This past week, two authors I greatly admire popped up on Facebook–Jack Gantos and poet Betsy Franco. A dozen times I’ve gone back and forth whether or not to send a friend request. I usually don’t request myself, but I’ve been delighted to get some friend requests from authors. Since I don’t live in a part of the country with a lot of authors nearby, it’s a really nice opportunity to get to know some of them better.
You learn so much about the writing life and process from some of the people’s posts on Facebook. It’s enlightening and fascinating to me. But it worries me a little bit too, because when you get to know someone as a person, then when you have the Advanced Reader Copy of their newest book in your hands to review, suddenly you are looking at it with two sets of eyes. Obviously you really really want it to be great.
Fortunately, everything I’ve gotten so far has been excellent. And I also find that I can separate the book from the person and review the book on its own merits, but I must admit that it’s a little bit harder. It requires some real attention to being unbiased whatever the result. One of the things I admire most about my editor at The Horn Book, Roger Sutton, is his ability to say what he thinks clearly and without fussing over anything. He just says what he thinks, and everyone knows him to be truthful despite his many friendships in the field. So he’s my role model.
Still, I think I won’t send those friend requests. I’m sure it’s pretty fun to get a sneak peek into Jack Gantos’ life, but since he writes fairly autobiographically anyway, I guess I already do. I’ll be satisfied with that.