(This is the first in a series of posts leading up to the publication of the Kindle Serial, Z 2135 on August 27. There will be no spoilers here. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or email me. Please avoid leaving spoilers for Z 2134 in the comments.)
In Z 2134, we set forth with a simple notion, to create a pulp mash-up of The Walking Dead meets The Hunger Games.
Good escapist fun!
The book marked a few firsts for Sean and I.
It was our first traditionally published book (through 47North), and our first number 1 horror book on Amazon. It was also our first serial through Amazon’s new Kindle Serials program.
While we’d written four other series before Z, this was the first time writing a serial where the book automatically updated, and readers only had to buy one book.
It was an awesome experience!
But with success, comes even more criticism, and haters.
While a lot of our regular readers, and even new ones loved the book, we also got raked over the coals … hard.
Of course, we were doing something rather audacious: comparing ourselves to two VERY popular series which are still in the public zeitgeist.
We were practically begging people to hate us, before they even read us.
In fact, in a lot (not all) of the worst reviews, it is clear that the reviewer didn’t even read much of the book, if any. They were hating on something just because it was popular and it offended them that we’d mash up these two worlds. Something we freely copped to in the product description and the authors’ notes.
We weren’t claiming that this was a staggering work of artistic genius. It was a fun book we wanted to write, mashing up several of our inspirations, and adding our own brand of scares.
But judging from some of the reviews, you’d think we took a shit on The Bible whilst burning flags.
Critics (and haters) accused us of ripping off The Hunger Games, even though we a) freely admitted to what we ripped off (the beginning dash for weapons) and b) If you got more than a few chapters into Z, though, you’d know the book actually mines very little from either The Hunger Games or The Walking Dead.
Hell, some people said we weren’t enough like The Walking Dead!
Bad reviews and haters attack even the best of books… books waaaaay better than ours. There is no single book out there with universal appeal. Hell, Suzanne Collins got tons of shit for “ripping off” Battle Royale.
I didn’t see Battle Royale, so I can’t make that judgment.
My point is that when people like Suzanne Collins and Stephen King have haters who say they suck, even though they clearly don’t, we have to realize that we can’t please everyone.
At some point, you have to say:
Fuck the haters.
And focus on the people that love what you do.
That’s not to say we’re going to ignore criticisms, though. Or simply write every bad review off as something without merit from some troll looking to get a rise out of us.
Z 2134 is the most divisive book we’ve written.
It has 14 one star reviews (at this moment).
It has 15 two star reviews.
As a writer, seeing so many one and twos feels like a punch in the nuts.
But, as friends point out, Z 2134 also has 92 five star reviews and 52 four star reviews. So at least a few people loved it!
For the most part, I dismiss a bulk of the one and two star reviews, as they are from people who were ready to hate the book, anyway.
But every now and then there is a critical review that truly gets under my skin. And that’s…
WHEN THE REVIEWERS ARE RIGHT
Generally, I believe, that all (non troll) reviewers are right.
If someone read the book and didn’t like it, then that’s all there is to it.
You can’t argue taste or subjective opinion. We all like different things, and we’re not right or wrong in our tastes. We either agree or disagree — that’s it.
But then there’s the people who want to like the book, but are bothered by its faults.
Some of the faults in the first season include:
- the zombies aren’t a unique threat. They could have just as easily been werewolves! They were simply monsters to avoid.
- not much world building.
- could use more editing
I agree with all of these critiques.
Unfortunately, you don’t get second shots at first impressions.
So the best we can do moving forward is learn from our stumbles, and make the follow-up, Z 2135, as awesome as we can.
So when Sean and I sat down to story plan Season Two (or Z 2135), we had two goals.
1) To give the readers who loved the first season a story that would top the first.
2) To prove the critics wrong, and stumble less in our second season.
I’ll delve into some of the details tomorrow, and show you how we approached this season.
As always, thank you for reading,
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below (without spoilers, please).
I LOVE the second season of Z. Can’t wait to hear what you guys think!
That was just depressing and sad as crap. Until I remembered that I LOVED the story and could…as you say “Fuck the Haters”. WE, the ones who loved it, have the power! We can spread the good word around and besides, do the math….more people loved it than not. Winner in my mind! Can’t wait to read the next “Z” (and how could I put spoilers here if I haven’t read it yet?). Just don’t take the bad reviews to heart, use their criticism constructively, but remember, they are mostly sub-standard humans who can’t recognize something good when they see it. And in another famous person’s words…”it’s all beer-battered bullshit!”.
Thanks for the kind words. As for the spoilers, I meant for Z 2134. I should probably clarify. 🙂
Fortunately, I have the ever optimistic Sean to guide me through the negative, otherwise, I’d probably have been on a bridge long ago.
As someone who’s first book has 18 one star reviews, and i4 two stars on Amazon, I totally get where this blog post is coming from. The first few bad reviews did hit hard. All the five star reviews in the world couldn’t take away the sting from the bad ones. To combat the sting I started looking at my favorite books, and discovered that everyone of them had horrible reviews, lots of horrible reviews. What I’d loved about the book, other people hated. That simple exercise put things in perspective for me. You couldn’t please everyone, and tastes are incredibly subjective.
After a while, like you– the only reviews that truly bothered me, were the ones were I knew the reviewers were right. These reviewers weren’t criticizing me or my voice, or my plot, or some element that pushed their hot buttons. In fact, most the time they had liked parts of the book, they’d just wanted to like it better. These reviewers were the ones who pointed out where I’d goofed. Where I could have made the book better if I’d done what the reviewer suggested. (btw- several of those reviewers are now my Beta readers! 🙂
But you know what, I made the book as good as I possibly could before I released it. At that point, I couldn’t have made it any better. So I accepted the fact I’m not perfect and I took note of the criticism and promised myself I’d never make that particular mistake again. That’s really all we can do, accept our failing and move on and make sure we don’t make the same mistake again.
Thanks, Trish! Good to know we’re not alone in self-defeating thoughts, and finding our way past them.
Is there going to be a third book Please say yes.
Yes, and the first episode will be out on April 15th in the US. Six weeks after (I think) in other countries. It is a Kindle Serial, which means you only need to buy it once and it auto updates. This is the final book in the trilogy, and we go out with an awesome six episodes!