Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Goodreads Ratings (A Public Service Announcement)

Imagine for a moment that you've put your blood, sweat, and tears into one project for hundreds of hours because it's your lifelong passion, and you're so invested in this thing that you can't sleep at night or focus on daily tasks because ideas are whispered into your ear 24/7. Imagine that you've decided to make this passion your career, and hope it will feed your family and maybe keep a roof over your head. You invest over a thousand dollars that you don't necessarily have into this project, hiring professionals to help make it shiny enough to entice strangers to buy into your passion.

Now imagine that this project is rated on a star systems, and before you've even released your precious baby into the wild, it's given the absolutely lowest rating possible. Though this seems totally unfair, there's nothing you can do to change it.

Such is the glamorous life of an author.


It seems there's a misnomer when it comes to Goodreads ratings, as far too often users see it as a system to remember which books they want to read. Sometimes I won't even have finished the book or written a blurb and I'll find a single one-star rating. Please, I beg you, for the love of authors who have devoted their lives into writing, don't ever use the star system for these purposes. By doing this, you're unfairly tarnishing the author's reputation/brand and making it more difficult for them to sell their passion.

According to Google, this is the universal standard rating system:
1 - Poor
2 - Fair
3 - Average
4 - Good
5 - Excellent

Easy enough, right? Now with that being said, my momma taught me to be kind to people, and I don't have it in me to ever give a book either a 1 or 2 rating. In my mind, a 3 = pretty good. If I can't say it was at least a 3, I won't rate it. Part of that may be due to the "Minnesota Nice" mentality that I can't seem to shake, but I also don't think it's warranted. Simply because I can't get into humans having sex with dinosaurs in space doesn't mean the book wasn't well written. If I give a book one star because it's not my thing, that's sending an unfair message to people who do enjoy reading about humans having sex with dinosaurs in space. (By the way, humans having sex with dinosaurs in space is a real thing. Apparently you can make this shit up.)

A prime example of a book I didn't enjoy even though well written would be J.K. Rowling's Casual Vacancy. There's no denying the woman has a beautifully tight prose, but this non-magical tale was simply not for me, so I chose not to rate it. However, over 24,000 readers gave it one star. First of all, I'd give anything just to have that many people give my book a chance. However, if this book had been written by anyone else, those ratings would have the potential to kill the author's career.

Ratings are everything when you're trying to get your book into the hands of readers. 

Accordingly, I implore you to take Goodreads ratings quite seriously. You're leaving a permanent mark on someone's career. Please don't be flippant about clicking your mouse, making a last second decision like it's a yellow stoplight. Stop to really give it some thought. It's only fair you spend a minute or two on your review considering how many hours the author put into creating their "baby."

To those who do take the time to write a thoughtful review, whether only the minimum amount of characters required or several paragraphs long, you have no idea how much your effort is appreciated. If I had J.K.'s success, I would take each and everyone of you out for a beer. Scratch that - I would throw you all one helluva party with Charlie Hunnam and Brock O'Hurn serving the beer. Shirtless. On a beach in Maui. With Jack Johnson playing his ukulele.

With these lovely visuals in mind, I'm off to write.

5 comments:

  1. er .. if you choose to put your work out there publicly then its to be reviewed accordingly. Whether that be 1* or 5..... its personal choice as long as its constructive . ive seen authors use negative criticism to become better writers.

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    1. I don't have a problem with constructive criticism. I definitely have a problem with ratings left for books that haven't even been written yet. And the 3 star thing is my own personal choice. Not saying it's the right way.

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    2. I agree with you on the ratings for books that haven't been written yet. I also get annoyed with Amazon reviews when they drop a star because the book arrived late or damaged or for something other than the book's content.

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  2. Yes, this. Thanks for saying out loud and putting into words what unfortunately happens a lot.

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