Last year I posted about how sick and tired I was of seeing the 5 star reviews constantly given to certain, well known authors.
Call me a cynic, but I was – and still am – a tad skeptical about an author being able to produce a Desert Island Keeper every single bloody book.
Crazy of me, I know.
At the same time, I’ve been really interested in the discussions generated by Kassa‘s opinion pieces about the value of 1 star reviews and then questioning why reviewers appear to be scared of low ratings.
It also made me wonder…
For as much as readers are afeared of giving the dreaded 1 star, aren’t we equally as terrified of attracting the attention of evul minions by failing to gush over a popular author’s latest offering?
Cos I don’t know about you lot, but, quite frankly, some of those fandomiacs scare the absolute crap out of me.
hehe they are scary. I just rated a newly published book 2 stars on GR just because I didn't like the way the book was going plot wise. The writing was fine, there was an hea.
But still, I had trouble finishing it.
As a nono in m/m land I am not afraid of giving those two stars though.
Girl…I never hold back on my star ratings! If it is horrible, I don't care who the fuck the author is, it will get a negative rating! I don't bash the authors, but I also don't give a glowing review on a crappy book either.
This is timely. Did you see the words of advice Becca Fitzgerald posted on her blog and on Goodreads about taking down an aspiring authors who had the audacity to give Hush, Hush a bad review?
Well, I'm pretty easy (shut up) so I can't think of any one-star reviews I've given really. Maybe I did but usually if it is worth 1 star then I likely didn't finish it and I don't rate DNF books. They just disappear from my life. Two star? Maybe a couple. I've never really been concerned and if someone is going to give me shit over three stars they can suck it. Because I'm not going to be intimidated to give a higher score because of that.
I think most authors who have a rabid following do have a certain level of skill (most), so it's not often you come up with a total stinker from them, but I guess you never know.
*sniff* I don't have any evil minions. If I did I would want them to look like the ones from Despicable Me.
Seriously though, I expect one or two star reviews. It's part of the business. Do they sting? Sure, but then I pull on my big girl panties and remind myself that not everybody is going to love my work. I think more authors need to learn that writing is always a developing skill and there is ALWAYS room for improvement.
And the whole thing where at least part of the legions of minions are additional constructs of the author?! Sheesh.
I rate 'em like I read 'em.
I generally tend to like most of the books I read so on average my ratings are between 3 to 4 stars. If I love it I'll give it more and if I don't like it then “too bad, so sad” it'll be 1 or 2 stars.
I read, review and rate based on my personal taste and not on a “name”. I did have a run-in with a couple of fandomiacs last year but otherwise haven't had any problems.
Oh yes, I've experienced the rabid fans who have taken it upon themselves to defend an author's fragile ego by telling me my opinion is WRONG (or even that I am a horrid person for saying so, on a couple of occasions). I've stopped reading/reviewing at least one of these authors because the actions of the fans meant that I couldn't be bothered to put up with their shit every time I reviewed a book.
You are right, Kris. No matter how much of a wonderful writer an author is, they will not produce a 5 star book every time. No matter what the fans say.
I've had the opposite too. I've written a 5 star review and then been slammed for liking the book because of its controversial themes.
Ingrid: VERY scary. 🙂 Most of my ratings are 2 stars and I get shit for it all the time. You'd better too or else someone is playing favourites, which is totally unfair.
Amy: “If it is horrible, I don't care who the fuck the author is, it will get a negative rating!”
You go, hun! I think some people feel pressured to give a good review because of who the author is. Or at least they seem to in the m/m community.
KBC: No, I didn't see that. Linkity please. 🙂
Tam: You're easy?? No shit. 😛
“Maybe a couple. I've never really been concerned and if someone is going to give me shit over three stars they can suck it. Because I'm not going to be intimidated to give a higher score because of that.”
This is pretty close to what my next topic is. We have hive mind.
“I think most authors who have a rabid following do have a certain level of skill (most), so it's not often you come up with a total stinker from them, but I guess you never know.”
Proof that you're way nicer than I am.
As if there was any doubt.
Stephani: LOL. I'd love a couple of minions like those in Despicable Me. They were total cuteheads.
“Do they sting? Sure, but then I pull on my big girl panties and remind myself that not everybody is going to love my work.”
I think that's a terrific attitude and, unfortunately, one that is not always prevalent in the m/m or broader romance communities. Even worse is when the rantage is public. The idgits.
Chris: “And the whole thing where at least part of the legions of minions are additional constructs of the author?! Sheesh.”
Word. It's pretty damned pathetic and, as with the case of author misrepresentation, is bound to be found out eventually.
I have to be honest, I do get scared when I rate books. I worry that someone, somewhere, won't think I've justified the addition or subtraction of stars.
Was having a fascinating discussion with Chris earlier about five-star books. And usually my five-star books aren't perfect. I can rattle off a number of things that probably won't work for others, and may have raised a few questions with me. But…I don't care about then, because the book speaks to me. But…five star reviews for every book the author has written?
*thinks about the ratings given to Sarah Monette's books*
OK, I think I rated every book in her Doctrine of Labyrinths series as five stars, but I didn't rate A Companion to Wolve five stars….I think *blushes*
Lily: I remember those run-ins. It gave me a serious WTF moment at the time because you seem to be a much more forgiving reader than I am and always someone who makes an effort to explain – in a non-snarky way – in their reviews what didn't work for you. If those fandomiacs had actually been familiar with your reviews as opposed to jumping on an author bandwagon, they would have realised your approach to reviews. What dildoheads.
Jen: “I've stopped reading/reviewing at least one of these authors because the actions of the fans meant that I couldn't be bothered to put up with their shit every time I reviewed a book.”
I probably would have told them all to fuck off and chucked it all in, Jen. I don't know how you, Kassa and Lily put up with that shit. You're all better women – not to mention reviewers – than I am that's for damned sure.
“I've had the opposite too. I've written a 5 star review and then been slammed for liking the book because of its controversial themes.”
You can't win can you, mate. 🙂 In all seriousness, though, I remember the shit you got into re: the dub con theme in… Broken Boundaries, wasn't it?? I was pretty surprised at some of the backlash and negative comments that you got in response to that review.
Orannia: “But…I don't care about then, because the book speaks to me.”
That's how my 5 star books work for me too, Orannia. There may still be things that I don't necessarily like about the story, etc, but if I close the book with a 'wow' then that's all that matters. :DDD
I've decided to give up rating and posting any reviews below four stars, as it doesn't make sense for an author in this tiny genre to upset other authors. I'm not going to inflate my ratings, though, I just won't post anything for the ones I'm not so keen on. In fact, I'll try to pretend I've never read them!
It does seem weird to give everything by a particular author five stars, but I suppose some people's idea of what five stars means is different to others. I've tried to give a helpful definition of how I rate things over on Goodreads, but I know others are much more stingy with how they hand the things out (Kassa instantly springs to mind!)
It's sad to hear of rabid fans ganging up on reviewers, though. I've not seen it happen myself, but I can see how it would be an unpleasant experience for the reviewer and put them off reading that author again. Seems counterproductive, on the fans' part.
Here you go!
The comments there are revealing as well.
Sturgeon's Law. Also, I'm a hack.
I expect 90% of my stuff to fall solidly in the 3 star range, with forays into 2 and 4 stars. 5 and 1 should be rare.
At least that's how I rate books and movies. A book I read that I like but doesn't stuck with me is a 3. A book I read and kinda go “meh” is a 2. A book that sticks with me is a 4. A book that haunts me is a 5. A 1 star means I loathed it or slogged through it or didn't finish it.
I don't have marching legions of minions to intimidate. I just wish 1 and 2 star raters would add a review so I know what they didn't like.
Josephine: “I've decided to give up rating and posting any reviews below four stars, as it doesn't make sense for an author in this tiny genre to upset other authors. I'm not going to inflate my ratings, though, I just won't post anything for the ones I'm not so keen on. In fact, I'll try to pretend I've never read them!”
Totally understandable. Of course, at some stage down the track, a random person will no doubt take umbrage at your sensible approach. Most likely me because I would have forgotten all about this conversation. LOL.
“Seems counterproductive, on the fans' part.”
Yup. Here they are trying to convince everyone how good their god is, but their rabidness puts everyone off instead. Unfortunately they don;t see that.
KBC: Very interesting. I thought the post was relatively harmless myself in a passive aggressive kind of a way, but obviously there is a whole lot going on behind the scenes that people haven't been privy too.
Angelia! You've introduced me to a new theory. I've never heard of Sturgeon's Law before. Methinks, it will become my new catch phrase. 🙂
“I just wish 1 and 2 star raters would add a review so I know what they didn't like.”
Do you ever approach readers, Angelia, to ask them what they didn't like or connect with? Or is that something you don't like to do because of possible backlash?
I know the authors I talk to hate to see bad reviews of their books, but as a reader I appreciate reading bad reviews. Either I then know what to avoid, or I think that what didn't work for that reviewer might work for me.
I find it a pain to read something that got wonderful reviews from the reviewers who give everything five stars, and to find that I think the book was awful.
The books that get middle ratings in reviews and the reviewers' explanations why also let me know if the flaws or themes in a book are something that wouldn't bother me, or if it just sounds like my kind of book.
As for my own approach, I'll mention books I liked or loved on my LJ. Silence from me doesn't mean I disliked a book, but it could mean that. I just feel that it's much better for me to be positive in public, though I certainly have private opinions.
Em: The general consensus seems to be that readers want a range of reviews and reasons why books did or didn't work for a particular reader.
“As for my own approach, I'll mention books I liked or loved on my LJ. Silence from me doesn't mean I disliked a book, but it could mean that. I just feel that it's much better for me to be positive in public, though I certainly have private opinions.”
You're in a difficult position, Em, as you work in the industry. Not unlike what Josephine was talking about when it comes to rating the books of other m/m authors.
I agree, that damn Josh Lanyon needs to stop writing so well. It's sickening!
I say we start sabotaging Josh's keyboard.
I'm on this one Kris.
TPig: Well, as long as you don't go down the route of Annie Wilkes and start with fingers…
Luckily, I have such a small blog, not many people even see what I think so I'm less likely to offend anyone. LOL!
Srsly though, a little while back, I decided to mention every book I read or listen to – I found it quite challenging as I could no longer cherry pick and only review the “good” ones. I try and state what worked for me/what didn't on the blog and on GR.
I do try and self edit so that if the author reads it (however unlikely that might be!) I might still feel a little uncomfortable but I would know I was honest and not intentionally rude.
@ Stephani Hecht – thx for that – comments like that make me more likely to try/stick with an author.
Kaetrin: “I try and state what worked for me/what didn't on the blog and on GR.”
These are the kinds of reviews that I like the best because then I am able to work out for myself if the same things that bothered you might – or might not – bother me. We're all different after all. 🙂