Maybe in 2007 or so, after I realized that an old negative online review from “Randolph Calverhall,” was actually written by a pseudonym for the deceased and notorious neo-Nazi/white supremacist William Pierce, I undertook a project to look at online reviews of books by women authors to see if this was “just me” or some other force at work. I coincidentally looked first at books by Octavia Butler, noticing that she had a number of anonymous, “drive-by” reviews by people who’d obviously not read her work and who were more motivated to slag a female author just for the fun of it … with extra bonus points because she was black.
Then I looked at the work of Ralph Wiley, one of my favorite writers, an African-American sports and culture writer who had passed away. Ralph, unable to defend himself, had racist reviews from anonymous jerks slagging on a dead guy. Then Toni Morrison. I kept going. There was hardly a female writer who was writing outside of the “traditional”/ok for women topics like romance, relationships, cooking, beauty and fitness, who didn’t have at least one of these types of reviews. African-American? Phew – these appeared to be organized, sophisticated, and in the case of authors like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker who are assigned in school — aimed at convincing kids not to read their books.
I thought “at least I write mostly short fiction” so I don’t have to worry about this type of thing. I figured “Randolph” was a coincidence, attracted potentially because my first novel featured a concentration-camp type scenario (except … the camps weren’t presented favorably, nor were the eugenics plans of the book’s villain). So this a.m., I looked at Alan Rodgers’ Amazon author page because Alan’s brother Scott is now maintaining and working on it. To help Scott out with his questions, I looked at my own author page. And lo and behold!
On the Audible page of Female Science Fiction Writer I see this gem:
Gee whiz, I’m sure they listened to the audiobook. Gee willickers.
And by cracky, yes I am self-indulgent, Amazon Customer. I just ate a whole bowl of organic chocolate pudding made with almond milk. Mmmm-mmmm.
Like Amazon Customer bought it? Oh, so sure he/she did (not).
Here’s the thing. This is somewhat organized. And apparently, acceptable.
So yes, Amazon customer, I am self-indulgent. Despite your allegations, however, not “mediocre.”
The only way to write well is to be self-indulgent. That is a lesson many women find to be very difficult, as we spend our whole lives serving others.