Star ratings and how to use them

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Star ratings and how to use them

Post by SRHowen on Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:31 pm

Okay, so you got 2 three star reviews, and one 5 and one 4. Most reviewers see 3 as the default review rating, it was a good read and they'd read more from this author. I know we all get caught up in the I need 5 stars or at the least 4!

3 is an average good book, 4 above, 5 exceptional. Amazon does promo books that receive 30 or more reviews. (I'm told they will put it up for review by their own reviewers as a potential best seller once it reaches 30 reviews, good bad or ugly) Many readers won't read a book that doesn't have at least 20 reviews. This is how Amazon defines, suggests readers use the star ratings, it might help you feel less bad about the 3 star reviews.

Five stars: Books that are the absolute pinnacle of their genres. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these to anyone who enjoys good writing. I was deeply moved by the book in some way, and will always want to retain a copy on my shelf. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are five-star books, as is Consider Phlebas.

Four stars: The book impressed me. If it was a good fit to my tastes, I'll definitely look for more work by this author in the future. On the other hand, if it's just not my cup of tea, but amazingly well written, I may give it four stars even if I'll never seek the author out again.

Three stars: Any book that's worthwhile. I enjoyed reading it and might read another in the series or by the author at some point, though I wouldn't be in a rush to do so. Alternatively, I might have thought the book had a number of great points, but also some severe flaws, like a really idiotic ending that spoiled hundreds of pages of solid writing. Guilty pleasures are generally three-star books for me (a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs), along with childhood favorites that haven't aged all that well (Andre Norton's juveniles).

Two stars: The book left me cold. It either failed to entertain me, or was mildly entertaining but dropped the ball in some crucial fashion, like killing off the only interesting character three-quarters of the way in.

One star: I actively disliked the book and felt it had almost no redeeming qualities. In rare cases, I might have found some objectively good elements in the book, but its principal theme or message may have been morally repugnant to me.

So a 3 star review is not a bad review by any means. I have a few myself.
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Re: Star ratings and how to use them

Post by lindabarlow on Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:40 am

Thanks....as someone who is new to the group, I found this to be a very useful post!

Edit: I've posted more thoughts on this subject below.


Last edited by lindabarlow on Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Star ratings and how to use them

Post by Margaret Tanner on Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:43 am

I agree with Linda,
Very informative and helpful.

regards

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Re: Star ratings and how to use them

Post by lindabarlow on Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:32 pm

I've been thinking about the stars thing, and I've decided to describe what my own rating system is. All reviewers are different, I'm sure. Amazon reviews tend to result in higher numbers of stars than, say, Goodreads, where a 5 star review is uncommon. On Amazon, though, 5 star reviews are not unusual at all.

It's also important, I think, to remember that one of the reasons many of us want to get at least 4 or 5 stars is that many marketing opportunities (BookBub, ENT, POI etc.) require a certain number of reviews, and they also require that the average be at least 4 stars. Therefore, it's not very useful to join a review group if one doesn't attain an average of 4 stars.

Obviously not all books are deserving of 4 stars. Many, in fact, aren't. But here's how I roll, personally:

5 stars go to books that I really enjoy and consider "keepers." I have a house filled with books, so I have kept many. Although I might like to hold all 5 star reviews to the high standards of, say, a Dorothy Dunnett or Jane Austen review, in practice I have given 5 star reviews to books that I did not think were perfect. If I really enjoyed them while reading, didn't encounter anything that I considered even a minor flaw, and felt a strong urge to pick them up again once I had laid them down, then I have probably given the book 5 stars.

I'll give 4 stars to most books that I liked well enough to finish. They might have minor flaws, but nothing that distracted me from reading. If the book gives me pleasure and is well written, even if I don't consider it one of the greatest delights of my reading life, it'll probably get 4 stars.  (I've rated over 500 books on Goodreads; probably the rating with the greatest frequency from me would be a 4. OTOH, I've mostly rated books I remember well and liked).

A 3 star book is one that I didn't really care for.  It had flaws that bugged me. Maybe I considered it not particularly well written in some respects. Maybe I had to force myself to finish it. (If it really sucked, I wouldn't finish it at all, but in that case I wouldn't review it either). I don't give out anywhere near as many 3 star reviews as 4 or 5s because it's not worth my time to read books I don't enjoy.

I don't give 2 or 1 star, at least not on Amazon (I do on Goodreads). If I didn't like the book enough to give it at least a 3 star rating, then I don't feel it's up to me to slam the author by posting a bad review. I will just make sure not to ever read one of his or her books again.

I'm well aware that other folks have different standards. But these are mine.


Last edited by lindabarlow on Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:49 am; edited 5 times in total (Reason for editing : Typo.)
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Re: Star ratings and how to use them

Post by DavidAndrews on Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:31 pm

I remember an early writing class I attended, run by an award winning multi-genre author. At one point we were asked to share our efforts with the class and I stood up to make some opening remarks about mine. He stopped me cold by asking me did I intend to accompany every book of mine that was sold and explain it to the reader.
I respect everyone's right to have their own standards and certainly clarify my reactions to the book within my reviews while still adhering to the published rating standards within the site where the review is published.
Our reviews are supposed to be honest and made by knowledgeable peers. If we wanted it otherwise, we wouldn't be banning reciprocal reviews.
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Re: Star ratings and how to use them

Post by SRHowen on Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:35 pm

Exactly, the rating system is 1 to 5, not 3 to 5. You don't get to explain, BTW, in my reviews 3 is at the bottom. Just like in our writing we don't get to explain to the reader, but my MC did that because, or I said it that way because . . . Reviews need to be rated in a way that readers expect.

I got a review on a site once, a blog, where she wrote a glowing review, then said it was 2 birdies. affraid  I then noticed a little box on the side that explained her 1 to 3 rating system. Had she posted that review on Amazon, readers would look at it as a bad review, since it was a 2.

The standard I posted doesn't say give books at 3, it says 3 is a good book with redeeming qualities, 3 is the base line, and then you add or subtract things from there based on the book. That is subjective. One person may love a ton of adjectives while another screams purple prose.

This group functions on the idea that the reviews are going to be honest, and professional, and be reviewed on a 1 to 5 star system that is the standard. If that means a book is a 2, then it's a 2, if that means a book is a 5, then it is. That is why we don't review who reviews us. A person could say, okay every book I read starts at a 5 and I subtract from there . . . as long as the system is 1 to 6, then do it how you want, but it does need to be the standard system.


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Re: Star ratings and how to use them

Post by lindabarlow on Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:26 pm

I don't think you and I really disagree too much, Shawn, except that I will give a 5 star review to some books that I didn't love quite as much as Lord of the Rings Smile Or my own particular favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice.

I am NOT using a 1-3 tier system except in the reviews that I actually *post.* There are many books, of course, that would score lower on my rating system than a 3, particularly in this age of self-publishing. But, correct me if I'm wrong, if we get a book assigned to us that we'd rate below 3 stars, we're not supposed to post it, right? We're supposed to contact the author first and inquire if they want it posted? Doesn't that imply that a 3 is in fact our low, for the purpose of actually publishing reviews?

Amazon is not as specific about what the 1-5 numbers mean as Goodreads is. Amazon leaves it quite vague, and up to people's individual judgment. But if you relate it to other similar systems, such as the 5 tier academic A-F, where C is considered average, I think most of us would agree that a C is a disappointing grade. And, by the way, I don't feel that giving 4s (or Bs) to well-written books I've enjoyed and (3s or Cs) to books I considered flawed in some way is dishonest or unprofessional in any respect.


Last edited by lindabarlow on Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:44 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
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Re: Star ratings and how to use them

Post by SRHowen on Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:44 am

No one wants to feel that their book was trashed. Thus, the ask if it is below 3 stars. It is by no means an indicator that the lowest rating is a 3. It's a courtesy. to the authors in the group. As any of us who have been around for awhile in publishing, that first book, most of us are in love with, it is our baby, until we reach the point that where we see it for what it is, a profession, and the book is the product.

The star rating is from Amazon, it is from one of Amazon's reviewers. If you've seen the books that have a review from Amazon's own reviewers, not just a reviewer on Amazon, I contacted one of them and asked, so what do the stars mean, and that was what I was given.

There needs to be a standard, as you can't explain your review to someone who may see it.

And the goal of the Teams is not to sink anyones book. If it's less than 3, then better it's not posted than to sink someone's baby. But the review is given to the author, so they still see it.

It would be easy to say, hey, let's make a group where everyone gives everyone 4 or 5 stars! A group of authors did that on Amazon. I believe they came over from Goodreads, and poof, Amazon had to create new rules for reviews, it got so bad in India, that anyone from India can't even post a review.

If a book is a two, would you then give it a 3 to be able to post it? That's the question. I shudder to give any book a TWO, but I have. It doesn't help any author to, esp self published ones, get a 3 star review that was really a 2 or a 1. And Indie published authors, shame on their publisher if they are getting 2 and 1 star reviews!

So saying don't post lower than a 3 is just that, don't post it without the author's permission. It doesn't say, it must be a 3.


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Review Stars Below a 3

Post by CarolMalone on Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:44 pm

I was told in a writing conference that we never give below a 3 in the off chance we might be meeting that author in the near future and wouldn't want to embarrass ourselves. This was especially true of posts to Goodreads where librarians are the caretakers and can blacklist you for negative reviews.

Just sayin'.

I'm excited about the group and can't wait to get going. What is the next step?

Carol:roll: 
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Re: Star ratings and how to use them

Post by SRHowen on Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:50 pm

Which is why we ask the author if they want a review below 3 stars posted.

Onward if we cna just get everyone moved!

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