The Blogger/Author Relationship AKA Sara Had A Bad Experience and Has Thoughts

I’ve been blogging for over seven years now. I don’t get paid for this. I have never ever gotten paid for this. I’ve gotten perks here and there over the years because of my blog but those have become far and few between, especially once the popularity of BookTube and Bookstagram came into play and book bloggers sort of fell on the wayside. I’m not popular, I don’t even get ARCs as much as I used to and I didn’t get a ton to begin with. I have a small amount of followers – nearly 6,000 on the blog itself (compared to over 400K people who follow a very popular BookTuber), 2800 followers on instagram (150K for the BookTuber) and maybe 1400 on Twitter (74K). I obviously do not do it for money and popularity.

So why do I do it? Because I love it. I’ve been blogging about all things nerd – yes, mostly books – since 2012. This blog has been a huge part of my life. There have been times in my life where it has fallen on the wayside of other priorities but I’ve never ever stopped blogging. I can’t. This blog has done so much for me and my life. Because of it, I’ve experienced so many amazing things, I’ve met incredible people. I attribute my success in getting published to this blog. My confidence – totally a result of this blog and what its done for me. I love to write for you guys. I love to share how I feel about books and movies. I love to find authors that I love and promote them out of genuine love.

Which brings me to this – I’ve been so lucky that I’ve become friends with people all over the book community – booksellers, agents, publicists, librarians, other bloggers and yes, authors. I’ve considered it a total privilege to become friends with authors and I’ve always been careful to balance my friendship with my love for their work. I’ve always tried to be friends, support their work but make it clear that I never promote their book, leave good reviews, talk them up for any other reason than a genuine love for their work and for them. Friendship is a bonus for me – as a writer, I want more writer friends, I do want to be equals but I never do anything to be friends with anyone that isn’t genuine. Again, I am not in the blogging life for that kind of thing. I’m never trying to get ahead or anything like that.

I’m always nervous that when I reach out to an author that I consider a friend that I’m not coming across genuine. I’m afraid of being an overzealous fan, I’m afraid of looking like I’m taking advantage of that friendship, I’m afraid of being a fan and a friend. I always want to make clear that I genuinely want to be their friend, that I’d love to be equals, colleagues, and that I am not a blogger to be famous but just because I love writing about the things I love. And its actually a really hard balance sometimes but, come on, I’m 31 years old, I do my best. And if an author doesn’t want to be my friend because of whatever reason, including they want to keep a distance between author and blogger, that’s totally fair. I’m okay with that. Again. 31 years old. I’m a big girl.

I won’t name any names in this. This isn’t a hate blog post, its just a…I’m frustrated, you know? I genuinely want to be friends with authors. I’m usually around the same age or older than them. I have been published and am working so hard to become published again. They’re colleagues to me. I want to have more author friends in my life because I feel like its beneficial in so many ways. But I’m not going to force it and I’ll never take advantage of a friendship like that.

And yet…I feel like I’m constantly getting burned by authors. I’m not sure if its because they think they’re better than me or they just see me as a fan and not an equal but its happening and its frustrating and, quite honestly, so so hurtful. I give my all to authors that I love. I promote their books, I buy all the copies, I tell people to buy them, I buy all the different editions, I post on social media and hold giveaways to spread the word – I show so much love and all I’ve ever asked for in return is genuine respect and friendship.

There’s one big thing that will turn me off on an author so fast  and that’s disrespect for fans or other authors. I hate a cocky, arrogant author. I hate an author that is cliquey. I am frustrated by authors who are besties with other authors but have no interest in even being respectful to authors who aren’t published by the same publisher, have the same amount of success or even has a different publishing journey than them. Do you know how many authors have treated me so horribly because I don’t have an agent or a major publisher? Oh yeah, all the time and by authors that I genuinely thought were my friends. Its hurtful. I don’t ask for anything. I don’t ask for feedback on my WIPs, I don’t ask for promotion, I don’t ask for introductions to agents or anything, I don’t ask them to buy my book, I never ask for ARCs, I hardly ever ask for interviews. I am so afraid to take advantage of the friendship that I feel has been established. And instead, it feels like I’m the one that’s being taken advantage of.

I’ve had authors that I’ve gone above and beyond to promote just suddenly disappear after my book was published. Let me clear – I never asked for anything but it seems weird that the next time I spoke with them, we were on panels together, instead of just being in the audience, and I feel like they were nicer to me when I was in the audience. Its hurtful.

And again, if they don’t want to be my friend, okay. Sure. Fine. I am genuinely okay with that. I have no desire to be popular, have never had a desire to be popular and if people don’t like me, that’s not my problem. I move on.

But sometimes I feel I have a genuine friendship with someone and I feel led on and then something happens it hurts so much. Its hurtful and I feel used and I feel…stupid. I feel naive. I feel like I’m being taken advantage of.

Recently, I went down to San Diego for a signing event at a bookstore that I love down there. (I swear, I’m trying to make this as vague as possible because I don’t want to talk sh*t, I just want to share my feelings and experience). I love going down there. I love the store down there and they put on great events. You have to understand though – San Diego isn’t exactly close for me. Its not horribly far but its roughly a two hour drive, depending on the time of day. This is California, after all. I have to take a day off work, use sick or vacation time and put gas in the car, spend money on food in San Diego, etc. I never mind doing this – its like a mini day vacation and I love it and I love San Diego. Its always great for me. But I just want to make it clear that its not an easy thing to do.

We head down to San Diego and I had spoken to the author a few times in the weeks leading up to the event. We’re friends, as far as I was aware. I asked them if they might have time prior to the event to maybe grab lunch or something, since I usually head down earlier in the day to SD to avoid traffic. There was literally no pressure at all and because of my fears and anxiety that I might be bothering them, I made that clear. Instead, the author responded kindly, said they would let me know their plans as soon as they knew them. They followed up with me a couple days before, gave me an update and we made plans to meet up for a meal, lunch or dinner.

I never heard from them. I tried to keep a light, airy, careless tone to my texts the entire day but I never heard anything. They had done a FB Live earlier in the day, talking about how they hadn’t felt good and needed to get some writing done so I thought, okay, they haven’t read their messages, maybe they’re asleep, maybe they’re busy. The boyfriend and I eventually reached a point where we were hungry so we went to a Mexican restaurant that we love in Old Town San Diego. I sent a text to the author, letting them know where we’d be. Nothing. By the time, we got to the restaurant – it was a VERY short walk from where we already were, we were hanging out in the area that the author said they were staying – settled in and ordered, I checked my messages and I felt sick to my stomach. It showed that they had “seen” the messages I’d been sending over the past four hours but no reply.

I tried. I tried really hard to stay calm, positive, happy. I tried to be rational – they’re busy, they’re sick, they’re writing – something but it was really hard to. I felt like I was being ignored, ditched. I was perfectly okay with canceled plans but I wasn’t okay with just an utter lack of communication. It was so hurtful. I genuinely tried to play it off to my boyfriend. We finished our lunch and had quite some time until the event so I suggested heading to the bookstore, picking up my copy of the book and Rainbow Rowell’s new book and maybe finding a park to read at.

When I got to the bookstore, however, I was just not into it anymore. I didn’t even know how to handle going to the event later. It would feel awkward and embarrassing after being ignored all day. I wouldn’t know what to say. Do I play it off, even though I’m extremely hurt? What do I do? I drove all the way down here because I adore this author, I love their books and I want to support them. And at this point, I feel sort of…stupid. Naive. Duped. Used. Its okay if they didn’t want to hang out with me – just don’t make plans then. Its okay if they wanted to hang out when they made the plans but things came up or they changed their mind – it takes two seconds to send a text and they didn’t seem to have any issues posting on twitter.

My anger is coming out and I don’t want to be angry. I’m not really angry. I’m disappointed. I’m sad. I’m hurt. I feel foolish. I feel rejected.

I ended up paying the bookstore some money to get the book signed and shipped to me. I just couldn’t get myself back into an event mood and it didn’t seem worth it to stay, especially since the event was still a couple hours away and I would get home late and have to wake up at 530 am to go to work the next morning. All of these things felt worth it before but suddenly, not anymore. My boyfriend attempted to cheer me up and we went to a local tiki bar that we hadn’t been to before – if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with tiki bars.

I know I made the right decision, it felt better to grab a mai tai and then head home earlier, get a good night’s sleep and be home for my kitties.

But this kind of thing – it isn’t the first time its happened nor is it the first time that I’ve felt like this and to be frank, it just sucks. Hardcore. Its hurtful.

And look, I know there’s a complicated relationship between author and blogger. I know there is. But I try to be the best blogger I can be. I NEVER do negative reviews for books, even if I hated them. I keep it to myself because, as author myself, I know that someone worked hard to write that book and I don’t want to trash someone’s work, even if I don’t like it, even if I think its garbage. I try to treat every author as a person, as an equal and I never act like a crazy fangirl, just a person who really admires and respects this person and their work. I never ask for anything except respect and if friendship comes out of it, that’s great, its awesome and I’m honored by it.

And so its super hurtful to see authors treating their fans, their faithful bloggers, their hardworking friends like someone lower them. I’ve seen it happen again and again and that kind of thing instantly turns me off on an author because I’ve seen the total opposite – I’ve seen authors that are best-selling, popular, sell out events authors be the coolest and most respectful people so when I see others act just awfully, I feel like there’s just no excuse for it. I’ve had BIG YA authors treat me with respect, with friendship, with courtesy, with love, with equality. You can read about my experience with fantasy phenom, Brandon Sanderson, here (http://whatanerdgirlsays.org/2017/11/15/book-signings-and-why-brandon-sanderson-is-my-new-hero/) to see what I mean.

I’m frustrated. I’m hurt. I’m still sad about it. I look up to this author a lot. This author inspired a tattoo. This author inspired my own writing. This author didn’t have to my best friend. They didn’t have to hang out with me. But they did owe me respect and I don’t feel like I got that and it makes me sad.

I had a string of experiences like this that were so bad, so discouraging, so hurtful, so disappointing that it effected me in a major way. I almost quit blogging. I haven’t finished writing anything since The Sanctuary in 2016. 3 years. Because I didn’t feel like the book community, as a blogger and as a writer, liked me or welcomed me and I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. It was remembering why I started this blog in the first place, why I loved it and why I did it just for me that brought me back to it and I’ve been focusing on that. But this experience reminded me of those feelings and I’m working hard to get past them.

I work hard. I love books. I love sharing with the world my love for books. I don’t do it to be famous. I don’t do it to make money. If I did, I would’ve given up a long time ago. I haven’t made a dime in the 7 and a half years of doing this. I do it because I want to. I do it for the authors that are brilliant and are my friends. To be treated as lesser, without respect, really hurts. Its noticed. And when its noticed, my support disappears. I can’t handle it. I will not go out of my way, using my personal time and money and effort, to support someone who won’t show me an ounce of respect.

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