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:
A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review. 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:
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.
Holy unexpected badassery. The real E. L. James just stood up in the audience and shut this panel DOWN. “Stop talking about my book.”
— Leigh Bardugo (@LBardugo) May 1, 2013
I think Leigh put it best: “I just saw ‘eff you money’ in action.”
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.