Friday, February 21, 2014

Writing Reviews That Match a Book’s Star Rating

I’m being interviewed today by author Medeia Sharif. Please stop by and say hello.

There have been a lot of great posts and articles regarding book review etiquette. They’ve covered everything from how to contact reviewers, what to cover in a review, and why you should never respond to a review. I’d like to cover the content of a written review in relation to its star rating.

Sometimes I read a review that doesn’t match up with the amount of stars given. Perhaps the reviewer gushes over the book and yet only gives it three stars. In order to avoid confusing readers (or misleading them) here’s a breakdown as to the content of each written review:

5 Stars - This book hit it out of the park and the review should reflect that. Everything should be positive, with maybe one tiny issue mentioned at best. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it did land over 90% and an A.

4 Stars - This book was really good and most of the review should be positive. Obviously there were issues preventing it from being a 5 star, and those should be mentioned. But the bulk of the review should not be what was wrong with the book.

3 Stars - This book was good/average but nothing you’d read again. Since three stars is right in the middle, half of the review should state what didn’t work and the other half what did work.

2 Stars - This book wasn’t very good. It had a lot of problems and those should be mentioned in the review. It wasn’t God-awful, so there should still be a positive line or two. It didn’t fail completely, just really missed the mark.

1 Star - This book was awful. One star is an F and this book failed on almost every level. Almost all of the review will be negative, although hopefully the reviewer found one nice thing to say.

And with all reviews, if the reviewer didn’t connect but felt others might, that should be mentioned, and any book that wasn’t finished shouldn’t be reviewed.

That is how I see the breakdown. If you view the breakdown differently, please let me know!


2014 National Wormhole Week is coming up and we are hosting a blogfest.

Hosted by Stephen Tremp, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and myself.

This blogfest, also known as “Wormfest,” runs March 10-16, 2014, and is a celebration of Stephen’s upcoming release, Escalation.

Rules are simple:
Name one thing where science advances mankind, and one where technology will go too far and set us back. They can be the same thing or different.

Sign up HERE

36 comments:

Rhonda Albom said...

Love your guide. The A and F rating makes it all really clear.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Interesting post, Diane. I frequently wonder over reviews that don't match the stars...it really sends out a mixed message to other readers (and the writers, too!)

Writing for Pleasure said...

I loved your listings, heaven knows what mine would come.

Enjoy your week-end.
Yvonne.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Rhonda, I've always thought of it as grades.

Elizabeth, some people look at stars and some read the reviews, and if they don't match, people can get the wrong impression of the book.

Jo said...

I do so agree with your listing. I don't much like doing reviews other than possibly saying I enjoyed it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Already visited Medeia!
I agree with your take on reviews. I have some reviews that don't match the star rating.

Johanna Garth said...

This is interesting. Sometimes I hesitate to leave reviews because I feel like I'm in the business of writing not reviewing, but then I know it helps writers so...it's always an issue that's a little fraught for me.

shelly said...

This m

shelly said...

Having iPhone issues. Your post makes perfect sense.

Maurice Mitchell said...

I've noticed that too L. Someone will give a book five stars but say, "except...is really bad." On the other hand, someone gives a book zero stars but says, "except...is really good." Make up your mind and commit!

Vanessa Morgan said...

Heading over to Medeia's blog to read your interview now. Have lovely weekend.

Robin said...

Excellent guidepost. I wish everyone who reviewed books took a look at this for reference.

I cannot tell you how many reviews I read and they are three stars, but full of praise. Which is it? Great or average? Or five stars but full of complaints. Which is it amazing or average or worse?

cleemckenzie said...

The star rating with those descriptors works for me. I wish Amazon and goodreads would add those descriptors, so everyone would be on the same page.

Thanks for this.


I'll stop at Medeia's to say hi.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Ah, I could have used that guide a few times as a reviewer. Some of my three stars should be four stars because even with mistakes I would read them again.
On the other side of it, I've received a few three star reviews that gushed and left me confused as a writer. That "three" middle rating seems to be the tough spot.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Johanna, I'm hesitant to leave reviews, too.

Maurice, that's right! LOL

Robin, those kinds of reviews bug me.

Lee, that would be nice.

Tyrean, that would confuse me.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm signed up for Wormhole. Good points on how to rate a book in a review.

Southpaw said...

Good system. A positive review requires the whole book to be read, but I do think it is okay to review a book you were unable to finish due to constant spelling errors or confusing plot as long as that is clearly stated in the review.

Steven said...

I made the mistake of writing a 4-star review for another writer. He was incredibly offended because in his mind 4-stars meant the book was crap. I thought it was good but not absolutely perfect. I guess some people think we all deserve 5 gold stars just for participating.

Donna Hosie said...

I agree with your assessment on rating. It's certainly how I review/rate books.

Julie Luek said...

Great guidelines. I'm very particular about the 5s I give, but give lots of 4s. I know this is a sticking point for a lot of authors. It's made me back off Goodread reviews a bit. This is helpful.

LD Masterson said...

I wish more reviewers would follow your guidelines. It's confusing to read a gushing review that only gives three stars or a five star that only discusses the books shortcomings.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Steven, I've been happy with a 3 star rating before.

LD, I know!

Nicki Elson said...

I like this breakdown! Yeah, I've definitely come across reviews where the words don't match up w/ the stars.

If someone stopped reading a book because of poor execution (rather than personal preference) I think leaving a review with an explanation of why they didn't continue reading is appropriate---might save other readers from wasting their time/money on it.

Jemi Fraser said...

It's so hard to know how others judge books so it's hard to trust the reviews. I like your system! :)

J E Oneil said...

Since an F is anything below a 60, does that mean a book is only 60 percent good? Because I'd think that would deserve two or two and a half stars.

Wendy Ewurum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wendy Ewurum said...

This is a realy great post becuase i have to gotten whiplashes from shaking my head in shock at reviews that dont match ratings....its always also nice when the reviewer explains why they missed the expected rating....

Thank you Medeia and Diane.
Greetings from Johannesburg, SA:

Wendy @ Wendy @ Join This Hop

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

I'm going to point towards this post on Facebook - I think it'll be helpful to a lot of readers. Thanks!

Kimberly said...

Great breakdown on your system. I have to say that I don't really trust all reviews so if the book sounds good to me, I'm going to add it to my list and try to read it and make up my own mind. :)

Medeia Sharif said...

This review system makes all the sense in the world. I've definitely read some reviews that don't match the rating. I'm sure I do that myself.

Arlee Bird said...

When I leave a review I try to adhere by those standards you've mentioned. I always hate having to give a rating of 3 stars or less, but I feel like my reviewer integrity relies on my honesty. And I always try to find something good and put a positive spin on things.

You might enjoy my roller coaster post at my memoir blog linked below.

Lee
Wrote By Rote
An A to Z Co-host blog

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Nicki, something besides "This book sucked" of course.

JE, that's why I didn't use percentages for the F, because a one star book would be down near 10%.

Cathy, thank you!

Kimberly, I think that is what most people do.

Lee, roller coasters?

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Good guidelines, Spunk. I tend to be a bit too fair. I have an especially difficult time being critical when reviewing friends' books.

Be well,
xoRobyn

Milo James Fowler said...

Your star ratings make sense to me. I think a 1 or 2-star needs to focus on the craft of the book, not whether the reader just didn't like the material. Sometimes, reviewers don't seem to have read the blurb stating what the book's about.

Sherry Ellis said...

I think your review marks are very fair. I tend to be rather kind in my reviews, so something that should probably get a 3, I give a 4.

Gossip_Grl said...

This makes sense. Right now I am venting over a book that was a Good Reads email suggestion. I found the book over the weekend and of course read the author bio (Which I know now is totally misleading) and of course the back cover. I was about ready to set the book on fire but decided to blog a little about it. For one it is saying it is a #1 NY Best Seller, but only into the second chapter it is feeling like a bad copy cat of another book that I read. The author makes claims in the bio about reviews and when I read the reviews on both Amazon and Good Reads people are giving it a bad review with Five Stars. This book is not a five star nor would I even consider it a #1 and I am only into the first chapters.