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Author Divas Censor Book Reviewers

May 2, 2013 by Kiersi

What is going on with authors this past week? It’s like spring came and the divas of the book world woke up from hibernation in full-attack mode. Remember that part where you wrote a book and then put it out there in the world? Where did it become okay to attack readers for writing honest reviews about them?

Let’s start at the beginning, where a reviewer I follow on Goodreads posted her honest review of a vampire novel. (I’m already getting No Remorse flashbacks here, shudder.) She received a free copy of the book in exchange for her honest review. That should be where this story ends. I mean, I don’t even know why I have to go on here.

Instead of backing away and leaving it at that, the author of said vampire novel, P. J. Dominicis, wrote an email to her “literary idol” Anne Rice, asking for… I’m not sure what, actually. Emotional support, I guess? That doesn’t really bother me much; authors are people too, and reading a negative review can be a trying experience. (Though, if I were to give any advice here, it’s just… don’t read them, bro, and spare yourself the experience.)

It’s what Dominicis and Rice ended up doing with it that really pokes my palms: posting a plea for “comments” on the negative review to Anne Rice’s Facebook page, which boasts 740,000+ fans.

I’m sure you can figure out the rest. It’s like aiming a sea of junkyard guard dogs at a piece of raw meat and cutting the leashes. (I’ve seen a couple of blog posts defending Rice’s behavior, as if it’s not her fault that her fans just happened to attack and destroy. My response: this particular book reviewer has expressed the desire to never review a book again. If the consequences to writing your honest opinion are this high, what’s the incentive for real reviews anymore at all? Do we really want a world populated by fake, 5-star-spewing puppets? I don’t.)

I don’t even care what the review was about. I’m not going to read this book and then check over the review to see if I agree with the reviewer, and then tear her apart if I feel she was unfair to the book. (As many people did.) It literally does not matter what the reviewer had to say: she wrote up her honest opinion, which was requested by the author, and that’s that. End. Finis. Done. This is how the book review process works.

To quote Wikipedia:

book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit.[1] A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review.[2] Books can be reviewed for printed periodicals, magazines and newspapers, as school work, or for book web sites on the internet. A book review’s length may vary from a single paragraph to a substantial essay. Such a review may evaluate the book on the basis of personal taste. Reviewers may use the occasion of a book review for a display of learning or to promulgate their own ideas on the topic of a fiction or non-fiction work.

I think I’m missing the part where this is some sort of critical dialogue between reviewers and authors. Oh, right–because it’s not. And bringing your grievances to a pack of 740,000 people tastes a lot like bullying to me, even if your remarks simply say, “Comments welcome.” Yes, you are responsible for what your loyal pack does with those words.

The plot thickens. The next day, Rice posted another casual “request for comments” on a small-time book blogger’s negative review of Rice’s 1998 novel, Pandora. (1998? Really? You’re upset about a review of a book you published more than ten years ago?)

Here’s what actually happened: the blogger in question picked up a tatty, mass-market paperback copy of the book that she was planning to cut up and use in an art project, and on a lark decided to read the book first. (A note on this: you can do whatever the hell you want with a book once you buy it. It’s your property now and none of anyone else’s business. End of story.)

The blogger didn’t like Pandora very much. Which–oh, here it is again–is absolutely within her rights. SHOCKER.

Cue: rabid pack of fans flooding this little book blogger’s page with fury. Aww, poor Ricey-poo, feeling a little down in the dumps because someone on the playground said some not-so-nice things? Crushing mice under my boots always makes me feel better, too.

A number of her fans were understandably disturbed by this big time authoress’s diva-slash-bully behavior. This is my favorite reply:

Waah, indeed.

So then comes yesterday. The Romantic Times convention is going on right now, and according to @LBardugo (who was actually there when it happened, along with @trishaleighKC), E. L. James, author of the infamous BDSM novel Fifty Shades of Grey, stood up in the middle of a New Adult panel and told the panelists to stop talking about her book.

I think Leigh put it best: “I just saw ‘eff you money’ in action.”

Yep.

Get rich enough, authors, and you can do whatever you want no matter the venue–and everyone will chuckle nervously and move on.

Thanks, Anne Rice, for making me feel afraid to write this, in case you post my link on your Facebook page as well.

Thanks for making the honest book bloggers I trust to help me make my buying choices feel afraid to write their opinions.

You’re a real star.


17 Comments »

  1. Elaine says:

    Wow, I’m sort of glad the last Anne Rice I read was before blogs & FB. (Vampire Armand, which was a gift from my mom, brand-new in hardback, because before that I looooooved everything Rice wrote. Like, stood in line to get books signed a couple of times. And then I hated that book so much that I threw it across the room when I was done, and IIRC haven’t read anything she’s written since then. I would’ve written the rantiest blog post.)

    • Kiersi says:

      Yeah, no kidding! You dodged the bullet. I read part of one Anne Rice book and I didn’t care for it at all. I think it was a stylistic thing more than content, but that was high school and I haven’t tried again. Thanks for the comment, Elaine!

  2. This is why I don’t read reviews that aren’t 4 or 5 stars. Yes, it hurts when someone doesn’t like my books, but that’s entirely their right. I’d never tell them they’re wrong for feeling that way. While I hate to see any author cut down by a reviewer, I love reviewers who are honest in a respectful way. You can not care for a book without slamming an author. But reading is subjective and that’s the bottom line. If you can’t handle people not liking your books, then don’t make them available to everyone. Pass them out among your family and friends. No one loves everything they read. It’s just fact.

  3. This is horrific but nearly as bad as what the Sandra Brown has put me through for the last month plus. U want a story youve got it and all the emails to go with it. Because my editors name is or was rather Sandea Brown the Sandra Brown had a fit and had my books pulled from amazon and cost me my contract with Barnes altogether over a name… im Shaunna Rodruguez. Best selling author of several books notably Deception. Feel free to contact me @ [email protected] my battle is going to the White House by the time I’m finished.

    Great blog kudos!

    • Kiersi says:

      I’m so sorry to hear this story, Shaunna. Pretty lame what people do to other people in a “professional” capacity.

  4. Andrew says:

    Sheesh. Yeah a bad review hurts, but come on! That is just ridiculous. Why would you care, especially if you’re swimming in money like Rice or James? So someone doesn’t like your book? There are that many more who will. It just smacks of the worst kind of ego.

    • Kiersi says:

      Right? You’ve reached such critical acclaim as to have a few movies made about your books and be a lifetime bestselling author. There are bigger fish to fry.

  5. I haven’t read Rice but it’s still disappointing. It’s true what they say–money (and power) doesn’t equal taste (or dignity).

  6. Kiersi says:

    Sigh. True that.

  7. angel011 says:

    Reviewing a book can be tricky, indeed, whether the author is famous or not. You never know how someone’s going to react, and some people react in an inappropriate manner, to say the least. Which is ridiculous, since they’re not in the kindergarten anymore, though you’d never guess it from their behaviour.

  8. Writerlious says:

    Wow –reminds me of that whole Alice Hoffman/Twitter kerfuffle a few years ago. Yipes!

  9. Interesting, and sad. And kinda funny too. Like we’re all still kids in high school, no matter how rich and famous we become. Not sure this is related, but I just saw documentary on all the new high-tech weapons the military has nowadays and the way the men on the show talked about them made me think “boys and their toys”–do we ever grow up? Or just more powerful and lethal and destructive. Hadn’t expected to find that in the literary community–but there it is.

    • Kiersi says:

      Wow, that’s a good analogy. The internet really has made authors able to do what they couldn’t before–lash back in an extremely public sphere. I bet Faulkner would’ve done this if he could. That guy was off his rocker.

  10. Michelle says:

    I guess reviews are having a tough time. Amazon keeps deleting them too. How rude of an author though!

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