Tuesday, 4 September 2012

To Review Or Not to Review.......

As an author with a few books out there I feel very constrained when giving ratings to other people's books. There are a few reasons for this. The first one is revenge hits from disgruntled authors who aren't happy with my rating. The other is the difficulty on deciding how many stars to give even for books I really love.

I've mentioned here before that I think the who rating system has become so compromised that it's meaningless. So many authors are guilty of writing 5-star reviews for themselves or getting family and friends to pen glowing 5-star endorsements that it's practically impossible to tell which ones are real anymore. Then there are the paid-for reviews which have been in the news lately, further discrediting the whole system.

I have been guilty of this in the past, but on a very small scale, mainly because no one would write them for me! I've also rated some of my own books on Goodreads, but this isn't cheating as the site allows you to do it and clearly shows that you are the author. I decided quite a while ago that it's just not worth it to fake reviews and I'd much rather let my book stand or fall on its own merit. Believe it or not I'm actually happy with a one-star review I got for one of my novellas because it lets people know that the book does not have a lot of romance in it, and the ending wraps up fairly quickly. This is the purpose of reviews, to give readers vaild information, and I believe this review has helped me avoid more disappointed readers who were hoping for something different.

Reviews will always be contentious, and there will always be authors out there who try to play the sytem to sell their books.

My way of supporting fellow authors while avoiding the pitfalls of reviewing other people's books is to stop giving star ratings and simply write reviews from now on. This means I can only post reviews on Goodreads as Amazon doesn't allow reviews without ratings. I believe that this will allow me to give a more honest review that highlight positive and negative things about books, without the pressure of having to rate them. When 3-stars is considered a bad rating by many these days ratings have become very inflated and ridiculous, and this is just my small way of trying to restore a bit of reality to the system.

A lot of people claim they don't even  bother to look at reviews anymore before buying books. Do you still read reviews, and do they have much influence on your buying decisions? How can you tell the difference between a genuine review and a sock puppet? Personally I go for detail, and also for criticisms, because let's face it, no matter how much you enjoy a book, there will always be one or two things you think could be improved. Reviews that focus only on the positive aren't much use to me at all.

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