When Authors Pull an Anne Rice

Yesterday, the internet was abuzz with news that author Anne Rice posted a link on her Facebook page noting that a blogger had given her novel, Pandora, a bad review and proceeded to rip up the book (literally) for a decoupage project. For those of us who follow Rice on Facebook, she wrote her customary “Comments welcome” above this post, which she often does to promote discussion about various things — usually current events. Although she didn’t encourage anyone to, needless to say, many of Rice’s 740,000+ FB fans barged over to the blogger’s page and let her have it. And some of the comments left for this blogger were pretty hurtful.

Anytime an author interacts with a reviewer, particularly one who has given a bad review, sparks are bound to fly. I agree with the first line of this Mary Sue blog post which discusses the Anne Rice incident: “If there’s one valuable lesson a creator can learn, it’s not to engage with reviewers.” I just feel like there is nothing to be gained by confronting someone who posts a bad review. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and shouldn’t have to defend it or justify it.

The other day I got a lukewarm review for Baby Grand. Hey, it happens. But what especially bothered me about this review was that there was something written that was factually incorrect — it never happened in my book! A friend suggested, “Why don’t you just write a comment under the review and tell the reviewer what’s incorrect?” I shook my head. I told him that I find it lame when authors do that for the reasons I stated above. As I wrote on Anne Rice’s post: Better to just shrug one’s shoulders, I think, and move on.

The other day, a blogger wrote (for the life of me, I can’t remember where — I read so many blogs!) that his grandfather told him never to look strangers in the eye, particularly when you see them acting erratically. You just keep walking. The blogger said he uses his grandfather’s advice when dealing with internet commenters — who, essentially, are strangers.

I agree. When faced with a poor review, rather than pull an Anne Rice or give into the temptation of confrontation, an author’s best recourse is to steer clear and just keep walking.


14 thoughts on “When Authors Pull an Anne Rice

  1. Well said. I’ve had reviews where the reviewer missed something or didn’t understand the scene and slammed me for it. As much as I’d like to ask them for specifics or to point out what they missed I “keep walking”. It’s hard, but what good does a confrontation do? Either readers like it, or they don’t. It’s really that simple in my mind.

  2. Dina,
    Thanks for highlighting this. I agree with you about shrugging your shoulders. Interestingly, I’ve been asked to write a guest post about reviews – by a reviewer who gave my book only a lukewarm review! While most of my reviews have been positive, I do understand they won’t all be. Reviewing is subjective by nature.

    • Hey, Kellie! How interesting! I would love to know how this review opportunity came about. Did the reader write a lukewarn review and then ask you to respond with a post? Like a rebuttal?

      • Actually, I had contacted the blogger about doing a review and/or guest post and she agreed. She picked the topic for the guest post – reviews. However, since then, she posted her review and it was just okay. While no author would love that, I understand and don’t begrudge her right to her opinion. My guest post isn’t due to her until later this month. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll pull an Anne Rice…

  3. While I completely agree with you and don’t worry about reviews because they are someone’s opinion – nothing more or less – I also agree with AR’s point about there being consequences to things we write. I have a bit of an issue with reviewers (hell, any blogger) who blasts things/people like an internet drive-by and is then shocked when there are repercussions. Yes, most of us on the interwebs are nothing more than strangers, but I wouldn’t run up to a random guy on the street, shout vitriol at him, and run off again. So, yes…I wouldn’t comment on a bad review, but I think some people need to think about how they say things rather than what they are saying, and perhaps think “would I be able to look that person in the eye and say this?”

    • Sabrynne, you are right. Many people “hide” behind their gravatars or use the anonymity of the internet to say terrible and hateful things. The thing is, though — and this is just how I feel — I can’t control what others do. I can only control how I respond. And if that other person is saying god-awful things already, my response will probably just add fuel to the fire, and there’s nothing to be gained from that. Most likely, you’ll come away burned.

  4. Very wise advice; I completely agree, Dina. (As you know) I just launched my book, I haven’t had any experience to speak of w/ good or bad reviews, I can just say my plan is to not say anything. I know every book cannot be for every person, and I’m okay with that. Great post!

  5. I agree with you Dina. No comment is the right thing to do even when it is not even a real review. I have been thanking those that leave decent reviews. I’ve actually made a few friends that way.

  6. I kinda disagree, I love to discuss things and I think I demonstrate that in the comments. I also believe most bloggers would love to have an in depth discussion with the author, just because they don’t like the book doesn’t mean they don’t like YOU. It’s easy to make connections with fans but why avoid a critical opinion? Doesn’t it make you a stronger author? The thing that upset me most about Anne Rice’s approach was she never spoke to me one-on-one. Not once. It was all behind the veil of her fans and surely if you can’t comment on a perfectly civil review then you’re already starting to cocoon yourself? It was so hard for me to respond fairly to some of those comments, not put on my righteous indignation pants (“How DARE they think my opinion is wrong??”) and I ended up learning a lot. Not trying to mock your opinion, truly, I just think the best thing about this incident was learning how to give up pride and take it on the chin. We’re all people :)

    • Miss Articulate! First of all, let me say, welcome! And it’s a pleasure to have you here. What’s interesting, too, is that I don’t necessarily disagree with you. I’m not saying authors should cocoon themselves or not interact with fans. I interact all the time! You are right. I’ve learned a great deal from the opinions of my readers. One of my favorite things to do is to go to book clubs and chat with readers about BABY GRAND. But to me, that’s different from, say, a random person walking down the street, seeing me, and yelling, “Hey, your book sucked.” Some people don’t want to interact or have a civil discussion. They want to incite. Or maybe they just want to vent. And it is for those situations that I say, as an author, that you should just keep walking. Plus, reading is so subjective. Gosh, if someone didn’t like my book, I feel like that has to be okay with me. It’s like someone not liking my outfit. It’s just not for them. I’ll give you an example: Sometimes when I visit with readers, I’ll have someone tell me that she didn’t like the profanity in BABY GRAND and for that reason didn’t like the book. Now, that’s a perfectly valid reason for that person. I disagree, of course, but I still appreciate her honesty and her opinion. Other than that, I feel like there’s really nothing else to discuss. We all bring our experiences, our mores, to a book. I find it interesting, too, that you were upset that Anne Rice didn’t approach you directly. I think the argument can be made that you didn’t approach HER directly either to begin with. In a way, you were that person walking down the street and yelling, “Hey, your book sucked, and by the way I cut it up for my project!” How can an author respond to that? I still think the best way is to “give up pride and take it on the chin,” as you said, and just keep walking. Make sense? Gosh, I’m so glad you stopped by! You’ve got me thinking early this morning. :)

      • Very true points about random flamers. It wouldn’t be appropriate to respond to someone spewing hate, that much is clear. I also have to agree that I didn’t reach out to Anne Rice but I was flabbergasted that she even noticed me!

        I work in marketing and I’ve given what happened a long and considered thought. Anne Rice is a well-known author and I didn’t read one of her well-known and favoured books, which I didn’t do on purpose but just happened. Instead of promoting my negative review, what she could have done in her situation would have been to make contact and offer a copy of a more well reviewed book. Then, even if I’d hated that book in another review, I would have probably praised Anne herself for sending it to me. Even if I didn’t, she could have promoted THAT and she would have looked amazingly generous and I’d look like a brat (if this had actually happened, I know I would have praised her on a personal level). Win-win in terms of marketing.

        Of course, as I’ve already said she’s something of a special case due to her fame and wide range of books. For a writer with less klout and a smaller fanbase, this has more dangers (what if they never reply? What if they don’t do the review? Is there any benefit to me sharing? etc.) so your approach might be best. As you said, if someone doesn’t like the language of a book then what can the writer do?

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