Friday, February 16

Fangirl Breeding Grounds... aka... Tell me how much you love me...

A couple of weeks ago there was a column on RTB about author message boards and forums and how great they are, they allow authors and readers to interact. But the whole concept left me thinking "OMG, they're fangirl breeding grounds." And I almost commented this at the time, but held back as I didn't want to rain on anyone's parade.

Maybe I should have posted something, it might have opened up an interesting dialogue as to why they exist and whether or not they're really just ego stroking for authors. The cynical, mean girl in me says that's exactly what these type of sites are for, and honestly, how appropriate would it be to say "Gee, I hated this book, it had plot holes you could drive a Mack truck through" or "The heroine was whiney and TSTL"?

These sites aren't meant for critical review or commentary, they're all about the love. I've always felt author message boards and forums are for cheerleaders. Places where readers can gush and rave and thank their bestest, favorite author for writing the bestest book ever.

Unfortunately I was never a cheerleader, and always feel a bit uncomfortable on these types of sites. That's not to say I don't visit author websites, but for me these on a whole are for reference, places to find backlist and future publishing dates. And, yet you'll find several authors on my Blog Hopping Stops, all of them have interesting blogs that comment on writing and life and never feel like "Rah Rah" sites.

Maybe it's the message board/forum thing. It's like saying "I'm out here, now tell me how much you love me." I guess it depends on perspective... reader, fangirl or author. I'm sure authors love the positive feedback and fans love to talk about favorites and I've been known to have fangirl tendencies when it comes to certain authors. But, there's an invisible line between fangirl and fanatic and that's the one some readers are really uncomfortable with.

18 comments:

Devon said...

ITA, Tara. It's a nice enough idea, but there is some serious ego-stroking going on. And it goes both ways. When your favorite author starts to "recognize" you, talk to you etc. it's got to be a big rush. That's when it gets really crazy. "I wub, wub, wub u..." "No, I wub, wub, wub u..."

That being said, I don't think it could be any different. I don't really think an author forum is a place for criticism. Just seems kinda nasty. I used to check out LKH's MB sometimes...people were so mean on that one.

Tara Marie said...

Devon, you're right that ego stroking goes both ways.

And, I completely agree they're not meant for criticism, it is nasty and inappropriate. And yet when you know a book isn't up to par and you see the gushing and raving you're left wondering why. It's like the pink elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about, but you have to take it elsewhere.

Megan Frampton said...

I agree with your comments, Tara. I like certain authors, but don't need to visit their cheerleader sites just so I can read that other people love the author as much as I do.

If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, then reading author fan sites is like tapping your feet to a building you can't see. Lame (and yes, I am talking both about my extended analogy and the whole concept of fan sites).

Laura F. said...

Oh, you SHOULD have posted about this. It would have been a fascinating discussion.

When I sold my first book (which was about 2 years before it actually appeared), I grew very curious about what other authors were doing to connect with readers online, and I joined three of my favorite authors boards/forums. I mostly dropped out about a year later when I was pregnant and just unable to juggle even small extra things, but once in a while I still pop back on.

They AREN'T places for dissing on the author, you're absolutely right that would be inappropriate. And there's a lot of praise heaped certainly! But then, I think the enthusiasm for someone's books is pretty cool.

But it also seems to me that the vast majority of time is spent discussing so many other things. Love of the author is the common point of reference that draws people in, but then they make friendships, support each other through various life events, and discuss anything and everything. I met someone from Nora Roberts' board the other day and went to the board for the first time to try to find her and send her a Hello, and it was DIZZYing, the amount of subjects being discussed. I slunk away, unable to even begin finding her.

So...I don't know that I have any defining thoughts about them. But it would be interesting to see a great discussion on them!

Tara Marie said...

Megan, I like your analogy and it fits.

Laura, I think there are some message boards and forums that do create more than just a reader/fangirl/author lovefest. So many of my on-line friendships started at RT's message boards.

But there's a difference between enthusiasm and blindly believing every word ever written by an author is gold. Those are the sites that make me feel uncomfortable. There are reader blogs I visit that have these same types of followers, sometimes authors, sometimes readers.

Kat O+ said...

OK, I'm a Cellie and I've actually been to a Cellie meet up. Eek! And I do think that for some people, the Boards become a kind of crutch and the blind adoration for the author and books become a little weird. I don't generally mind it because who am I to say they shouldn't gush with praise? What I mind is when people with genuine questions or criticisms are shouted down, or when fans visit reader reviews and pile on without getting to know the (often snarky) voice of the reviewer first. I think the point at which fanaticism becomes creepy is when people start to lose their sense of humour and perspective.

CindyS said...

kat 0+ - I was thinking about Ward when Tara Marie blogged about this but you're right, it's okay to bond over something (I bond with bloggers who love romance books). Just say no to review stalking ;)

And I agree with others about saying anything too negative on an author board - saying you preferred one book over an other shows, to me, that you are a discerning reader who knows a great book when they read one. Having a bunch of people weep and tear their hair out because they have to pick just one book by the author as their favourite - well, I'm far from impressed.

I also think it's an ego stroking thing and hey, I'm a blogger who likes to see comments so I have my own issues ;) But it's definitely a double-edged sword. How do you as someone who's been on an authors list forever tell said author that her last book fell flat. You don't.

Also, what happens when the fanatic fangirls leave? X-files was a huge hit and websites were everywhere - now you go to one and it hasn't been updated in years. I wonder what the people involved in the show think. Maybe there will always be fangirls for an author but I think you have to be Nora Roberts good to have longevity with a group of readers.

CindyS

Tara Marie said...

Kat...

I think the point at which fanaticism becomes creepy is when people start to lose their sense of humour and perspective.

Exactly, stalking review sites because they had the nerve to write something negative is creepy.

Praise and gushing is fine, I'm all for it and I can even understand the shouting down of the decenting voice, because it probably isn't the appropriate place and yet the "if you don't have anything nice to say..." mentality is at times overkill.

Cindy, I wasn't thinking Ward, but I'm sure her fangirls fit the pattern.

The double-edged sword is the pink elephant for me. Not every book is a keeper and yet the fanatics never see the flaws. It's one thing to overlook them it's another to not see them because the author is "just the bestest".

Rosie said...

The gushing, role playing can all get to be a bit much. I haven't belonged for a long time. Like you I visit my favorite authors web sites to see what's going on.

For me, while bloggers aren't perfect, reading and blogging has been more rewarding and worthwhile endeavor to interact on the subjects that interest me than the forums and message boards.

Tara Marie said...

For me, while bloggers aren't perfect, reading and blogging has been more rewarding and worthwhile endeavor to interact on the subjects that interest me than the forums and message boards.

A big me too to this :)

Kristie (J) said...

Me - I'm agin 'em. There is one author message board I lurk at sometimes and while some of the posters seem nice, a lot of them are just plain weird! Personally I don't like the whole idea because like you, I think it's just a way for the author to get a major ego stroke - and I will never to that to ANY author and also they are a breeding ground for crazies. Author websites yes - I appreciate those, author blogs - well there are very few I visit (in fact only one) - but message boards - nope - DO NOT like them.

Anonymous said...

Never been on an author fan girl site, except once I surfed over to Jennie Crusie's blog and saw something about a fan site.
I was a cheerleader, honest!, but I rarely feel the need to cheer for books or authors. I dunno. I feel like I've always lived my life on the fringe anyhow, so fan sites wouldn't appeal to me. Too intense.

Sam

Tara Marie said...

Kristie, a lot of them are just plain weird! I've always considered myself a little weird, but some seem to take weird to a new level don't they? LOL

Sam, "too intense" that sounds right.

Ann(ie) said...

I use my blog to interact with people. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with a "me" oriented message board.

Tara Marie said...

Annie, I can understand some of the big names in publishing doing this, but a newbie trying it to interact with their fan base seems a little out there. Blogging is one thing but a message board all about me and my books is another--LOL.

sybil said...

Hey cindys color me one of those people with an old x-files site... hell I still help mod one that is still going...

They move on to other fandoms ;).

wow tara I need to start going to RtB more... this completely ties into something I wanted to talk about...

Of course it sounds much more bitchy when I say it, why is that?

Tara Marie said...

sybil--once a fangirl always a fangirl, when one obsession is gone we move one to another--LOL.

And what was it that you wanted to talk about?

And you'll notice I didn't actually post this over there I decided to avoid the conflict, which was probably bad of me, but I think the woman who posted the initial column is probably too sweet to confront to harshly--definitely a rah rah type. Kind of like kicking a puppy.

Kat O+ said...

For some reason I wandered back into this post and had forgotten I'd commented. I just have to add, per CindyS's comment...someone ought to make a "Just say no to review stalking" blog icon thingamajig. :-)