The Daydreamer’s Ramblings is something new I’m going to try here at Ramblings of a Daydreamer. It will range from discussion posts to rants to raves about my favorite things. I had originally thought of calling it ‘From the Author’s Perspective’, because I feel that I might have a bit of a unique perspective, being both an author and a book blogger. Most authors these days are bloggers, but few are book bloggers, so I thought I might take that perspective and talk about issues that bloggers are concerned with, but from the perspective of an author. I might still do that, but it will fall under the umbrella of The Daydreamer’s Ramblings, rather than having a bunch of different features to confuse you all!
The first topic I want to talk about is book reviews and star ratings, something that affects both authors and reviewers. I had a discussion about this on Twitter a few weeks ago with several other book bloggers, and it made me curious how other people feel.
As an author, I depend on reviews and ratings to sell books. Do the majority of people love it or hate it? Will people read the reviews and be convinced to buy the book, or give it a pass? I can feel good about the positive reviews, and take the negative ones as constructive criticism and work on those things in future books.
I’ll be perfectly honest with you, and tell you that if I could go back there are a few things I’d change about Blue Sky Days based on some of the reviews. It’s still my baby, I still love it, and I’m incredibly proud of it, but the majority of criticisms revolve around the same one or two things, so I would work on those. In that way, reviews are incredibly helpful for authors. Although there’s nothing I can do about Blue Sky Days now, I can keep those things in mind for future novels, and not make the same mistakes.
As a reviewer, I don’t really read a review of a book before I read the book. Why? Because I don’t want to know anything about it - I don’t even read the synopses of books most of the time. I know that sounds bizarre, but it’s a system I developed several years ago, and it works for me. Once I’ve read a book, I might read a few reviews, and I tend to read reviews of good blogger friends out of curiosity and courtesy, but for the most part, I don’t put much stock in reviews unless the majority of them say the book is horrible. If a lot of people have an issue with a book, I think that speaks volumes.
As for star ratings, I think they’re completely subjective. Some people are very tough and critical when reviewing books. I’ve seen tons of rave reviews where the reviewer gushes about the book, but then only gives it 3 stars. WTF? Then there are the haters out there, especially of independent authors. It is widely known in the indie community that there are jerks who have nothing better to do than go around GoodReads and sometimes Amazon, and give a ton of indie books 1 star to drag down their rating. I had this happen to me before Blue Sky Days was even sent out as an ARC - meaning nobody other than my betas, proofreaders, and editor had read the book, so what exactly was this person rating?
When I looked at the person’s other reviews, I discovered they had gone through dozens of books and given them one star, and the majority of the books were by independent authors. I’ve had this happen since, and it makes me feel like crap. If a person read the book and genuinely hated it enough to give it one star, fine. It would still be upsetting, but I could respect their opinion and move on. It’s the people who are so miserable and petty that bother me. Get a life!
After the last time this happened, I took it to Twitter and the people I talked to said they don’t put much stock in star ratings anymore because of the arbitrary haters, and because there are also people who do the flip side - friends and family who think they’re helping an author by giving the book 5 stars without actually reading it.
What I’ve learned from this is that it seems to be the actual reviews that matter. If a person says they loved a book, did they say why? Ditto for if they hated it - why did they hate it? What were their favorite and least favorite parts? How did the book make them feel, and did it stick with them afterward? Those things will let you know if a person actually read the book, and therefore if their emotions and opinions are genuine.
And even if the review was negative, it’s just one person’s opinion. I’ve loved plenty of books that other people hated, and vice versa. Also, you would expect a negative review to turn most people off a book right? Not necessarily - there are times when a negative review will make me more interested in a book, especially if the reviewer is ranting about ridiculous things, or turning the review personal.
Now, my dear blogger and writer friends, I ask you this: what do you think? How much stock do you put in reviews and star ratings? Do you judge a book based on other people’s reviews? Do you still give a book a chance if it has an overall low star rating on Amazon or GoodReads? I’d love to know what you think!