In 2007 I published a book titled Republic. And then, in early 2008, I started working on drafts for its sequel, titled Insurgent. I put out some podcast, posted chapters here on the blog, but then due to life (and loss of job) I stalled out for a few years. In 2011 I got back to it, starting with the release of the first of six “episodes” — short novellas — in December 2011.
A few months after that, a woman named Veronica Roth published a book called Insurgent. But I looked at it and figured it wasn’t a problem. Her book was young adult. Mine wasn’t. Totally different genre and audience. And everything was fine. Insurgent wasn’t making a lot of money, but it did okay.
But then, there was this movie, based off the first book in Veronica Roth’s trilogy, Divergent. After that came out, there was a noticeable uptick in my sales. Not huge, but did see maybe 10% more sales than I had been.
But then came the reviews. The reviews of her book, posted on mine. And the really bad ones, where people penalize my book with a 1 start review because they didn’t read the book description.
What heroine was that? It might have been Rebecca Mays? Or Valerie Murphy? Or Karen Greenfield? Those were the three most prominent female characters in the novel, none of whom spent the entire book running to or away from danger. This is a review of the wrong book.
Oh and here’s one:
Wrong book again. And apparently it’s my book’s fault you ordered the wrong book and had to return it.
The first movie! Eureka!
Believe it or not, Republic was optioned for a movie, though it never got any funding and never went anywhere. There was no first movie for this reader to watch.
Before you think I’m just whining, let me make it clear. Every author gets one star reviews. I’ve been called an idiot in some reviews. I’ve received reviews which said things like “this wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read.” But those are peppered in with what are now thousands of reviews of my overall body of work which show people a broad range of opinions.
But except for my first, no work of mine has a large proportion of one and two star reviews on Amazon. And here’s the rub. It’s a fact that reviews effect sales. Amazon pushes books to the top of searches which have a higher star ranking. Yes, readers can look at these reviews and conclude that the reviewers didn’t know what they were doing. But that’s only if they see the book in search or in recommendations in the first place, which they won’t if I keep getting these reviews.
What do I do? Do I change the title of my book? I’d published sections of Insurgent here on the blog years before Veronica Roth published her trilogy. And titles can’t be copyrighted, so there’s no legal issue. But as it stands, when Veronica Roth’s next movie — Insurgent — is released, I’m going to get creamed.
I’m seriously debating a change in title. But that has drawbacks too, significant ones. What are you thoughts?