(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).