IWSG-The #1 Rule Authors Shouldn’t Break?

*Happy*FoURth*of*July*Eve* Am I the only one hearing constant explosions in my neighborhood this week? Don’t get me wrong, I love explosions just as much as the Little Blue Lady on Jennifer Eaton’s blog, but not between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m.  I imagine this is what it feels like to live in Syria. Thank God for our freedom! Sure, it’s annoying when I’m trying to fall asleep at 2a.m. and the fireworks are still going off, but I just pretend the teenagers have just finished 18 Things and it was sooo good, they had to celebrate. Hahaha . . . yep, a “vain” attempt to sleep.

Sorry, that joke was lame, wasn’t it?

Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. It’s the first Wednesday of the month, so it’s time for Head Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh’s . . . .

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

Last month, I wrote about my latest pathetic royalty statement. The good news? I was back on Amazon’s top 100 for coming-of-age fiction one day last week, something that hadn’t happened in 3 months! And it seems I had at least one fan, because the very kind Sandy sent me this email after reading my post (and gave her permission for me to share):

“I just read your latest posting regarding lack of sales for 18 Things. I just wanted to mention that I bought 18 Things as soon as it came out and read it in 2 days. I was so emotionally invested in all of the characters and their relationships. I laughed, cried and smiled a lot those 2 days. Please don’t give up writing and don’t change your style. You really have a gift and I am really looking forward to 18 Truths. On top of the many messages I got from reading 18 Things, you also taught me how important it is for me to write reviews for exceptional work, so the author has some idea how well they are being received. I promise to be a more responsible reader in the future. Good luck in your future endeavors and know that I bought a hard copy of 18 Things so I could read it over and over and hopefully give it to my child to read one day.”

How awesome is that? One thing Sandy mentioned was writing reviews. Those certainly are crucial. I have 40 Reviews on Amazon and 22 Reviews on Goodreads. As my publisher submits my book to B&N for nationwide distribution in their brick-and-mortar stores, I certainly hope for newer reviews. I hear that B&N usually likes to see near 100 reviews before deciding to carry a book in their store.

So, I was thrilled when one of my blogger buddies sent me an email saying she was going to post a review for my book. Then I read the review. The review didn’t make me angry, even though it focused solely on the sad parts and didn’t highlight any of the fun *that’s a reviewer’s prerogative*, but it did make me even more interested in a blog I read by Kristen Lamb that same day, Should Authors Write Bad Book Reviews? The blog was in response to a post she did the previous day about The Three NEVERs of Social Media, one being never write bad book reviews. To quote Kristen: “If I can’t give a book a five-star rave review? I just don’t review it. Again, publishing is a small world and we all need each other. The world is already out to throw us under a bus. We need each other to keep from turning into cutters.”

bus image

There was so much discussion surrounding this topic, she did a THIRD post, Is it FAIR for Authors to Review Other Authors? I should note that the review my blogger buddy emailed me (she gave me the option of asking her not to post it, which I thought was really sweet)  gave me 4 stars and I didn’t think it was a ‘bad’ review. She thought 18 Things was a brilliant piece of Christian fiction about dealing with death and learning to live your life again, but felt cheated by my ending so she deducted a star. I’m fine with that . . . I knew not everybody would like my ending when I wrote it.

I still consider 4 stars a good review, and have starred the books I read with 4 or 5. But ever since I became an author, I haven’t reviewed a book if I felt like I couldn’t give it a 4 or 5. I tend to agree with Kristen. I know the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into writing a book now, and writing is sooo subjective, I don’t want to publicly flog a book just because I didn’t agree with that author’s creative work. I think you can still mark it as “read” on your Goodreads page and just not star it. Silence can be very loud.

What about you? Do you leave ‘bad’ reviews? Do you think a 4 star review should still be considered ‘good’ or should I throw virtual eggs at my buddy? Hahaha  . . . kidding! Although that leads me to another thought. Has anyone seen the movie that was released last month, The Purge ? It’s an interesting premise where one day a year for 12 hrs, people can vent their negative emotions by making all crime, including murder, legal. Of course, I don’t agree with going that far, but it did make me long for the same concept, but with egging and toilet papering houses and cars instead. That could just be the foreclosure notice I was served Monday night talking though . . . really makes me mad that there’s no bailout that works for the American homeowner struggling to make their mortgage payment. But that’s a rant for another time. I still love America despite it’s politics–enjoy your BBQ’s and freedom tomorrow, even if that does entail posting a bad review 😉

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34 comments on “IWSG-The #1 Rule Authors Shouldn’t Break?

  1. Oh my… now you have me wondering. See, I try to be honest with my reviews. Not sure how Amazon works but Goodreads gives qualifications with the stars. 3=okay, 4=liked it, 5=really liked it. (or something like that.) I always stay within this range… except once, I gave a ‘1’ rating. I did say that the book wasn’t for me. Felt guilty, but left it. …now I feel guilty again. o.O

    Just started reading 18 Things today while sitting by the pool and I’m already hooked. 🙂
    Already thinking I’ll need a hard copy for my granddaughter.
    Good luck with that sleep issue (and that other issue) …and, it’s noisey up in this corner of the country also.

    • LOL, Ellen! I’m not here to throw rocks at you 😉 Just wanted others opinions on the matter. And thanks . . . hoping to stay longer in our home. I’m swamped with other things right now & really don’t want to add moving to another house to my list!

  2. I think a 4-star review means the reader truly liked your book, but that there was just a little, tiny something that bothered her (like your ending, for instance.)

    Typically, a 4-star review mean “I REALLY liked it” versus a 5-star which means “it was amazing!” Even a 3-star means “I liked it” while 2 means it was okay.

    So count your blessings if you received a 4-star and if you’r going public in B&N, then brace yourself, because no matter how great your book may be, there will always be readers who don’t like and will rate accordingly. It’s just too subjective.

    As for The Purge, that was by far one of the WORST movies I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch. The premise was wack! But that’s me!

    • Hey, I’m very happy with any 4 or 5 star reviews! Just wondered if, as an author, you only leave 5 star reviews. And I didn’t actually see The Purge, but it looked interesting to me. Guess I’ll wait for it to show up on Netflix.

  3. I debated this for a long time. I try my best to post no lower than a 3 star review, but I don’t want people to think that I wouldn’t be honest if I really didn’t like a book. I always explain why I felt the way I did, why it’s only my opinion, and I can always find something good to say about any novel.

    • I know what you mean . . . I don’t want people to think I’m not being honest with reviews, especially if it is a blogger buddy or something. I’d still leave 3 star positive reviews if I didn’t think sensitive authors would throw those virtual eggs at me *runs and hides*

  4. I agree with others – if I can’t honestly leave at least a four star review, it means I haven’t been able to finish the book. If that is the case, I leave no review. Period. BTW – I LOVE 18 Things and I’ll get my review posted!

  5. I only give five star reviews. If a book lingers in my mind long after I’ve read it then I post it on Facebook and let everyone know how much I loved it.

  6. I was soooo grateful when Kristen Lamb wrote that series of articles about book reviews. Now I have a link to share when someone pressures me to do something I’m not comfortable doing. I have agonized for so long over this, because I know I’m a super fussy reader, and if I were honest I could probably count the books I think rate five stars on one hand! And yet I don’t want to spread bad karma about books that lots of other readers love.
    So I’m taking a pass on all fuss about reviews, but know that if I’m reading a book (which I occasionally feature on the sidebar of my blog) I’m enjoying it–and 18 Things was one of my favorites for this year!

  7. A couple others have posted about this in the past few months, including one author who says it’s dishonest not to post a bad review.
    I don’t usually post unless it’s four stars or higher (which I still consider a good review) but that’s also because if I didn’t like the book that much, I didn’t finish it. I don’t think it’s fair to review a book I didn’t finish.

  8. Jamie, I am from the old school like “Thumper” … If you haven’t got anything nice to say … don’t say anything at all. I get dozens of books from authors all year … I win a contest … I download when they are reasonable in Kindle. I buy up print books at bargain prices. And I mean dozens of them. If I don’t like a book, I don’t give any review. I use reviews on amazon because it helps newbie writers … and help is what I think we should do. Let someone else shoot the dog, I want to be supportive and keep negative comments to myself 🙂 You keep striving !!

  9. I’m with Kristen. I don’t give a review unless I can honestly give the book at least 4 stars. I don’t see any reason to publicly slam a person’s hard work. If a book doesn’t have 4 star reviews, I usually don’t pick it up. Now, for 18 Things, it’s still on my TBR, (hangs head in shame.) So the fact that I haven’t reviewed it, only speaks to the fact that I’m wa-a-ay behind in my reading! I’ll do it soon! I’m so sorry to hear about your house. Hang in there!

  10. I think four star reviews mean you really enjoyed the book. Get this, I even think a three star review isn’t bad. I think you can do a Goodreads review of books you give three, four and obviously five stars to while being complimentary. I think there is a big difference between saying what you enjoyed best about a book and slamming it. So…be proud of your four-star review. I think it’s great!!!

  11. I’ve pretty much avoided giving reviews altogether because I’ve heard mixed feelings about authors doing reviews over the years. I only did one and I enjoyed the book quite a lot. I think I will start reviewing a bit more, but I’d be like most others in that if I didn’t like it, I probably won’t be reviewing it.

    I did see that move and it was scary!!

  12. I hear the random explosions at night too. Last year, it started while I was reading a battle scene in a science fiction book. It was pretty awesome.

    Good for you getting that email from your reader. It sounds like you’ve done something really positive in that person’s life, which is more important than any royalty payment at least in my opinion.

    As for reviews, I don’t do a lot of reviewing. When I do, I usually stick to four stars and up. Four or five stars means I loved the book. If I do three, it means I thought the book was at least worth reading once even if it didn’t change my life. If I feel a book deserves two stars or less, then I can’t be sure if it was really a bad book or if it just didn’t appeal to my own tastes, so I leave that alone.

  13. Hi Jamie! What an awesome review from Sandy! Woot!
    I struggled with this recently with a self-pub story that had a great premise but the craft was awful and proved the writer didn’t know the craft at all. But in the end I decided NOT to leave a review cuz the things I noticed were only cuz I’m a writer and I’m sure plenty of other readers will enjoy the story. Maybe the writer won’t grow as he should without negative reviews but that’s not up to me anyway.
    Hope your 4th is fab!!

  14. I read that post too and it did make me think twice before reviewing other authors. I don’t leave bad reviews but I’m not normally shy about saying what didn’t work for me. I think I’ll be more cautious in future.
    Lovely review from your fan.

  15. I think authors should not give reviews too much stock. I rarely give a 5-star review, even for a book I like. I save the 5-stars for the super exceptional and the 1 and 2 stars for the super-awful, which means most books I review get a 3-4. I only review on Goodreads and that’s mostly for my own personal book-reading record. If i do reviews on Amazon, they’re only for books I can give a 4-5 to.

  16. I like to give honest, specific reviews, even if I really, really hated a book or found it mediocre at best. I do try to see the positive in books I otherwise didn’t like, such as mentioning that maybe it’ll be a good choice for reluctant readers or boy readers, or praising the worldbuilding.

    I tend to read the 1-3 star reviews (of anything, not just books) first, since sometimes a lot of 5-star reviews tend to sound all the same after awhile, repeated clichéd praise and/or sycophantic raving. They can be the opposite of poorly-written, off-topic 1-star rants like “Someone stole my credit card and bought this book on my Kindle for their child!” or “My teacher made us read this, and I hate reading and books over 100 pages.”

    Recently, however, I refrained from reviewing Sharon Dogar’s Annexed, a book I didn’t really get into. I felt kind of guilty for not liking the book, since I feel her heart was in the right place, and it’s told from the POV of a real person, Peter van Pels, whose life was cut tragically short. Somehow it felt like giving it only 2 or 3 stars would’ve been hurtful to his memory.

  17. I feel like anything three and above is a positive review. I always feel frustrated when I can’t give someone a four or five star review. But, as an author, I read those lower starred reviews (I’ve received some three’s) and see what my writing lacked for that person. What can I hopefully fix in the next book? I want to improve as a writer and I want to know what people think. I love the five star reviews I’ve received, they make me all tingly and happy inside, but those folks who don’t worry too much about my feelings and tell it straight (for them) are just as good. When I don’t feel I can give five stars (for whatever reason), I try to sandwich my critique between layers of love : ) Happy fourth!

  18. This is an interesting subject that gets a lot of thought. Personally, I feel like honest reviews are important. Also, I love Goodreads’ “compare books” option and other social functions on that site where honestly rating books influences your profile. That said, I rarely give a book less than 3 stars unless I really hated it. Three stars on Goodreads means “liked it” and 4 means “really liked it” and 5 means “loved it” so these are all very good in my opinion. Once you get to two, it’s going downhill. Still, I feel like not giving books honest reviews is cheating the whole process. It’s like giving a child an “A” in a class where they did “C” work just because you don’t want them to feel bad, even though “C” is supposed to mean average. How can anyone learn if all the kids get “A’s” ? If I give a book a 5, it means I really loved it and would read it again. A 3 is more like it was good, but I likely wouldn’t read it again. Still, those mean reviewers on Goodreads that give 1 star reviews that are pages long with images, etc. (check out some of the Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight Reviews for example).are just mean. Also, I rarely do reviews on Amazon, but if I do, I only give 4 or 5 stars because that is a selling site and not a personal social book site. I often raise my stars on Amazon as their star system is harsher than Goodreads. Sorry, practically wrote a book here. Thanks for the food for thought.

  19. Another blog enjoyed by your Mom! I think it’s fair to review a book with a 4 rating. I don’t buy only the 5 stars!! I do think reviews should be constructive and not hurtful. Can’t wait for “18 Truths”. Oh there is a day for toilet papering houses, it’s called Halloween. Tirck or Treet!! 🙂

  20. 4 stars are good! I think authors just posting about books they totally love is great. We see what they like. Avoiding posting what they don’t like is good too–cause I may like that book! LOL

  21. Pingback: “Arbitrary” or “On Stellar (and Less Than Stellar) Ratings” | Ever On Word

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