Monday, October 01, 2012

Reviews, Ratings, & Goodreads

We talked about receiving reviews last week. Today, I want to look at things from the other side. Who's up for a few questions? ;)


















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Speaking of Goodreads, we had a nice discussion in the comments last week. Many of you expressed frustration over ratings that don’t match reviews, i.e. glowing praise with a three-star rating. It made me curious. How do you interpret the star rating system? 

I see it like this:

★★★★★ – This book rocked! Probably a genre favorite. I’d definitely recommend it.
★★★★☆ – Pretty darn good! With one or two exceptions, I loved this book.
★★★☆☆ – Meh. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. Average rating for this one.
★★☆☆☆ – Borderline suckish. I had serious problems with this book.
★☆☆☆☆ – Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate. *Hiss*

If you’re friends with me on Goodreads, you’re probably scratching your head. “But Carrie, you only leave 4 or 5 star ratings.”

That’s true, and I’ll tell you why. I don’t have a lot of time for GR these days, so I tend to rate in black and white. Did I like the book? 4-5 stars! Did I hate the book? I don’t bother rating it. *Shrug* That’s just me. 

How do you do it?

Keep an eye on this post, guys. As the comments and poll results roll in, you just might learn something about your readers. ;) Have a great week!

P.S. Speaking of reviews (I’m on a segue kick), Strength received its first in-depth review on GR last month. ♥ One milestone down!

65 comments:

S.P. Bowers said...

I generally rate the books, I guess I want to give other people an idea of how I felt about it. Plus, I rate them for me. As I look at books and they say it's like such and such and I see I only gave such and such two stars then I may not want to read it.

Kyra Lennon said...

I usually only rate books if I have something nice to say lol. :D

Lindsay N. Currie said...

I generally don't review or rate books, unless there's one I loved and I'm dying to tell the world about it. Quite honestly, perhaps I'd rate more books if I wasn't a writer myself. Interesting post Carrie!

JeffO said...

See, I would consider 3 stars a pretty good review. Not great, not "I loved it", but I would consider it better than average. Good, solid, not spectacular.

I think the most telling point in this poll is going to be question 5. If reviews have little effect on people (which is what I suspect most people will claim), why are we bothering? And when I say 'we' I mean it in the broadest of terms, since I don't review.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I agree with your assessment - three stars is average, and no one wants to be average. Average movies are forgotten and so are books.

Juliana Haygert said...

My rating system is like yours, except that, if a book is 3 stars or lower, it means I won't/didn't finish it, so that's why you'll only see 4 or 5 stars on my GR.

I do think about writing reviews sometimes, but I'm no good with it. My phrases are: great book, nice characters, surprising twists, etc ... If I was good at writing reviews, I would be reviewing books once in a while at my on blog ...
But I would like to change that. Especially now that I have books coming out. I would love if my friends reviewed my books, and I want to do the same, so I guess I better start reviewing, right ;)

If a review affects me? I do look at how many stars the book has, and see if my friends reviewed them and what they thought about it (if the review is too long, I skim through). I don't read the review of non-friends.

Sorry for the long answer, but I wanted to be honest ;)

ilima said...

I only do 4 or 5 stars on goodreads too. I'm too chicken to rate anything lower for fear of backlash when my own book is on there. Ha!

Suzi said...

My rating system would be pretty much like yours. But I don't rate much and never do reviews. If I do rate, it's a four or five. Because if it's less, I think I should leave a decent explanation of why, and I hate putting that into words.

Usually I don't even read 4/5 star reviews. I want to read the 3 and under to see why people didn't like it, and often I'll read them after I've finished the book, to see if I agree with what the reviewer wrote.

Lisa Regan said...

For me 3 stars is I liked it but it didn't blow my mind. 4 stars is it was pretty amazing but there were a couple of issues that I had with it. 5 stars is this blew my mind, one of the best I've read! What I can't understand is when people give a 3 or 4 star rating and then don't say why. Like what made you not give the person that 4th or 5th star? That's what I want to know. Even if the reason is simply that you didn't connect that much with the book. I really only see that on Goodreads though--where people give a 3 or 4 star rating and then give the book a glowing review but don't address why they gave it the rating they did. The reviews on Amazon are usually much better and more well-thought-out than the ones on Goodreads though. Consumers on Amazon aren't afraid to tell you why they only gave something 3-4 stars. They usually list their reasons.

Victoria Smith said...

Great post! I rate and review if a book is 4 or 5 stars and honestly if ppl always did it that way the lack of reviews would tell more about a book than rating something low and writing a harsh review. Just my opinion though :)

Nancy Thompson said...

I find it do interesting that most folks aren't persuaded by reviews. I think it's mostly us authors that so much importance. If I put in the time to read a book, you bet I'll at least rate it. My system is pretty much the same ad yours. I rarely give 1or 2 stars unless I feel duped into reading it, and then I likely didn't finish it but I'm still pissed. That happened recently with the late Michael Crighton's Micro. It was so obvious he didn't write most of that book. I felt duped into buying it because it had his name on it. I'll give 3 stars if it was a good premises only adequately pulled off. But mostly, if I like it enough to finish, it'll get 4 stars if I really liked it & 5 if it knocked my socks off.

Nancy Thompson said...

I really should refrain from commenting on my stupid smart phone. Sorry for the auto-corrected typos.

Cassie Mae said...

I'm so bad. I don't review books ever. I think it's just cuz it's all my opinion and no one should base their opinion on mine, hahaha! I will recommend books though, for sure :)

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Here is the 2-STAR review I just got on my book on the NOOK:

This book grabbs your attention from the start and never lets go. I found myself devouring the pages as quickly as I could. I can't wait for the next book!!!

Does that sound like a 2-star review to you? I just shook my head and was like "whatever." I don't think reviewers know what stars mean.

Michael Di Gesu said...

I'm kind of with you Carrie. I generally won't leave a bad review, especially for a blogger buddy. I WILL do a post on my blog about their book focusing on the positives. But to leave a crummy review isn't my style.

I mostly leave four starts because the book is REALLY good. BUT, I am a stickler about five stars. I have never left a five star review. The book HAS to BLOW me away for that. I wish we could leave partial stars because several of the books I have reviewed did come close to five stars. Why can't we do a 4.5 or 4.75 rating?

Iain said...

More importantly, do you take bribes? lol

Emily R. King said...

I answered all the questions! I often rate according to stars, but don't review.

cleemckenzie said...

This reviewing business has been bugging me for quite a while. So glad you're polling people. Frankly, I don't think people are being honest with their reviews. In fact, I know so. When I've written an "honest" review of a popular book, I got emails telling me "they" felt the book wasn't very good, but gave the writer 5 stars and made glowing remarks because: 1)they didn't want to hurt the author's feelings 2)they were afraid of repercussions when their own book came out.

This is why I pay very little attention to reviews anymore unless they come from Kirkus or other neutral sources.

Melissa said...

I see you caught my poll fever. LOL (kidding)

Why do people think a 3-star isn't good?

If you save 5 stars for the totally-loved-everyting-about-it books, then 3-4 isn't bad. I can see how it might be frustrating when the star count and the meat of the review don't match up, but I wouldn't thumb my nose at a 3. *shrugs* Maybe that's the reviewer's way of rating it like they see it and still giving encouragement to the author.

As far as authors reviewing books, I think they need to be honest or not do it. An author friend over at The Sheepish Scribe does a good job IMHO. She isn't shy about rating lower than 5, and she speaks up if there is a problem area, but she also mentions what was done well. I've never considered her lower reviews to be harsh.

Carrie Butler said...

Not a bad idea, S.P.! I hadn't thought about rating them for my own reference later. :) Thanks for stopping by!

Carrie Butler said...

Hah! Same here, Kyra. It goes back to that old saying... ;)

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Lindsay! I'm the same way when it comes to reviews. I have to really love the book or the author. :)

Carrie Butler said...

I think I'm stuck in some kind of academic mindset. The possibility of a 'C' always made me hyperventilate...

Oo, good point. I'll tell you my answer to that one. Reviews have little effect on my reading decisions! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Exactly. No one aims for a lukewarm reaction. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Don't apologize for long answers! I love them. :)

I'm the same way when it comes to writing reviews. (In fact, I've only done three on GR so far.) I swear, it takes a completely different skill set than writing books. I start typing, and then I get virtually tongue-tied!

I'm working on it, too. ;)

Carrie Butler said...

Hah! Hey, there's nothing wrong with spreading a little positivity. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Well said, Suzi! If I ever used less than four stars, I'd feel compelled to explain my reasoning, too.

Otherwise, I don't see how it would help anyone make an informed decision. *Shrug*

Carrie Butler said...

Is it sad that your first sentence made me break into song? The NKOTB cover of "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)". LOL

Yes! Those discrepancies make us curious. I mean, by that point, I've usually decided whether or not I want to read the book. It's just interesting to see other people's perspectives. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Victoria! :) Oh, yes. It's always nice to see those positive aspects highlighted. Maybe that's why I always enjoy reading reviews on your blog!

Carrie Butler said...

Hah! Oh, Nancy. I love the honesty (and intensity) of your opinions, i.e. you get pissed when you feel duped into reading books. I love it! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Hey, recommendations are helpful, too! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Two stars? Wow. I'd like to see what their 5-star ratings/reviews look like...

Thanks for stopping by, Michael! :)

Carrie Butler said...

I think we can all attest to the fact that leaving crummy reviews wouldn’t be your style. You’re one of the most positive people I know. :)

Partial stars would be perfect!

Carrie Butler said...

I don't know. No one has ever me offered one...

Kidding, kidding! *Grins*

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Empress King! :) I'm more likely to rate, too.

Carrie Butler said...

Oh, wow. It's a shame they feel that way, isn't it? I don't see the point of less-than-honest reviews. Too political for me!

Good point. I read Kirkus reviews, too! :)

Carrie Butler said...

It’s contagious!

Yeah, there are many schools of thought on the three-star rating thing. I’m not sure there’s a right answer, either. I think it’s just that, to me, three stars feels like a ‘C’. I wouldn’t thumb my nose at one, though. (Especially if they originally wanted to give me two stars!) I was just trying to gain a deeper insight into everyone’s line of thought. :)

Oo, I’ll have to check out her site. Thanks for the heads-up!

Hildred said...

When on GR I go by what GR says themselves about the star system.

1 star - Didn't like it
2 star - it was okay
3 star - I liked it
4 star - I really liked it
5 star - I LURVE U

I used to review more before I published. Now I only leave reviews for big name authors, preferably if they're dead. And usually out of my genre. Call me paranoid, but I've -seen things- on Goodreads. I also ask people who know me to disclose that they do if they leave me a review on one of my works. DODGING ALL THE BULLETS.

I will leave reviews for fellow indies though if I really liked it or more. Not touching anything less with a ten foot pole. S'how the internet is working, currently.

Carrie Butler said...

I completely understand what you mean. I've seen things, too. *Shudder*

Better safe than sorry, right? :)

Melodie Wright said...

I do reviews for ARCs I read through Netgalley, but only if I liked the book. If I didn't connect, I do nothing - not even list on my 'read' books or leave stars. IMO, reviews are for readers looking for something good to read so I start my stars at a 3. Very few books get a 5 - that's for I would buy the hard copy of this book - so most are 3-4.

Morgan said...

Loooooved the poll. WAY FUN. :D

Hope Roberson said...

I'm a slacker and am a little intimidated by Goodreads :( I have yet to actually do anything on it. Soon I hope.
Just wanted to stop in and say how WOWSA your cover is! Amazing!!!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

In the old days, I reviewed regularly. Since 2008 I've been so busy promoted my novels. It's a shame because I love reading for the sheer enjoyment of it. I don't give 5 stars much either, unless it's absolutely apparent that the book in question is outstanding. I believe 4 stars gives the author something to work towards. I wouldn't rate my novels above 4 stars either.

linda said...

I only rate/review on Goodreads, and I go with their definition of stars since it works for me. And I'm a picky reader, so 2-star is my most frequent rating and what I consider average. I mainly rate for myself as a record of which books I've read and whether I liked it or not. I used to keep it all in an Excel spreadsheet, but then I made the leap to Goodreads for the social aspect.

That's why I started "reviewing" -- for me, it's to express my opinions and feelings about books I've read and to spark discussion with friends. I don't review to help other people decide what to read, or promote books I like, or to make authors feel good/bad (though sometimes those things happen anyway). They're just for me to express my thoughts. And I LOVE reading other people's long, analytical reviews, so I'd love to start writing more of those. :)

Melissa said...

I see your point about the 'C.' My alter ego doesn't give many 3s. I rarely give 5s, but if I liked the book, it usually gets at least a 4. If it was really bad, then a 1 or 2.

Ciara said...

I think three stars is not constant between organizations. For some, a three star means good. Other groups say it means it wasn't great. I tend to ignore three star reviews. Not great, but just doesn't persuade me either way.

David P. King said...

Great post, Carrie. I used to review and rate movies for a few years before I switched to books, but finding myself more relaxed when reviewing books. Maybe I'm just easy like that. :)

Tara Tyler said...

i feel the same as you! if i dont like a book, i usually dont finish it, but some books i dont like, others will so i dont want to give a negative review...

Carrie Butler said...

Have I mentioned how lovely you look today? :D

Carrie Butler said...

Good point, Melodie! It's not like readers are looking for something to hate. They just want something good to read! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Morgan! My marketing side takes over once every few months. I love collecting information like this. :D

Lynda R Young said...

Yep, If I don't like a book then I won't review it because I either don't want to upset the author by putting up a bad review, or I don't want to waste any more time on the book.

Shannon Lawrence said...

For me, a 5-star is that I absolute love it, a 4-star is that it was pretty good/kept me entertained, a 3-star is okay, a 2-star would have to be pretty bad, but have something to salvage it, and a 1-star would be completely terrible.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

Rachel Morgan said...

I have a bit of a problem with the rating system ... The way I understand it, the stars refer to how much I ENJOYED the book. My personal feelings about it. So it may be a really well-written book, but I just didn't enjoy it because it just wasn't my thing. So then I'd want to rate it 2 or 3 stars, but my review might talk about how excellent the writing was and how other people might love it. So that would probably seem like the rating and the review don't match up...

Kelley Lynn said...

This. Is. FREAKY! I posted on this today! Wow... we must be on the same pub family wave length or something, girl. haha

Carrie Butler said...

I was intimidated by it, too. It's one of those things you just have to dive into.

Thank you so much! :D

Carrie Butler said...

I have nothing but respect for that type of skill! I'm terrible at writing reviews. My mind goes blank, and I end up thumbing through the pages for an hour. LOL Books, though? Articles? Business correspondence? I can deal with those. ;)

Carrie Butler said...

An Excel spreadsheet? Wow. You were so organized, Linda! I love it. :D

Ah, yes. It's always interesting to see people play off of each other's comments. I'm all for discussions! :)

Carrie Butler said...

That makes sense. The middle ratings don’t tell you much. :) Thanks for stopping by, Ciara!

Carrie Butler said...

Maybe it's an Ohio thing. ;)

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, David! Books hit a little closer to home, eh? ;)

Carrie Butler said...

Makes sense to me! :) Thanks for stopping by, Lynda!

Carrie Butler said...

I like that system! Simple, yet effective. :D

P.S. Thank you for following!

Carrie Butler said...

Oo, that's an interesting way to look at it. There are tons of well-written books out there that haven't resonated with me. Hmm...

Carrie Butler said...

We must! :D On my way over!