Okay, the first five Amazon readers reviews for Ferocious have been posted, so I can relax.
This is not a “Oh, God, what if everybody hates it? What if everybody hates it???” sort of thing. Forty books in, I can be reasonably confident that readers who would buy a novel with a zombie grizzly bear on the cover are–in general–going to enjoy this one. If Amazon stockpiled the first twenty or so reviews and posted them all at once, I’d be comfortable with the idea that, overall, they’d have positive things to say about all of the wild chainsaw action.
But one thing I know for certain: some people will read Ferocious and think “Wow, what a piece of rancid garbage!” I know this because EVERY book that is read by more than the author’s friends and family has somebody who hates it. One-star reviews (and no, they aren’t all by vengeful trolls) are part of the business. I’m ready for them. Hell, I frequently post them on social media.
I just don’t want them to be among the first few.
Everything Has Teeth received very good reader reviews, but the very first reaction was a one-star review suggesting that it wasn’t even worth the effort to click the button to download it. Which meant that suddenly my AVERAGE review was one-star.
Some people don’t care about reviews. Some people do. When a potential customer clicks on the Everything Has Teeth listing and sees that the average rating is one measly star out of five…well, that doesn’t necessarily destroy sales momentum, but it certainly throws a speed bump out there.
Several of my books have had the worst reaction right up front. The first trade magazine review of A Bad Day For Voodoo--my debut book with Sourcebooks–called it “profoundly stupid.” The book would go on to earn many rave reviews, but I assure you, when you’re with a new publisher and you hope to have a long relationship with them and your publicist forwards you the very first review and it says that your book suuuuucks, it’s awkward.
The first review of Mandibles was, essentially, “I don’t get it. Is this book supposed to be funny? Is it supposed to be scary? What did I just read?”
A reviewer who went absolutely nuts over my first couple of books let me know that he didn’t much enjoy Out of Whack, and offered not to post the review on his website. I said, “No, no, post your honest opinion.” I figured his review was going to call the book a disappointment in comparison to my other work, but it remains one of the most savage, vicious, brutal critical beatdowns I’ve ever received! That dude did NOT enjoy Out of Whack.
Somebody with an advance reading copy of Stranger Things Have Happened hated the book and posted a terrible review several months before it came out. And then she kept re-posting the link to the review, tagging me on Twitter. Again and again and again. Gaaahhh.
It always ends up evening out, but I prefer the “Die, book, die!” reactions to appear a bit later in the process. I figure, once I’ve got five good Amazon reviews, a negative one can’t do as much damage to the average rating, so I visit the listing of a new book very, very, very frequently.
Ferocious made it through. Whew.