Deep In The Amazon
This is what happened. I wrote a book, submitted it to several publishers, and got rejected. I wrote another book, found a New York agent and a New York publisher. Within a week I had sold the film rights to 20th Century Fox, quit my job, and settled into what felt like an extended dream world, one in which I was able to go to sleep and wake up without the scenery changing. This is it, I thought, my beginning of a writer's life. I bought a new car and each time I went outside I expected to find it gone, with a note that read Terrible Mistake Now Rectified.
Several weeks before my actual publication date, a friend informs me that my book is listed on Amazon.com. Already? I said, the faintest suggestion of coy surprise in my voice. I attempt to sound casual but inside I am hula dancing naked with George Clooney and he is saying Baby I didn't know you were a writer.
After a period of insensate glee at my book simply being for sale on the Internet, the first Amazon customer review is posted. Five stars, from my mother, cleverly disguised as A Reader. "Suzanne Finnamore is the spokeswoman for our time." A couple more people write reviews, either four or five stars. In a quasar of accolade, my Amazon sales rank number soars from 1,439,003 to 707. I begin thinking about a new house, something with an extra bathroom and a pool. I am touring French country cottages in my mind. Aix is awfully nice.
Then it happens. My first bad Amazon customer review. As in tornadoes, there is no warning. One star. A Reader From DC wishes I would catapult myself from a tall building. Then I should be chopped into tiny pieces, like a vampire -- pieces that are then mailed separately to diffferent continents, so that I won't reconstitute myself and start looking for a pencil.
I cry for an hour: Why me? Why?
I then call ten friends and insist they write Amazon reviews. Five stars, I mumble, I need five.
But I haven't read it yet, some of them say.
It doesn't matter, I reply.
They laugh, not realizing I am serious.
Eventually the good-friend reviews are posted, knocking mister one star off the top. Then a Reader From New York writes an even worse review -- for some reason giving me two stars. He loathes my writing, my characters, my plot and my publisher; it is the grand slam of reviews. What would merit one star to this person, I muse. A grease trap?