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Icon made by Gav at Gavreads

Icon made by Gav at Gavreads

There has been a recent kerfuffle on the internet regarding the position of authors when commenting on reviews of their own work. It all started when Ben Aarnovitch commented on a post on Book Smugglers regarding what he perceived as some errors in perception in his Peter Grant series of books, and was told, quite bluntly, that authors had no right to come into what the author of the post regarded as “fanspace” and comment on their interpretations of his work.

http://thebooksmugglers.com/2013/07/smugglers-ponderings-on-the-peter-grant-series-by-ben-aarnovitch.html

This was a few months ago. A few days ago, blogger Renay put up a post on Strange Horizons addressing the issue. Again, the theme of the post was that creators, being the welders of the Power, had no right to come into this sacred “fanspace” throwing their weight about – fanspace belongs to fans, not authors or Industry types.

http://www.strangehorizons.com/2013/20130909/renay-c.shtml

So that’s the background to this post. I’ve stated before on here that I tend not to respond to reviews beyond a *like* and maybe a “thank you”, but I regard it very much as a YMMV issue. I have seen authors, on several occasions, make pillocks of themselves by throwing their toys out of the pram in response to a negative review, and hey, it happens, authors are people too, and sometimes we get silly or upset.

But I don’t believe, on this occasion, that Ben Aaronovitch did chuck his rattle. My interpretation is that he stepped in to correct a misconception of his work and then got jumped on. Maybe he should have stepped in, maybe he shouldn’t (I probably wouldn’t have, in that situation, but again, YMMV and there’s nothing wrong with that). That’s not what’s up for debate here. That’s not what’s bugging me.

What’s bugging me is the idea that a creator has, according to some fans, no right to comment on their work in the blogosphere after it has been published. That the creator, who may also be and most probably is a fan, is forbidden from interacting with other fans in fan spaces just because they are a creator. And I think that’s wrong. I think a blanket ban on creators in fan spaces promotes division. It encourages a culture of “us and them”. It discourages us from engaging in healthy and civilised discussion about SFF by starting off with the assumption that one party has no right to even be there. And, at a time when debate is raging about diversity in SF, do we really want to be shutting down anyone’s voice?

Smarter people than me have blogged about this already this morning, notably Shadowhawk’s Shade:

http://sonsofcorax.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/publishing-and-marketing-06-writers-welcome-and-reviewing-etiquette/

Also Bookworm Blues :

http://www.bookwormblues.net/2013/09/15/authors-welcome/

and Gavreads :

http://gavreads.co.uk/2013/09/15/im-open-to-authors-commenting-and-if-there-was-any-doubt-i-made-a-sign/

(Gav was responsible for the nifty “Authors Welcome” icon)

It goes without saying that any author / creator who wants to interact with me on Making Things Up For A Living is more than welcome (trolls, spammers and scammers – this does not apply to you). The only rule I would like you to abide by is the Universal Rule of The Internet – Don’t Be A Dick. You can be an author / agent / blogger / critic / fan / flying monkey, just don’t be a dick.

I look forward to chatting with you!

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