I'm a goodreads refugee. I read horror, classics, literary, science fiction, YA, weird, regency romances, historical fiction, history, science, fantasy and random bits and pieces of every genre, it seems like. I don't do as much reading and reviewing as I used to, but I'm trying to get back into the swing of things.
I know that most, if not all, the troubles on Goodreads arose from authors responding to negative reviews which then caused some reviewers to answer back and here we go, here we go again, but even if that didn't happen, is it ever possible to please authors?
From this site,
[I] try to determine why a person who is supposedly my friend gave me four stars when they should obviously give me five. Are they just pretending to like me?
Objecting to 4 stars! That is a really good rating.
From the same author,
Then I curse people who gave my book a bad rating and yet say they didn't finish it.
They didn't finish it because they didn't enjoy it. Doesn't this author ever think that a book looked interesting but it didn't live up to it's promise. And what does she mean by a 'bad rating' since she objects to even 4-stars? Do authors not realise that low ratings (1 and 2 stars) give credibility to the 4 and 5 star ones? They stop them looking like puffery and mean that some people enjoyed the book and others didn't.
Another author who had just published a new book,
...seeing its value reduced to a 3.925, or whatever rating I'll find myself having this time, is not something I'm looking forward to.
That is a really high average. I have a bookshop, I look for books with an average of 3.6 to 4.4. Anything less I will consider if it looks interesting or only has a few reviews. Anything more than 4.4 and it doesn't have a lot of reviews, it's probably the author, other SPAs, friends and family, nothing objective, so I don't buy it.
Here's another author who thinks they deserve special consideration,
Sometimes I get a little annoyed by reviews that seem to flippantly dismiss the characterization in a novel, or declare that the pacing was slow, or whatever.
"Flippant"? If you don't like what the reviewer says you have to insult them, why? And you then admit that what they have said may be true,
Because yes, these things may be true, but now I know just how many hours of labor went into creating a character, or in attempting to rectify a pacing problem, and, you know, I can’t help but wonder if the reviewer understands that
Why should a reviewer consider the author's work load? What has that got to do with a review of a book? So we mustn't write any constructive criticism in a review even?
An SPA on rating other authors' books,
(I never give less than a four or I just don't put it up)
Well that still isn't going to please the first author I quoted!
And another one,
I use GoodReads more as a catalog of the books I read, and I give them all five stars. I know how good it feels to get a 5 star rating so why not make someone else's day?
Well yeah, all 20 million members of Goodreads could review every single book as 5 star and all the SPAs would be very happy. Except they wouldn't because not a single book buyer would look at such a stupid site and it would in any case die, or be shucked by Amazon, as a big joke in the publishing world. But the author of the entire blog does say,
I like the "only 5-stars" idea.
Then we have,
I recently spent over an hour removing the ratings on my GoodReads list
Now why did she do this? Because, as another author says,
I really feel that authors shouldn't rate other authors.
So the general consensus is that authors shouldn't rate other authors and reviewers shouldn't rate any book under 5 stars! The whole blog is a litany of protest against reviewers who don't give 5 stars to everything and an encouragement for authors to not do anything so unseemly as to actually review another author's book. I have come to the conclusion that SPAs don't like reviewers, all they want is free good publicity to get other people to give them $$ for their books. Write a review that is honest but not to the writer's liking and we get,
OH HELLO, THEY ARE JUST CRAZY PEOPLE.
and she quotes from reviews (with the reviewers names), such 'crazy' reviews as,
"The popularity of this book stupifies me - do people like it because they think they are supposed to? The story is dull and the pictures too brightly colored to be an effective, relaxing bedtime book."
With all the hype surrounding this book, I was excited to get this for my six year old daughter. She loves books, but neither she nor I could get the point of this. The uninspired writing goes nowhere. The plot(?) is strange and doesn't promote any appropriate values for children
Now ironically, that last review would make me very interested in buying the book. I don't like books that 'promote appropriate values for children" and I do like books with 'strange plots'.
But these authors consider themselves all to be potential Nobel prizewinners for Literature, and nothing less than
This book was really fantastic. The characterization was amazing and fitted in perfectly with the plot. You could see all the hard work this talented author had put into writing it. One of the big publishing company should immediately take it up because this could be the next no. 1. NY Times bestseller. I give it 5 stars but I wish I could give it 10.
When I see reviews like that I sometimes check out the reviewer and so often, so very often, it's another self-published author who has rated all other SPA's books as 5 star and that's what most if not all the reviews are. I wouldn't buy that book. Half a dozen genuine reviews in the 3-4 star range is enough to get me interested.
These all seem to be YA authors. What kind of example are they setting for their readers? That all criticism is wrong, that everyone must be continually praised, that effort is more important than results? Isn't there enough of that already in schools with the lowering of exam results so no one fails. It's a miracle there are so few special snowflakes around with that sort of culture.
Some brilliant advice for authors by another spa, Cynthia Leitich Smith who definitely has the right attitude.
To end this rant, not every book is a 5-star, but authors still do well, Grimus, Salman Rushdie's first offering was dreadful, absolutely awful, and he says so himself. A subsequent book of his, the luminously wonderful MIdnight's Children won the Booker Prize and 25 years later, the Booker of Bookers. Just keep on writing and if it's good, you will rise, and if it isn't ,either keep trying and listening to constructive criticism, or do what I did, find another career.