Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Discussion: Tangled Web of Blogger & Author Friendships


This is a controversial issue, so I know I must tread lightly. I just want to be clear that I'm not policing your friendships, nor am I discounting them or am I shaming you for having them at all. The intention of this post isn't some attempt to make you stop interacting with authors. Rather, it's an a discussion post intended to create conversation through some observations I've made and quite a few questions I have for the community.

One of the many things on my mind is how does one remain impartial while maintaining author friendships? How much weight do they or do they not hold on the final rating or review? For me I find the whole point of writing reviews is to showcase your honest opinion on a story. So, personally, when bloggers are openly/publicly interactive and very friendly with an author and give their story a glowing five stars in the back of my mind I wonder: how much did their friendship influence their review or rating? Did the blogger feel pressured, perhaps to the extent where they felt in order to maintain their ties with the author they must inflate the rating? Do they feel guilty they didn't like the book and feel they to overcompensate the positives? It's hard to say and honestly leaves me wary and at times creates mistrust.

Personally speaking, I'm friendly (in my eyes there's a difference between the odd tweet and constant everyday sorta friendship thing) with authors. I wouldn't say I'm particularly close with any to the point of true friendship however. Part of that is because I fully admit I may be prone to adjusting ratings, or at least may feel the need to if the circumstance of becoming close friends with an author was presented. I think it'd be awkward to say the least to have a very strong friendship, read their book, find it mediocre or worse and continue talking to the author casually. So, the thing is- I get it. I understand why somebody would feel pressured to heighten ratings. Do I personally agree with the integrity and honesty lost with it? No, not in the least especially with the very core of the community based on honest opinions. I hold that honest integrity above all else. It's because of that I keep a professional distance from authors and don't cross into that  murky friendship area.  This is definitely an individually based choice, I think it would differ from blogger to blogger on whether or not they would be able to remain impartial or not.

It's no doubt in my mind that some bloggers who have crossed that line of professionalism into friendship and at one point or another may have felt obligated to heighten ratings (especially bloggers at a younger age, I feel they'd be more prone to the influence that comes along with the friendship) despite their genuine feelings about a novel.To anybody out there who may be feeling the temptation to inflate ratings I would encourage you to consider other options.

Many alternate options do exist and while they won't be as pleasing to an author as a glowing five star review, they're certainly more honest and the more trustworthy thing to do. The best one in my view would be an honest rating and review, of course while remaining respectful. I know some bloggers would worry that this would impact their friendship with the author but quite frankly, if an author is really your friend (and not just there for opportunistic promotion, which unfortunately does exist and I've personally experienced) I'm sure they wouldn't be put off by a 3 star review. Another choice is to to quietly rate on goodreads or not even rate at all and avoid all the possible awkwardness all together. While this one does bother me as it's restricting you of your true opinion, I definitely find it better than a falsified and frankly dishonest perspective.

Overall it's clear to me that Blogger & Author friendships and the line that exists in terms of professionalism is no easy thing to determine as it honestly differs from person to person. I personally do feel that pressure to inflate ratings exists. I think the crucial thing to do is to recognize this pressure and if you do have blogging friendships, consider the weight of their friendship on your impartiality in order to reach a option that works for you.

43 comments :

  1. Larissa I know we've talked about this a fair bit and it can definitely get awkward when you didn't like the authors book or when you are worried they'll stop talking to you after. You've worded this so eloquently and I loved how your presented a few alternatives. It's hard not to feel pressured sometimes! Lovely post hun

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    1. Yeah haha! It maybe came up once or twice in the group chat hehe[; Honestly though I couldn't stop thinking about it and it resulted in this post. Thank you so much for the lovely comments. I think alternatives should definitely be in place so people don't feel obligated to inflate ratings.

      Thank you Jeann <33

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  2. This is an interesting discussion! Wonderful post, and definitely something to think about xx

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    1. Thank you so much! <33 I appreciate all of your kind words so much and I'm so glad you liked the post

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  3. This is such a big discussion, especially as of late, in the blogging world. I always wonder about this. First of all, you did such a great job with this discussion post as always. Both thoughtful yet tasteful, breath easy, my dear! I doubt anyone will get mad at you for this lovely post ;)

    And now for the ideas... I'm friendly with quite a few authors because of my debut event and the work I do with debuts and just because I'm constantly on Twitter (I know... it's a PROBLEM), so naturally over time you do become friendly with people. I don't like to think of authors as "author friends" or "friendly with authors." They're people just like us!! Now would I say that there are authors I'm friends with? Definitely. They are much fewer of them than the authors I'm friendly with, and I think sometimes people get confused between friendly and actual friendship. Some markers I've taken to distinguish: do you have each other's number? Do you randomly text each other about things having NOTHING to do with books? Do you chat incessantly? Do you share personal things? Have you met in real life? It's not a checklist of sorts, but I definitely think there are different boundaries/experiences and once you cross different ones it really changes the level of friendship.

    I don't think I've knowingly skewed a rating for a book because I'm friendly or friends with the author. I keep friendships/friendliness and what I read completely separate. I usually don't even let the author know I'm reading their book unless I'm loving it. I'll still rate the book fairly, especially on my blog. Authors even repeat 'It's OKAY if you don't like my book.' 'Don't worry if you don't like it.'

    I do think some people are influenced by that, but I really hope/think it's not on purpose.

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    1. Just to add to this absurdly long comment (sorry <3) author friendships are hard sometimes. It can be difficult to maintain a level of professionalism when you know each other so well or you're good friends. It is manageable though! :D

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    2. Yeah I've seen it going around so I think it's quite relevant and wanted to add my two cents in (: Thank you for the kind words <33 And I hope not haha.

      Yeah I was hoping you'd comment on this post because I do know you're quite involved with authors, specifically debuts. I think there certainly is a difference between being friendly with authors and being friends with them. People do get this confused often, as I've seen myself. Like tbh, I've seen bloggers feel they're really close with authors but honestly I'd personally see it more as being friendly. STILL, as long as the blogger feels like they're friends with the author I think the desire/pressure/whatever to inflate ratings may exist.

      I understand that authors are people too obviously, but to ignore the fact they do play that large role in creating books (for us to read/review) isn't something I can do. I just personally feel authors do have the position of power over some and because of that inflated ratings can occur. Hope that makes sense lol.

      You make a point I forgot to mention in this post, about KNOWINGLY doing inflating ratings. I feel sometimes skewed ratings may be done with purpose but other times that it's almost done unconsciously. Like it's done without even realization.

      You must be quite good at separating your friendships from your reviews then. Personally, I think the two would blend for me. It's a good idea to not tell your author friends you're reading they're books. And honestly it's good authors say that (: but even with that reassurance I think that pressure still exists.

      Long comments are my fave, don't worry about it. I defs think the lines and everything can be confusing and hard

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  4. Larissa why are your discussions so awesome! Recently I've decided to not judge too quickly on how a discussion is named and read it first and I was kind of scared where this discussion in my mind was initially going... but was I so wrong.

    I love this discussion so much. When I first started blogging I definitely felt this 'pressure' with well known authors (as I hadn't interacted with an author yet). I was slammed for giving a john green book a mediocre rating and review and I eventually did inflate my rating to 'please' everyone. Months later I changed my review again because I realised that I value my honesty way more than the negative judgemental opinions of others.

    Since then (and also now making various author friendships) I still feel the pressure but I always refer back to that JG incident and my honesty always comes back on top. If an author friend's book was hella good I'm going to talk about it and give it all the praise it I can give. But if an author friend's book was okay I will say why it was okay and tred lighty on the literary language used and justify why I didn't like it as much (obviously without attacking the author because I would never do that).

    It's hard trying to draw the line in these relationships. It kind of helps too when authors tell you that it's okay that you don't like their book as it's not for everyone. Overall a great discussion Larissa !

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    1. AWWW why thank you(: I often question why commenters are so awesome and come up with such detailed and eloquent responses. I'm so glad the title didn't throw you off, I won't lie- I'm the worst at titles. Honestly I should pay more attention to them but I usually just slap them on.

      I'm sorry that John Green experience happened to you! Being not his biggest fan myself, I totally understand how you'd feel having your viewpoint basically invalidated by his supporters. It definitely is saddening that you felt that pressure to inflate just to appease his supporters (who omg should have just respected your opinion) but I'm proud that you did end up changing the rating back to reflect your true views (:

      I'm also glad you have that incident to look back on to remind you not to cave to that pressure. It definitely really does exist, no doubt about it in my eyes. Honesty is the most important thing I believe :)

      Thank you so much

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  5. Your discussions are always a breath of fresh air Larissa and so elegantly written.

    As disclosure, I'd like to say that I consider myself friends with a few authors. Kirsty Eagar is my Twitter wifey. Fuck how I love that woman. But if I don't like a book, then I typically stop reading and it saves me the trouble. I don't have time for shitty books. Where it's important that authors separate themselves from their work, as bloggers we need to follow the same advice. Not only as bloggers, but tour hosts, friendships with publicists and also influenced by other popular bloggers / readers who have also read the same book. It's a very fine line. I think it comes with confidence though too. I've had very heated discussions with several author friends over their book content and have given those books far less than stellar reviews. As long as we're respectful and reviewing the book and not the person behind the book, it shouldn't be an issue.

    For younger bloggers without that confidence, I'd suggest they not review it if they don't feel comfortable with being honest. One negative review won't hurt an author, but a blogger inflating ratings to appease authors, that most definitely will. Brilliant discussion Larissa and a really important one to have in todays community <3 <3

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    1. <333 you're so kind to me Kelly. Thank you for being so lovely as always.

      Not gonna lie, after reading Summer Skin I'd love to be friends with Kristy haha. LOL I love your bluntness cause it's so true for me to. I barely got time to read now yet alone read shitty books.

      BUT YES GIRL. That's exactly what I was trying to say, that there does need to be some level of separation to ensure true honesty without any room for bias. I think you got that down for sure. Confidence I think definitely comes into play, which is why particularly younger bloggers I feel may be influenced to heighten ratings in order to maintain that friendship with the author to the fullest. I think it does take some level of confidence to be completely honest despite the pressure.

      Thank you again Kelly! I really do hope this discussion has helped people feeling this way, or has made others aware of this issue.

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  6. Fabulous, as always Larissa! The big thing for me about blogger-author relationships is that really, they can't (and don't need to be!) prevented- as long as everyone understands how important honesty is. The thing is, there are bloggers who have become authors- and some who would like to, no doubt. Some may know authors just from being around them in the book world. So it isn't like there can be some kind of moratorium on the relationships.

    BUT I think how they are handled can make SO much difference. Like you said with younger bloggers, I feel like they can definitely be an easier target for an author with not-so-sincere motives, because they're probably elated that an author wants to be friends. And the same can be said about new authors and bloggers- the new author is probably so, so excited to be getting some attention. So it's imperative that both parties try very hard to never take advantage of the others' situation.

    I think there are steps to take. First, if you are legit besties with the author, just don't review the book. Flail about it in some non-review fashion, but let's face it- if I am seeing photos of you as the author's kid's godparent or something, I am not seeing the review as unbiased anyway. Second, any author with any class wouldn't get mad at a friendly neighborhood blogger not liking their book, as long as they're respectful about it.

    But alas, it DOES happen where authors have yelled at bloggers over reviews. And it has also happened where bloggers have taken advantage of new authors and pressured them for books and the like. I do feel like those are the exceptions though, and NOT the rule.

    So if you are on Twitter and thinking "man, I hope Susie Authorface never sees this review, I really like her as a person and love to tweet at her" and wonder if you should "pad" the review? NO. Because if Ms. Authorface is as great as you think, she isn't trolling for negative reviews, nor would she hold one against you if she stumbled upon it. And if she IS trolling around and then being an asshat, well, perhaps you and Susie Authorface need to part ways anyway.

    Every author I have obtained a review copy from directly asked for- and reiterated the need for- complete honesty. They just wanted the book read, not read and lied about. I will continue to assume that all authors are like that, and if they aren't? Then I don't need them in my life anyway!

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    1. Thank you lovely! I do agree, I think it's pretty cool they can exist. However I do feel the honesty factor should be emphasized just because it is so crucial when it comes to reviews.

      Younger bloggers I feel are definitely a target just because I think they can be more easily influenced. Shit, I know if I was 15 and blogging I'd be totally enamoured and feel super cool that an author is talking to ME of all people. The potential for a situation where one party takes advantage of eachother (whether it be for positive PR, getting name out there etc etc) is something I could certainly see.

      LOL Shannon the sentence about being the author's godparent definitely has me laughing :p thinking I wouldn't trust that reviewer myself hehe. But yeah if you're /that/ close with an author you can pretty much throw impartiality right out of the window. And I definitely agree that an genuinely friendly author who wants to be your friend will not care about a bad rating. Ones looking for promo will though unfortunately /: I've seen it happen too girl and oh my god, it's so unprofessional and manipulative especially when the other party doesn't even recognize it.

      That damn old Susie author face :p but yes I definitely agree with what you said. Inflating ratings shouldn't be necessary if the author has any sense of decency. Even then though I feel the classic "it's okay if you don't like my book!!" applies pressure too cause wow they're just being so nice. Really I think when it comes review time people just need to focus on the book and their honest experience as hard as that may be with external pressures.

      It's awesome to hear that you interact with authors who actually ask for honesty. That's a relief TBH, I think that would reduce some pressure. Defs agree with your final sentiments.

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  7. I love this post. Blogger/author friendships can be great yet complex and depending on the situation, person, etc, the lines can blur and that's where things can get tricky. I'm only friends with a few authors and friendly with the rest. I love when you make that special connection, but it does come with a can of worms. Last year after becoming good friends with an author, I became terrified of reading their book because what if I didn't love it as much as them? Even though they had said not to worry if it wasn't my thing and they'd still like me, it didn't make it any easier. It took me having to set it down the book down and returning months later, telling my brain to shut up and for me to stop stressing, for me to finally read the book. And you know what? I LOVED it. Like, ship with a thousand suns love. But it was the first time where it really made me stop and think about how tricky author/blogger relationship are. It's so much simpler to read books and keep yourself at a distance from the creator, but it's not nearly as much fun.

    I agree though, I am sceptic if I know people are buddy/buddy, because how do I know they're being honest and clear minded when they've sat down to write their review? It's tricky and it's why I have always written with honestly because I never want someone to be questioning my integrity. Is it just me or are others sceptical of reviews debut authors leave for other debut authors? As much as I want to get excited about the book in question they're hyping up because boy, they sell the heck out of a book, all the glowing, 5-star reviews they leave have me wondering how genuine the review is. And that kinda sucks because they must love lots of the books they read by fellow debut authors. But all of them, all 5 stars? It's not just tricky for bloggers, it's tricky for authors., for everyone It's a slippery slope indeed.

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    1. Thank you Rebecca! (:
      I don't want to police anybody's friendships and I do believe blogger/author friendships are possible, alike you though I think it just can get tricky or complicated when reviews come into play. And yes while that "it's okay if you don't like it!" sentiment is nice in theory, it really doesn't take away the pressure haha. I think in order to ensure honesty in reviewing books of your author friends you have to be quite good at separation. Like reviews are supposed to reflect your honest feelings of the book and not the author.

      I agree with you completely on how skepticism can form. And girl you're definitely not alone when it comes to debut authors leaving glowing reviews of other debut authors. Hahaha, I definitely side eye that.I just get bad flashbacks to instagram promo for promo posts and nope. I won't lie to you that is why with debut novels I wait for reviewers I trust to add their two cents.

      Yeah I feel there definitely is contention on both the author and blogger side of things.

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  8. Wow, great discussion post and definitely something that needed to be said. I have, like many others, noticed blogger/author relationships that seem to impact a blogger's book rating/review. I don't think there is a problem with a blogger being overly friendly with an author, to the point of having real friendships even, but I will be honest I don't take their reviews very seriously as far as helping me decide if I want to read a book or not. At the end of the day each their own I suppose, but I personally think blogger's should keep it more professional and reviews honest.

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    1. Also I forgot to say about the author/blogger relationships that I have even seen authors get involved in blogger drama. That makes me lose respect for the AUTHOR. Especially when they are adults even older than me getting involved in drama with high schoolers.

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    2. Thank you so much lovely <33
      I honestly think it certainly is noticeable that the pressure to inflate ratings does exist cause you do see it quite often. Honestly if people are going to be so close to an author they take that chance of not being taken seriously by other bloggers even if their reviews are honest just because that pressure to inflate could even subconsciously come out.

      I agree with you. haha Thank you for the follow. And yes omfg when authors get involved in blogger drama I definitely shake my head.

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  9. Hey! This is a really good post and raises some very valid points. I strive to be open and honest in my reviews, and honestly, you'd be able to tell if I wasn't genuine when writing 5-star reviews. I'm just really bad at lying about my feelings!

    That being said, after reading the first book in a series last year and giving it 5 stars (I LOVED it), I actually did end up becoming really good friends with the author. As in, talk every day kind of friends. But we had an honest conversation early on where she gave me explicit instructions to critique her books without bias in my reviews. If we hadn't had that discussion, I might not have been able to review the next book in her series. I know some people might not be able to give honest and constructive feedback to their friends, but we established from the beginning a policy of being open, and I have had many conversations with her since where I told her exactly how I felt about certain scenes, the good and the bad. I even once admitted that if she took the series a certain way, I'd stop reading!

    I think, if you're going to be friends with an author, you have to lay some ground rules in the beginning. Sometimes you just click with a person, and friendship comes quickly and easily. If that's true friendship, then they should welcome your honesty. If they don't, maybe that friendship isn't as great as you first thought!

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    1. Thank you so much Dani (: It's good to hear that honesty is of the most important for you as for me it truly is the core for reviewing.

      I think conversations where honesty is mentioned between author/blogger friendships are important to relieve that pressure for the blogger. But honestly it takes quite a deep conversation to do so (something more than just the "it's okay if you don't like my book", cause what else are you supposed to say) and I feel that conversation doesn't happen enough. Maybe if it did it would solve the problem. I think you've really proven that with your example (:

      Exactly! If an author can't take your honest viewpoint then that sad reality is that it's likely your friendship wasn't as strong as you thought.

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  10. This is always a hard topic to discuss with class, and you did an amazing job.

    As for my thoughts? Well, I see both sides. One side of me sees what we do as a market and shouldn't befriend the product (that sounds weird) but the other part of me, the larger one, sees that this is a community and we all want to discuss, bond and all that over books. I do think there IS a line, and one should tread carefully not to cross yet often IS. But I think you can be friendly & nice without being BFFs. And for me, someone close to me that is honest about anything/everything is the best person to have in your corner. But those authors that I have become "close to" or too friendly with? I just don't review their books.

    Great topic!

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    1. Thank you so much! Haha, I tried really hard not to offend anybody just because it is such a controversial topic.

      I personally do think bloggers and authors can be friends, just that it does really complicate things if the blogger ever chooses to publicly review the authors book. I personally am friendly with bloggers like I mentioned, just not really close friends just because I'm bad at separating the pressure haha so I just avoid that.

      Thank you girl <33

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  11. This is an amazing discussion and you handled it with grace and professionalism. I agree that I've seen people who are too friendly with authors and that has influenced their rating. For me, I suppose that yes the pressure is present, but at the same time, I feel a connection and a loyalty to my blog readers to be truthful when writing reviews. I disconnect the link between friendship and honest reviews. I even think those friends would appreciate my honesty versus me outright lying to save their feelings. I prefer for friends to tell me the truth.

    - Elizabeth @ Book Yabber

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    1. Thank you so much Elizabeth! tbh I was a little worried posting it haha.

      I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in seeing this problem. I really do feel that being honest is crucial and it's harder to do that if you are close to the author. However it's not impossible, you just have to be good at separating your friendships from the book itself if that makes sense.

      I definitely would prefer truthful honest reviews and I think true author friends would understand that.

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  12. I interact with some authors more than others and yes, some I can call my friend. But I would never rate their book higher than what it deserves in my eyes because of that. I firmly believe that our friendship is based on trust. They trust me to give my honest opinion so that's what I do. It's never fun to not like a book by a friend, but your friend deserves your honest opinion.

    I have lots of wonderful bookish friends now and I hope that IF my book ever comes out, I won't lose them because of that.

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    1. Yes I do believe authors/bloggers can be friends (: I just also think that pressure to please said author could be present in some circumstances and may come out through inflated ratings. I definitely think honesty is something I would find imperative in a friendship, so if a author friend wasn't okay with a not so hot review? I would definitely question how strong our friendship really was.

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  13. I know this issue has come up quite a bit in our group but I'm so glad you publicly talked about this Larissa!

    I have lots to say...

    I have to say that I think it's pretty fucking cool that us bloggers get to be friends with authors. I've been friendly and have been friends with authors in the last 4+ years that I've been blogging. And not just 'let me pimp out your book on social media so that you can tell everyone how awesome I am' kind of friends, but 'hey i have an idea for a book and can you help me brainstorm' or 'hey im gonna text you so I can bitch about my bad day with you' kind of friends. I realized that being friends with authors isn't that much fun...

    It's not fun reading a book you were super excited about and hating it, especially if the author know you are reading it (or sent it to you). It's not fun writing a one or two star review and praying and hoping that the author never sees it or that she pretends they didn't see it. It's not fun having an author tell you about their new book which you have zero interests of reading. It's not fun loving an authors previous books and having to rate their latest book low because it just wasn't there. This is why I've cut all ties from authors. Other than an occasional 'like' or RT I prefer to not have any contact. I only follow about 10 authors on Twitter and I feel so much better now, like I don't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings or sugarcoating my words.

    If other bloggers want to be friendly with authors then that's up to them. The problem is when those bloggers clearly start to change their demeanor, going from being harsh critics to all of a sudden loving every flipping debut book. Go ahead and hype it up all you want, but me and other bloggers don't believe you...

    The bigger problem is when authors start getting involved in blogger drama like we have been seeing lately. This is simply not acceptable! Author's have no place in blogger drama. They have no say in negative reviews and they need to learn when to stay out of certain situations because yes, we are aware that they are humans too, but they are also authors and they should keep a level of professionalism.

    At first I thought it was freaking awesome how an author I look up to would take the time to favorite, RT, comment or reply to a tweet of mine. Now, I miss the good old days when authors stayed away. I wish more authors would behave like Richelle Mead or Taherah Mafi... they are professional, and thank readers and bloggers in a mass announcement. No need to single out certain bloggers or personally thank everyone. At first I thought it was a little rude, now I totally get it.

    Awesome post, authors and bloggers need to realize that sometimes these close 'friendships' are muddling the line.

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  14. One more thing: I know every author SAYS that they are okay with negative reviews and that they completely understand if you didn't like their book, but come on! What else are they supposed to say? 'You better like my book or else I'm never talking to you again'?

    Sadly enough, I have seen this happen to friends of mine numerous times, authors say they want honesty, but some can't handle it.

    Even if an author says they want honesty, a friendship can't help but put pressure on the blogger...

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    1. Haha your long essay made my life here because it's basically everything I've ever felt on this subject.

      I think that the fact technology has given us the ability to connect with authors and people we admire is pretty cool also. I've seen some true author/blogger friendships and the fact that it's possible is really neat. It does of course become more complex when reviews get added to the mix haha.

      I think we're quite similar in that avoidance technique. While I can appreciate author/blogger friendships and that they exist, I want to personally ensure total impartiality by not crossing that friendly line haha. Just because I fully admit that I'm not sure if I'd be able to still claim to be 100% honest if I did go over that line.

      And I definitely agree that those who do hype and gush to no end about a particular author's work while still being close friends with said author definitely makes me wary. It's like how much of that glowing 5 star rating is truly your love of the book and not (even unconsciously) your friendship seeping through?

      Authors involved in blogger drama really is so unprofessional to me. It makes me shake my head and really wonder why the author feels the need to give their own two cents (especially being an author they have that position of power and can make the drama even worse tbh) on something that honestly doesn't involve them.

      Thank you lovely <33

      And yeah while "it's okay if you don't like my book" is a good sentiment I really don't think it's enough to take away that pressure.

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  15. I don't really know much on this department because I wouldn't say certain authors are friends but I have two that I sometimes talk to and I have reviewed their books. I'll tell you how it went with both.

    First author: Last year, she was a debut author so I didn't really know her. I did love her debut and needed more so I told her and by that we just started talking about books and bits and pieces of our personal lives. When her second book of that series came out, it wasn't as great as the first and I told her so and I gave my honest rating, which was 4 stars because I very much loved it but it lacked a bit that the first book had (I gave the first one a 5).

    Second author: This author can be... Well, it can be a hit or in a so-so 3 star line. She's a great person and we are both 22 years old so I really liked talking to her and whatnot. When it came to a book she released I didn't fully like, I'd state that in my review and be honest. I wouldn't sugar coat anything. Because of that, she asked me to be a beta reader, because she knew even though I like her, I'd tell her how it is and what doesn't work.

    But then again, I do see your point. There are bloggers that simply LOVE everything an author publishes. And I'll admit as soon as I read the title, there was a blogger who's name popped in my mind along with the author's because I've seen how they are and the blogger loves everything she publishes. I don't know if it's her tastes or if it's because of the author. Who really knows, right? But it does create a certain skepticism on whether the blogger's review can be trusted or not.

    I agree with Nereyda. I used to think that an author giving extra attention to a blogger was great and that I was missing out. I'll admit, I want the attention but where does the professional line falls? It's pretty much nonexistent. And now, I understand and it's totally okay.

    Larissa, this is a fantastic post!

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    1. Your experience with the first author sounds very good. It's awesome that you didn't feel that pressure to inflate your rating and could be honest and genuine with your rating of the second book. The second author experience sounds great too, the fact you're her beta reader basically is like she only wants your honest views haha (:

      There really are two sides to the coin I think. I believe it's pretty clear to tell an honest/impartial review from one that has been privy to author influence and felt the pressure to inflate ratings. Skepticism is definitely created in my eyes when you know the blogger/author are very close and you get all of the gushing 5 star reviews. Even if they're honest, how can you be certain the friendship didn't come into play? Honestly it's quite a complex grey area

      Thank you so much lovely <33

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  16. This post is perfect. Your discussion are always so on point, Larissa! I personally don't have any relations with authors beyond the occasional retweet and short, excited DMs about their upcoming books. I don't think that it is absolutely necessary to cut all bloggers-authors ties because, well, you cannot just stop being friends someone like that, but I certainly don't seek out authors. I'm blunt and honest in my reviews. And how can I be friends with an author if I didn't enjoy their book, or even loathed it? I'd feel fake or like I wasn't supporting them, but at the same time, I'm not going to lie to them. There's no point in that. I'm a blogger - this is what I do.

    And I know there's that subconscious desire to slightly inflate your ratings to make them feel better. I've been in that situation myself. Even if it's just an author shooting you an email asking you to review their book and they're super friendly and nice and then you read their books and it's awful. You don't want to give them a 'bad' rating, but the alternative is to lie. And if you lie, what's the point in blogging anymore. No one is going to trust your reviews.

    This has gotten a little long-winded and ramblish now, but I'll end by saying fantastic discussion - so damn true and definitely relative and in need of discussion.

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    1. Thank you so much Rachel. It sounds like we're quite similar when it comes to our author relations, I keep it friendly but never really get that close because of everything I mentioned in this post regarding the pressure to inflate ratings. I don't discourage author/blogger friendships, I just think that there are times when they can come into conflict with one's honesty. Some people may be better at handling that conflict than others, really it's just a question of how well you can separate your feelings on the book from your friendship with the author.

      It's okay hehe, I love long comments personally. They're my favorite. Thank you so much girl! <33

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    2. The more I read of your posts, the more I think we share opinions on most things! And can I just say hallelujah to that? It's refreshing to have someone understand and reciprocate all the things I'm thinking. And damn, you have such an eloquent way of phrasing it - right to the point.

      But back to this. Yes, definitely. I think that's what the problem is. And even if you are able to separate your feelings consciously, I think there will always be that subconscious desire to make you author friend happy... and that can lead to dishonesty. I don't blame anyone, and I don't think we should discourage people to be friends but I just think attention needs to be bought to this, and it be acknowledge... which you've done so damn well.

      *blushes* You're most welcome! <3 Least I can do. And if you keep writing such delicious discussion I won't be able to help writing such long responses!

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  17. I love that you put this discussion out there!! I'm not going to say too much bc, well.... I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or cause drama. I will say the meaning of "friends" in the blogging world doesn't usually line up with what my definition of "friends" is--- meaning you are actually friends IRL and are actual friends, not we talk on twitter a lot.

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    1. Yeah it really is a controversial topic ahaha. But honestly girl I promise my blog is a safe space to openly talk about how you feel, so honestly don't worry about causing drama.

      I do think there's certainly a difference between being close friends with an author and being friendly haha

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  18. ♥ this post! I completely agree with everything you are saying and I've honestly stopped following a few bloggers because it seems like they only post/review about certain authors and always outrageously positive reviews! I don't trust their opinions after seeing them interact with these same authors on social media and it seems more like they have been promoters for certain authors rather than neutral bloggers giving an honest review!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Eva (: It's really reassuring I'm not alone in feeling this way. I think it's quite obviously to spot inflated ratings among the honest ones. It's really hard to balance author friendships while maintaining honest and impartial so I don't blame people for inflating ratings. I just wish they didn't feel the need to.

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  19. This is such a great post. I definitely agree with you. I'm a younger blogger, and I don't really strive for author friendships, I like to sort of keep authors as my "idols" in a way (which actually kind of sounds creepy now, but I don't really know any other way to phrase it.) There was one instance though where me and a group of a few others got to be extremely close with these two authors, and they aren't big authors at all, but our entire group became just so close knit it was definitely passed any lines of professionalism. Now, there books were good, but they weren't really 5 star amazing books, but well, I went and gave them 5 stars anyways because I didn't want to jeopardize our friendship or hurt their feelings. In hindsight, this probably wasn't the best idea, but in my defense at least I didn't review their books on my blog, it was only on Goodreads. We are all still close friends, but I would never want to venture into that type of territory again with any other authors. Especially knowing the kind of person I am, I hate to unintentionally hurt people or get anyone upset, so being friends with authors and then not liking something they wrote and then having to put that out there, on my blog or wherever would make me feel horrible in so many ways. I feel like I just wouldn't be able to give that bad review, and I would end up bumping my rating up. I wouldn't want to be a "friend" who just tore apart something someone had worked so hard on for who knows how long. This is why I tend to just stay out of author friendships.
    Not to mention that the book community could be so quick to attack someone if they found out they were bumping up ratings for books because they were friends with the author. I honestly don't think doing it once or twice is that bad, but if you do it repeatedly it just completely destroys your integrity as a reviewer. How can anyone trust what you say if you're constantly blurring friendship and professional lines? This is a very complex topic and I feel like many people who are friends with authors will say that they don't bump up ratings because of their friendship, but it's always something at the back of my mind, and even if someone says they aren't giving a book a high rating because they are friends with the author, they can always be lying. It kind of reminds me of how on Goodreads before a book has been published and only a select group of authors has read it it has a very high average rating and ever review is from an author saying how the book is so powerful, or the characters are just so believable, and its such a tearjerker, but then you get the bloggers with the books and all the sudden the average rating skyrockets down and many new reviews completely contradict what lots of the original reviews were saying. I don't know, something about that whole situation just seems a little fishy to me, because as we all know people can have differences in opinion, but when they are so drastic and the negatives outweigh the positives by so much, its hard to believe that the positives in the beginning were truthful. I kind of made this comment way too long and took it in a totally different direction but great post! I appreciate the discussions about this going on in the community right now.

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  20. There's actually a book from an author who was a mutual on twitter that i just really disliked. now that i think about it, i actually have been distancing myself from her. i never wrote the review but there is something about this post that makes me realize something about myself that is really bad: i can be really hypocritical about my negative reviews.

    like for example, if there's a book i hate that is from an author i'm friends with, the review will be super polite and almost like I'm "sorry" for my negative review. However, if I'm not friends with that author, SOMETIMES the review can be kind of long and ranty. In one case, I actually got into a ...thing with an author because they didn't like my review and *shrugs* I just don't think that ever would've happened if we were friends.

    I don't see myself inflating ratings but like some of the comments say, you can never be sure. It can be an unconscious thing which again, brings up the question of we should be friends with authors or not or how close we should get. I don't think I'm going to hold myself back in fear of not liking the book but it's definitely an interesting thing to think about. I love how impartial this discussion is and how it looks on both sides equally. You're really talented, Larissa.

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  21. This is a post that will launch a thousand discussions, and I love it! I know we have spoken about this on hangout extensively, but I loved how you put all your thoughts together with such respect and clarity here.

    I am of the opinion that human relationships are intrinsically complex (duh XD) and it's going to be difficult for anyone to keep business and pleasure separate - especially when they have have friendships that span across both. Sure, you can state your opinion of the book will not be swayed by your relationship with the author. Just like Youtubers can state their opinion of a product is not swayed by receiving payment from its manufacturer - but it's ultimately up to the people who read your review or watch your video to make the final call on whether they trust you.

    All you can do is give your viewers and readers the full fact: you received the book free of charge, you are on friendly terms with the author, you are doing your best to be impartial. You can't control how people will receive this, but you can be transparent and help them make their final call on whether they should trust you. Whether you can be trusted is up to your audience to decide.

    So I think it's hilarious that people are trying to police the tone around this conversation - all 'how dare you question the sanctity of friendship' when it's not the point at all. The point is whether people believe in YOUR ability to judge fairly despite said friendship - and that perception is something you can influence by being fair and transparent.

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  22. First, to me there is as difference between being "friends" and being "friendly". I am friendly with a lot of authors on Twitter that I have never read any of their books, but I became aquainted with them through other bloggers and enjoy their personalities. Their are even a couple that I read and hated their books, but I love them as people. I just don't let them know I hated their book and hope they never stumble across my review. Ha ha. As far as actual friendship zone; in my case that developes from "friendly". I never go out purposely trying to be friends with an author and most times it has nothing to do with their books. I think that what most people consider friendship, I consider just being friendly. The authors I am "friends" with I am Facebook friends on their personal accounts and know their kids, and talk about family stuff in PMs. I only have about six authors I consider friends, and if I had a problem with their book I would tell them. I would not review it though. Being "friendly" with an author has no impact on my reviews. However, I do realize that this is a problem with some other bloggers. :)

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