The Embers of Light Blog tour is happening now and I wanted to share the three guest posts I wrote for the tour.
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In a recent interview with international bestselling author Anne Rice, Nola Cancel asked Ms. Rice about negative reviews and their impact on indie-authors.
Ms. Rice’s response…
Indie authors today need to be aware of what they’re facing. The internet has changed reviewing. A person ten years ago might have said, “I enjoyed the book, but not all that much. I don’t know why. But I’ll try the author again if he writes another. “Today that person goes on line and says, “I am giving this book one star because I feel plotting and characterization was poor, and I did not like the characters, I felt the heroine was a ‘Mary Sue’ and I can’t stand that kind of character, and there was too much description, and I found a typo on page 263 etc.” Does this help the author? Probably not at all. Does it help other customers? Very likely no, because for all its “details,” it’s entirely subjective and not particularly expressive of why the reader didn’t have a good time with the book. So indie authors have to keep a cool head with the new internet hobbyist criticism. Just realize that the book didn’t do what you wanted it to do for that reader, and move on.
This answer has given me an entirely new perspective on negative reviews. Any author who’s had one knows how frustrating (and disheartening) a negative review can be. We read the 1 and 2 star reviews and cringe, want to cry, and feel like the reviewer is attacking us personally.
But the truth is, reviews now-a-days are completely subjective. Most of the negative reviews I read online, when broken down to basics, simply say that the book wasn’t their taste. It makes perfect sense, especially when a certain book has an abundance of rave reviews amidst the few negative ones.
Just because I hated Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. The literary world says it’s a classic! But it simply wasn’t for me.
I’m going to remember this the next time I read or receive a bad review. Is the reviewer really saying the book is terrible, are they saying I have no talent, or are they simply stating that the book wasn’t for them?
I’ll also have to remember this the next time I review a book. I never really write negative reviews, but if I don’t like a particular book, I’ll make sure to ask myself why I didn’t like it, before throwing my subjective two cents out there.
Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am a huge fan of Anne Rice. I have been since I was 12 years old when my mom gave me a copy of Blood and Gold for Christmas (not necessarily age appropriate, I know, but my mom didn’t, thank goodness). Had it not been for that gift, I may have never had the inclination to write, or pursue writing professionally. This is the impact one author can have on a person. How incredible is that?
The first time I read Blood and Gold I was mesmerized by it. I instantly fell in love with the way the book was written, the worlds it transported me to, and the characters it brought to life. Marius was and always will be my favorite character, and I still read this book at least once a year. I felt a connection to the characters that no other book had given me before, and a fascination with history that persists to this day. While I may have been interested in history and the craft of writing before this book entered my life, it was only after I read it that my fate was sealed.
What amazes me, however, is that not everyone has felt the same. A quick look at Anne Rice’s Wikipedia will tell you that even talented authors like Mrs. Rice have faced self-doubt and opposition. I still find this hard to believe. How can anyone pick up any of Mrs. Rice’s books and not instantly fall in love? How can anyone bemoan the style of her prose or the construction of her stories? Are they blind?
According to Wikipedia, “following its debut in 1976, Interview with the Vampire received many negative reviews from critics, causing Rice to retreat temporarily from the supernatural genre.”
Whether this statement is true or not, it’s hard to imagine that such a remarkable novel could receive such polarizing reviews. Thank goodness she didn’t listen to her critics; otherwise we would have never known Lestat, or Armand, or Pandora, or Marius, or David, or Vittorio, or any of the other characters that she has brought to life.
On numerous occasions I’ve seen Mrs.Rice post on her facebook page words of encouragement to aspiring authors. She tells them not to give up, to ignore critics, and to do what they love. Once I was fortunate enough to receive an email response from Mrs.Rice regarding my own journey with writing. It read:
“I wish you every conceivable blessing with your writing. You know, I’m sure that this life is worth the courage and the nerve it takes, the sheer nerve it takes to be a writer. I hope all goes well with you. We have to forgive those who try to discourage us. They are mostly talking about themselves and their own fears and limitations when they tell us we can’t do what we want to do. Take care, and thank you again, Anne Rice”.
I read and reread that email every time I feel down and insecure about my writing. If an amazing, talented writer like Anne Rice must face criticism and opposition, then so must we all. There is no way around it. It’s part of being a writer. Sometimes I need to take a moment and remember that in order to keep pushing forward.
If Anne Rice had never written her novels, or had given up writing after Interview with the Vampire, I’m not so certain I would be as inspired and determined to write as I am today. Maybe I would have given up when someone told me writing was a waste of time, or that I have no talent. It’s amazing how influential authors can truly be to those that wish to follow in their footsteps. I think that’s something all writers need to remember when they feel like giving up. You might be the one to inspire another.
After all, where would I be if Anne Rice had never written…