After writing three series, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon with respect to reviews: later books in a series get better reviews than the first book.
Here are the average star rankings on Amazon for my three series:
Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance Series
- Stranded with the Cyborg – 4.2
- Mated with the Cyborg – 4.5
- Captured by the Cyborg – 4.6
- Trapped with the Cyborg – 4.5
- Claimed by the Cyborg – 4.6
Rod and Cane Society Series
- Unexpected Consequences – 3.7
- False Pretenses – 4.4
- Body Politics 4.4
- Disciplinary Measures – 4.0
- Reasonable Doubts – 4.6
- Irresistible Attractions – 4.6
The first book of each series ranks lower than the other books in the series.
You could argue that as the series progressed, the writing and/or the stories got better. With Unexpected Consequences (Rod and Cane 1), that might be true. Unexpected Consequences was one of the first romances I ever wrote, my third to be exact. I would like to think that after seven years and thirty more books, I’ve improved.
But I don’t think that argument applies to the Breeder series, which many consider to be my best work. The quality of the writing and the story is consistent across all three books. Nor do I think it applies to the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series, although the later books are longer than the first book, and I think readers like that.
My theory is that first books are read by a more general audience, by readers who happen across the book and decide to give it a try. Some readers will like it, others won’t. The ones who like the first book go on to read the other books in the series. The one who don’t, don’t buy any more of the series.
So reviews of first books are written by a more general audience; reviews of later books are written by fans of the series, people who are predisposed to liking it.
What do you think? Have you noticed this trend with your books?