and reviewing. I can’t speak for others but reviewing doesn’t actually reflect personal feelings towards the author. I may love an author’s personality (and there are several I do and just want to hang out and chat for hours with) but that doesn’t change whether I like their book. The book is what I’m critiquing, not the authors.

Almost every book I pick up I want it to be great. I want the book to succeed and excel and be the best book I’ve ever written so it’s not as though I can have higher expectations of the authors I like personally. I already want their books to be great so meeting them just reinforced that. However wanting a book to be great doesn’t make a book great. I still have to be honest about how I view the book on its merits alone and not whether the author themselves.

I’m not sure how other readers and reviewers feel so tell me, can you still be objective and honest? Or are you forever tainted?

Three AM | Twitter


  1. Tainted. That sounds rather dirty. I confess, it does affect me. Sigh. I'm not nearly so impartial. Although if I have a negative experience with an author (which I haven't really) I would simply not review their books, I wouldn't go all nasty. That's not my style.

    Likely, if it's an author I really like personally and I hate their book, I simply wouldn't review it. Kind of a cop-out but if I have a personal relationship with you, it's unlikely I can split the two. A passing "oh they were nice to talk to" relationship yes, but if I really like you, I'm unlikely to say your latest baby sucked. However if I ignore your latest baby, I may think it's ugly and be following the Thumper rule of being nice. But not always, sometimes I'm just overwhelmed. LOL So bear with me, I may love your baby once it's a toddler. :-)

    So yes, it affects me in some way, I'm unlikely to go to extremes though, I won't trash your book if I don't like you personally, nor will I say it's the greatest thing since sliced bread if I thought it was okay at best but I adore you personally.

    Did ANY of that make sense?

  2. You always get me thinking, Kassa! :)

    There are definitely authors that I simply will not read because of their abysmal behavior - but that's primarily their online behavior. I don't think, other than maybe those sitting at the table of review-bashers at GRL, that meeting anyone in person affected how I review/what I will read.

  3. Dear lawd!! Hon, I look like a tomato!!

    Aside from that fact ;) I had a few authors whose personality just made me smile and invited me to chat with them. I've met authors who I just knew by name but now have mental pictures seared in my brain. Though I had wonderful conversations, though I've come to meet and like various authors it
    will not affect my reviewing.

    When I read that is what I'll be reviewing, not the author, but the story. For me its just two seperate things. A book still can't work for me even though I have met and liked the author. I have to be honest about that and I will provide reasons, like I've always done. I'm very black and white in that perspective.

  4. You know what is totally freaky now? I hear y'all's voices when I read your posts. Ooooooh.

  5. I guess it can be rather difficult to give an honest review after meeting and chatting with an author you like.

    For me, that would be very difficult.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot ocm

  6. I hope I can still be impartial when I review a book from one of the authors I've met. Hope is the keyword here, because it won't be easy and I'm actually afraid to review harsher when I really liked the author to avoid any semblance of favoritism. Maybe I should do as Tam does, cop-out. ;D

  7. Btw, Janna, I have liked all the posts this week :D

  8. You know, Kassa, you're starting to say 'bitch' like you're bragging about it now. :P

    Also, I keep telling you all that this wouldn't be such a big problem if you just stopped reviewing. Case closed.

  9. Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing :-)

    smaccall AT

  10. Kassa, I'm pretty sure (Aussie) Kris would get into a knife-fight with you over the Bitch of the Blogosphere title ;-)

    But I agree with you that when you review a book, you're reviewing the piece, not the author, and it should stand independent of who wrote it. OTOH, like Tam, once I become friends with an author, I tend to simply not say anything if I don't like their book. Then again, I'm not a reviewer, as such; I just post mine on GR or Amazon or the like.

  11. I know myself well enough that I can say I would definitely be tainted. I'm very sensitive that way, and if I don't have a nice interaction with someone, I won't be much of a fan anymore. Of course the opposite happens as well. :)

  12. Tam - I think that's a really good policy. Unfortunately I can never keep my mouth shut but I do know many reviewers who only post something positive. I've long been a proponent against this, I think negative or lukewarm reviews are just as worthy so if I couldn't write a negative review, I wouldn't write a positive review either. I just wouldn't review them period, which is always an option too.

    Chris - well you're universally liked and nice to everyone so it's less of a problem for you *grins* but good to know I'm not alone.

    Leontine - If it's any consolation I hate that picture of me too. I think you look great but it's always easy to say about someone other than yourself. I am glad that you have that black/white perspective because that's kind of how I view things too. It seems in the world of reviewing and the m/m genre specifically everything is so personalized and that's unfortunate.

  13. Tam - I hear their voices too. It's kind of freaky.

    Tracy - I do think it's difficult and for many people they won't be able to separate the two. I wouldn't blame them, even if I can.

    Janna - weakling! JK...

    Kris - well someone has to challenge you for q.o.t.f.u. You take way too much pride in it. Also one day you'll be reviewing again. one day.

    Bookwyrm - thanks!

    Rachel - Oh I know that's why I have to keep her ego in check. If she thinks she rules around here, heads would fly. *hmm*

    I avoid amazon but any time you place a review, anywhere, it does technically make you a reviewer. So welcome to the club! We have cookies.

    Emmettmke - I think you're the majority in that.

  14. I really need to point you to some reviews that put lie to your statement. :)

  15. Crap. I hope I wasn't the drunken person who said I never wanted you to review me again. I don't think I was, but the alcohol was flowing that night, and we DID talk about reviews. Trying hard to remember what we said, but all I'm getting is the naked guy looming over us all with his cell phone in his hand. Hmm.

    At any rate, it was great meeting you all, and while I of course think you should only give me ravingly good 5-star reviews from now on, I will understand if you choose to be honest instead. ;-)


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