Anne Rice, among others, is calling for Amazon reviewers to be forced to give their real identities. ‘The Interview with the Vampire author is a signatory to a new petition calling on Amazon to remove anonymity from its reviewers in order to prevent the “bullying and harassment” it says is rife on the site,’ says The Guardian.
There’s no point going into the stupidity of this because it won’t happen. It would cause the number of Amazon reviews to drop like a rock (silencing not just those who don’t want to be harassed, but also anyone who doesn’t want their parents, partner or potential employer to see what they’re reading), and if there’s one thing Amazon likes other than gouging for gigantic discounts and exploiting workers, it’s onsite reviews. So that’s not what I want to talk about here. What I’m baffled by is…
Anne Rice reads her Amazon reviews and gets upset by them.
Think about that for a moment. Anne Rice, who bestrode 1980s fiction like a colossus, with estimated global sales of 100 million copies, a movie with Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas and Christian Slater, a career spanning over 35 years – Anne Rice reads her Amazon reviews and gets upset by them.
I can’t italicize this enough. Anne Rice, who presumably has enough in the bank to spend the rest of her life on holiday, instead hunches over her computer and reads Amazon reviews. And gets upset. And encourages her own fans to attack negative reviews, because she cares that someone called HissingSid32 says stuff like:
I didn’t like this book because it was boring. That’s all that needs to be said. It was very very very very very very very very very very very boring. If you have to read this book shoot yourself first.
Oh, sorry, that’s not an Amazon review of Anne Rice, it’s of Anne Frank. That was what someone posted about Diary of a Young Girl.
Here are some other Amazon reviews:
I actually found it impossible to like or even dislike any character in this story. Everyone is quite boring, 1-dimensional, and stale. The result: an 800 page “masterpiece” about characters that are impossible to care about. (Anna Karenina)
I hated having reasonably high expectations for a so-called classic, only to have to suffer through a drab chain of non sequitur events, thoroughly lacking any explanations at all. (1984)
A great read if you suffer from attention deficit disorder, as the author must. That, or you’re a crackhead. Skips from one scene to another with no transitions, and no unity in plot. A disaster. (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
Amazon reviews for the best books you can think of all include this sort of genius. Go on, try it yourself, find me one single acknowledged masterpiece on Amazon.com without a one-star review. And it’s worth noting that these books have managed to struggle on, somehow, despite HissingSid32’s opinion. Anne Rice evidently feels her position is less secure.
Of course Ms Rice says she doesn’t want to stifle negative reviews or critical comment. She only want to silence the “gangster bullies” who the petition’s creator acknowledges are a “tiny minority” of Amazon users. But even if we take this at face value, she wants everyone to have to identify themselves publicly if they are to comment on a book, because of a handful of trolls who – and I can’t stress this enough – she chooses to read and to engage with in the first place.
The very definition of using a sledgehammer to crack some nuts.
In the hope of resolving this problem, I present a handy flowchart.
How Authors Should Deal with Negative Amazon Reviews
KJ Charles doesn’t read Amazon/Goodreads reviews or harass reviewers, so say what you like about Remnant, a free story written with Jordan L Hawk and coming out 11 March!