Etiquette Guide to the Online Book Community (Part 1): For Readers

I know I complain a lot about how busy my life is, but I somehow manage to scroll through social media even on the days I have no time to breathe. I’m sure it’s the same for everyone else out there too. If you enjoy books, you can definitely find like-minded people just about on any platform, but the most interactive ones (to the best of my knowledge) happen to be Twitter and Instagram. While it is very simple to express an opinion and have the entire world pay attention to what you have to say, I for one am not a fan of putting forth every thought to cross your mind on public display. I don’t tweet or post often on social media, but watching from the sidelines has taught me a lot about what to say, what not to say and how to get your message across effectively. I decided to share my learnings with you all here today and I hope you take away some valuable lessons as well.

Etiquette Guide Part 1

1. Avoid spoilers

This is one of those no-brainers that people cannot seem to follow. If you know anything about this world, you probably know that not everyone is currently reading whatever book you have on hand. It may be on their TBR pile or you may have jumped the queue and gotten an ARC. Whatever the reason, sharing spoiler-y thoughts about your current read is most definitely NOT a good idea.

TIP: Of course you’re allowed to share your thoughts on social media, but it’s just good manners to be responsible about it. For example, on Twitter, you could do a thread of your spoiler-y thoughts by having the first tweet warn others about it and tweeting whatever you please from the second one onwards. On Instagram, you can separate out the spoiler and non-spoiler sections with white spaces or ellipses or emojis in your caption. If it’s in the photo itself, use two different ones so that interested people can swipe left to see the spoiler-y picture.


2. Don’t tag authors in reviews

This was something I didn’t know at first, but I was lucky enough not to learn this the hard way. New bloggers especially aren’t aware of this unspoken rule, but it’s rather obvious when you think about it.Β It is not the reader’s responsibility to point out what they didn’t like in a book hoping that the author will improve in the future. After all, reviews are subjective opinions. Authors are always advised not to look at reviews since it’s practically impossible for every reader on this good earth to love their book. When you @ them with a link to your review, chances are they’ll be tempted to look. That has led to several messy situations in the past (to the point of stalking) and it’s something best avoided, trust me.

TIP: If you want to tell an author that you loved their book, just @ them in a post that doesn’t contain a link to your review. It is best to do it right after you finish the book. Chances are that the author will be touched by your support and show your post some love by liking or replying or retweeting. Please note that this should not be used as a way to get famous or attention from the author, but a genuine appreciation for their work.


3. Don’t quote someone without permission

I feel like I’m stating really basic etiquette rules, but this one need reiteration for the simple reason that it’s violated so many times. I have lost count of the number of times there’s been a bit of back-and-forth over being misquoted or having words taken out of context. Unfortunately, social media makes it very easy to steal someone’s words and spin it into a click-bait post.

TIP: Be nice and ask someone before using their words. DM them if they are comfortable, or get hold of their email. You can reply to the post from which you want to quote asking for permission as well. Always provide the correct context for the quote and you can even go so far as clarifying the intent before using someone’s words publicly.


4. Be sensitive towards #ownvoices authors

Recently on Twitter, one of my favourite authors was questioned about the kind of names her protagonists had and whether they were “real”. Her debut book came out last year and she’s an Indian-American author writing about Indian-American teens. This little incident had me so frustrated that this got a bullet point all of its own. Representation is a tricky topic in the book community these days and one that seems to be shrouded in controversy all the time. Not every type of identity in a book will represent you, so obviously it’s okay to read or comment on or review books that are diverse, but please exercise some caution when it comes voicing your opinions. If a character does not reflect your identity and you know nothing about it, you have no right to criticise an #ownvoices author for what they chose to write about in their book specific to that identity.

TIP: Always link to an #ownvoices reviewer’s post or quote their opinion (with permission, as previously mentioned) if you feel the need to talk about it. Also keep in mind that not everyone has the same experiences, so it’s better to just keep silent rather than indulge in impulsive speech.


5. Stay away from trolls

These abominable creatures lurk around in every corner of the internet and it’s inevitable that you run into one in this lifetime if you’re on any social media. I know that some people may disagree with this, but I firmly believe in not indulging in a conversation with people who are out to drag you down at all costs. Chances of getting defensive, abusive and hostile are quite high and you also risk losing followers who might actually enjoy your content.

TIP: If you do have to deal with trolls, just remember it’s Levi-O-sa, not Levios-A.



What social media do you use? What can Book Twitter and Bookstagram do better? Do you have any more tips to add? Let me know in the comments section below.

30 thoughts on “Etiquette Guide to the Online Book Community (Part 1): For Readers

  1. This made for a really interesting read, I for one don’t @ authors in reviews but I have @ some in the past asking questions and it always makes my day when they get round to replying. I think another one to point out would be remember an author may not get round to seeing your tweet, some do and other simply don’t have the time. They’re busy people.

    Great post πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d actually disagree with having to ask permission to quote someone. I guess it could be nice, but it’s not really necessary. If someone says someone publicly, other people have the right to quote them. That said, I’m probably thinking of quoting people in an uplifting way, like quoting part of a nice review where they said they loved a book or something. I’m definitely against quoting people in an attempt to get other people angry at them, which happens on Twitter a lot. Like, “Look at the horrible thing Person A said! Go tell them you agree with me that this is horrible!” Even if it WAS horrible, getting yelled at by 50 people online usually just makes people defensive; it’s probably not going to convince them it was horrible and they should self-reflect and change their ways or whatever. And I agree that sometimes it wasn’t even that horrible of a thing to say because, yeah, it was taken out of context.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, that’s what usually happens on Twitter. Since I was focusing on social media in this and not blog posts/reviews, I said that asking permission is always better. Most people do a whole thread of thoughts and people get offended for just one of the tweets in that without checking out the entire thing. So it’s best to ask before retweeting that and pulling that person down. You make a good point. πŸ™‚


  3. Back when I started blogging, there weren’t many bloggers and I sucked at interacting so I once tagged an author in a negative review. Most of the time, though, I only tag authors iif it’s a completely positive review or the post isn’t a review at all.
    I think the quoting and linking depends – if it’s in a positive way, then sure, it’s probably fine. If it’s quoting more than just a sentence or two, then definitely ask for permission. Of course, its always good to ask for permission first if you’re not sure. I’d say to tread carefully when it comes to quoting and linking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’ve made the mistake of tagging authors in not so positive reviews too when I started out. The memory still makes me want to hide under my bed. πŸ™ˆ Yeah, I think that with experience you can decide to tag the author or not, but since I wrote this with new bloggers in mind, I gave whatever advice that I thought would fall under the ‘better safe than sorry’ kind. πŸ™‚
      People have become a lot more sensitive with quoting. I see a lot of times on Twitter that people get mad at other even if they are doing it in a positive way because it’s an invasion of their space or for similar reasons. I think it’s always better to ask – it takes only a few minutes. Also, the person you’re quoting will at least read whatever you have to say, if not promote your post as well, so it’s a win-win. πŸ˜„


  4. Good post !
    I always try my best not to give spoilers .. but it’s quite hard .. 😑 im trying, atleast in my reviews ..
    also it’s quite easy to make me mad xD so I’d be an easy target .. even a prank call at work made my blood boil… but anyway – I haven’t got any yet, so hopefully I won’t get many !

    Im using twitter & tumblr for the most part, still on the fence of if I wanna do a 2nd instagram for books ..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly what you mean. Even trivial things make me mad. πŸ˜… I try my best but sometimes I just can’t, you know? Pranks make me super mad as well. πŸ™ˆ
      I have a Tumblr but don’t do much with it. Any tips on how you use that? Unless you have the time for a Bookstagram (that too as a second account), it’s not really worth it I think. That’s just my opinion of course, you’re free to decide as you please. πŸ™‚


      1. mmhmm x) im always like eeeeerh … is this, spoiler ? or aint ? idk ..
        Well, what I do with mine is I share my WP post there, reblog bookish things, post my pictures of books .. and just, generally interact with the bookish people over there !

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great tips. When I first started my blog, I made the mistake of tagging an author in a three star review. Felt really bad afterwards. Not making that mistake again. That name issue in the Indian American authors book also frustrated me. I’m like a lot of authors use names that sound strange and made up to me but Its a free world. So seeing people drag her for it wasn’t nice at all. I feel sometimes we bookworms focus on really trivial things. I like her books and can’t wait to read the next one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to know you found the post worth your time. πŸ™‚ I think I’ve made that mistake too and I cringe every time I remember it. Being a new blogger is quite hard unless you have someone tell you what not to do. πŸ˜…
      I love her books too and I can’t wait to have her next book in my hands! Maybe you’ll be up for a buddy read around its release date? Let me know. πŸ™‚
      I’m so glad to hear your views. It’s great that we have people like you in the community! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awww stop making me blah😊😊 I’m definitely up for a buddy read if I can get my hands on it. Not sure if that would be possible around its release date though. πŸ’–πŸ’–

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Whenever would be fine I think. I mean to pre-order it no matter the cost because I want to support Sandhya, so I don’t know if I can resist a shiny new book, you know? Maybe we can decide closer to release date! πŸ™‚


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  7. Nice post! I don’t believe in being spoiler-y for others for the obvious reasons that you stated. But I disagree with you on the point where you said not to tag authors in your reviews. I think it is more related to a bad or good review. If I enjoyed the book and gave a positive review, then I always tag the authors to give them the appreciation and to know the world about the author. However, if my review is negative, I don’t tag the author then.
    But yes, I agree with you for keeping yourself away from trolls.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you liked it and agree with most of it. 😁
      Yup, if you have written a glowing review, then by all means tagging authors is fine! πŸ™‚ I usually don’t just to stay on the safer side because I might have said something mildly negative unless I’ve given it a perfect rating. I think an experienced reviewer would be the best judge but when I was a newbie I don’t think I had this judgement, which is why I put it like that. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. shesgoingbookcrazy

    Lovely post, Nandini! There is a lot of valuable information in here, and things that many may easily not think about when interacting with the book community! Thanks for taking the time to write this!

    Liked by 1 person

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