#Reviews #StarRatings A Blogger’s Perspective

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Stars in reviews are probably one of the most contentious issues in the world of reviews! Everyone covers that accolade of the five golden stars and either weep with despair or howl with derision at that evil one star review! Me, I hate the things with a passion, I detest them! There is no consistency over their meaning between Goodreads and Amazon and even amongst reviewers and bloggers there is a difference in what they mean to individuals.

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For me the most important thing about a review is the words! Whether you are a person of few worlds or one who likes to wax lyrical, it is the words that you use that convey how a book made you feel, did it get under your skin, did you feel transported to the setting or believe the characters were people you know? Or perhaps the plot was a bit too unbelievable or the characters a little wooden? These are what matters – the words! The feelings. The passion! Not the stars.

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Folk say they don’t trust people who give 5 star reviews and think they must somehow be lying about how a book made them feel. I use my lunchtime star rating as an example of how two very different experiences can bring you the same level of enjoyment and satisfaction in very different ways: There is a wee Italian in our town, it does the most exquisite lunchtime menu with dishes and flavours that send my senses into a spin – I rate it 5 stars all the way There is also a Subway and I order the Italian BMT with Southwest Sauce every time and it is to die for – I also give it 5 stars. How can you 5 star a classy restaurant alongside a fast food joint full of spotty kids and screaming toddlers I hear you ask? Because both of them satisfy me, sometimes I feel like a fast lunch, quick and easy but other times I want something a little more extravagant. With books it is the same, depending on what I’m looking for a the time will determine my book choice and the enjoyment I derive from reading it. Two very different experiences can be rated highly, it is how I feel about them that determines my rating.

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So if you are an author worried about star ratings, please try not to stress, look at the words written by the reviewer, that 3 star review may actually be more positive than the four star one! If you are a reviewer, don’t get hung up on them, just write how the book made you feel. If you are a reader of reviews then please remember different books provide different enjoyment levels to reviewers and their high star ratings are not lies, they can be trusted and remember that a lot of bloggers do not write blog posts about books that they didn’t enjoy or didn’t finish because life is too short when you want to share the book love!

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17 thoughts on “#Reviews #StarRatings A Blogger’s Perspective

  1. Indeed, everything is relative and depends on circumstances. I tend to look at sras and first ask : within what context was this rated? Which is kind of the same as your lunchtime question.
    Having worked on market research I know top ratings are also a cultural thing : dour Dutch people won’t give a 5 as easily as an enthusiastic American. 🙂
    But I wouldn’t dispense with them altogether – they provide a use. I often see bloggers who say a 5 means they’d read it again. Which I think is a good way of looking at it. By that token however I would neve give a 5 as I have never re-read a book.

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  2. Great post, Sharon. It’s definitely the words that count for me. Of course it’s lovely as an author to get 5 stars – but some three-starred ones say more and can actually be more insightful, useful and complimentary. Also as a reader I put more weight on what the reviewer actually says. I like your analogy with the two different kinds of restaurant feeding different needs for the same customer.

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  3. I whole heartedly agree with this! I’ve often thought it rather cruel that the way books are judged only allows for 5 stars as opposed to say a %. I’ve just written a three star review and it wasn’t that I didn’t like the book, I still had plenty of positive things to say about it in my review, it was just that I personally didn’t get parts! Have read some other reviews though everyone seems to rave about it!
    It’s all very much down to personal opinion at the end of the day, and as long as the review has enough words I think the star rating shouldn’t be viewed as the be all and end all.

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  4. Great post! I also hate star ratings. Besides, on Goodreads, 2* looks bad, but it still actually means ‘it’s okay’. So even that is still positive! It’s a complicated world when stars get involved, hehe. Loved reading this.

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  5. Excellent post and I love your analogy of food-I sometimes give a five star because I want to grab everyone and make them read it, and recommend it to everyone I meet, or it could be one that makes me smile and has references I know are made for me, music and films I’m into, that sort of thing, but I know other people might find a bit bubble gummy. I have been debating whether to leave ratings off, especially when I give e.g. a 4.5 then go to Goodreads and debate moving it to 4 stars and Amazon and go up a little (as I can’t do the ‘it was Amazing’ rating that Goodreads requires, but am willing to say ‘I loved it’ for Amazon;)) I do feel so bad for authors when I give a 4 star as I know over a certain amount of 4 stars on Amazon gives them more advertising opportunities

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  6. Thank you for this post, it’s really helpful. As an author I care so much more about the words the reviewer has written than the stars they give, though I’m never sure how they came to arrive at their star choice. I have some lovely-worded 3 star reviews, and the clue to the star choice often seems to be in the level of personal discomfort caused by the subject matter. But Amazon would never ‘get’ that.

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