Anne Rice regarding the Amazon Review
This interview is being included in the 2013 Women in Horror Interview Series. Every February, Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. You can find out more about WiHM here:
The Amazon Review
It is the bane of many a writers: the bad review. Modern writers face not only the historic press review, but in this internet age, are bombarded with user reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Most upcoming writers dread it: the famous Amazon user one-star review. So it might be useful to know it’s not just us: even critically well received works like “Memnoch the Devil” by well-know authors like Anne Rice, a pioneer and still one of the few successful women in horror, have to face this gauntlet. On Facebook, Anne Rice shared her views on criticism and the way it can hold back even the greatest of writers. Someday she says, she might write an essay about it. In the mean time, this is what she had to say:
Anne Rice Regarding Amazon Reviews
Anne Rice: Some day, perhaps, on this page (her Facebook Page) or elsewhere, we can have a discussion of how Amazon reviews affect authors.
Sumiko Saulson: That would be greatly appreciated, Anne.
Anne Rice: Authors have told me they will not go on Amazon at all. They’ve been so devastated by the savage reviews there that they simply can’t. I’m not sure people posting reviews on Amazon are aware of how much power they have not only to hurt and devastate and block the author, but to play into something of a mob mentality on the site itself. — My advice to any sensitive author would be don’t go there. Protect yourself. On the other hand I do think the quality of Amazon reviews can be improved; and I review books myself on Amazon. I only do five star reviews of books I completely recommend because I don’t see the point of talking much about something that I don’t recommend. But I think there are some wonderfully written and constructive and insightful negative reviews in all fields, non fiction and fiction. —- I think when people take the time to write a responsible and thoughtful review, negative or positive, that should be appreciated. I often vote on comment on other people’s reviews of books I’m buying or considering buying. —- But there’s a huge difference between non fiction reviews on Amazon and the fiction reviews. —- And I wouldn’t recommend any young or vulnerable author read reviews on Amazon. Authors can be blocked for years by negative reviews.
Sumiko Saulson: Thank you. I really appreciate what you are saying. I also understand it: criticism can make you feel like giving up. I have to really admire and respect the courage of great writers such as yourself who have been able to push through it: H.P. Lovecraft was heavily criticized throughout his lifetime, although now he is appreciated, he didn’t get to know a lot of that praise in life. Criticism can stop artists and writers. A lot of writers and artists are tapping into a deep well of emotion and experience to put together something very close to our hearts. I pretty much feel the same way as you do about bad reviews: I only review books I would give a 4 or 5 star rating. Honestly, I couldn’t even finish reading a book I would have given a 1 star review to, so it kind of amazes me that anyone else can.
Anne Rice: Thank you. There are so many stories about authors devastated by bad reviews. Melville didn’t write for decades due to the hurt of reviews of Moby Dick. Carson McCullers was destroyed by a review from Edmond Wilson.. So many authors have been hurt. —- We have to face that there are many kinds of negative reviews, many kinds, from ugly and hateful and irresponsible to responsible and well written and constructive. One thing I know: most authors don’t view the writing of a book as an aggressive or hostile act. And they are completely unprepared for the aggressive and hostile tone of many reviewers. —- Add to that that many in America consider it a patriotic duty to hate celebrities whom they love and do not wish to do without. Look at the kind of gratuitous hate heaped on people like Tom Cruise or Madonna simply because they are perceived as famous and powerful. — Maybe some time I’ll try to write an essay about the subject. There are so many factors in play.
Sumiko Saulson: I agree. There is a lot of unnecessary animosity towards celebrities in America. I was born in Los Angeles, when you live in L.A. you get to know that celebrities are just people, and fame doesn’t cause you to launch out into orbit and lose all of the same human emotions a person is born into this life with.
I would love it if you wrote an essay about it.
I don’t know if you realize it but what you have to say is very important and encouraging to aspiring writers. Fear of bad reviews and one star reviews can easily stop people from even wanting to try… and I was wondering can I quote you? I think people need to know we are not alone. Thank you for being so open with us.
Anne Rice: (via email) Yes, you may indeed quote me. I never say anything on the page that cannot be quoted anywhere and at anytime. Sometimes in my spontaneous posts I don’t say something as well as I might if I took more time, but I do try to make every word count, and yes, I am honored that you might quote me. Do it.
From: Anne Rice’s Facebook Page, Facebook Thread Regarding Amanda Pike’s One Star Review of Memnoch the Devil
~ by Sumiko Saulson on August 18, 2012.
Posted in Interviews, WiHM 2013, Writing Advice
Tags: Amazon Reviews, Anne Rice, Author, criticism, fiction, Horror, Interview, literature, Memnoch the Devil, novel, one star reviews, surviving criticism, vampire, Vampire Lestat, Women in Horror, Women in Horror Interview Series, Women in Horror Month, Women in Horror Month 2013