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Friday, March 30, 2012

3 Star Rating Event - authors and publishers speak out

This is day two of the 3 star rating event (you can find day one post here) and we have authors Dani Harper and Sean Cummings and editors/publishers Amanda (Strange Chemistry), Patrick (Sea Lion Books) and Dominique (Musa Publishing).
They have some interesting things to say and give some insight to the other side of the reviewing coin .

Dani Harper
I confess, that my initial reaction to a 3-star rating is not a happy one. My inner critic cackles in my brain, “There, you see? I told you that you can’t write worth a darn – they didn’t like it!” But after applying some emergency chocolate, I get in touch with my more sensible side. The side that checks out what a 3-star rating means to that particular blogger. It’s a perfectly good rating on many sites! It makes me recall some teachers I used to have in public school. Mrs. Joiner was generous with A’s. Mrs. Sydenham seldom EVER gave out A’s. It meant different things to each of them. So I consider the source first.
The second thing I consider is personal taste. We are all individuals. What one person raves about, the next person may completely hate. I have several friends who recommend books to me. Often I really like the book too. But sometimes I wonder what on earth my friend possibly saw in it. Different tastes. Bloggers have different tastes too.
The third thing I do when I get a 3-star rating is read the review very carefully. What is the reviewer saying and is it possible that they’re right? Could I have improved the pacing? Did I put in too much backstory? Maybe yes, maybe no. But I definitely think about what the reviewer is saying in case I can learn something that will help a future book be that much better. And I appreciate that the blogger took the time and made the effort to review my work -- it's a job I'm not sure I could do.
I think my only concern about a 3-star rating is what it means to a possible new reader. Do they think my story is sub-par because it’s not a 4 or a 5? Do they pay much attention to ratings at all? I don’t know the answer to that one. All I can do is try to improve my craft and make each book the best it can be.

"I'm not overly concerned about three star reviews because the review process is entirely subjective - I've got 5 star reviews of my books and 1 star reviews. Big deal. That said, refusing to offer ARC's to bloggers who give out three star reviews is publishers trying to game the rating system, particularly if that review is on a book buying website like the one that starts with the letter A. I understand that a lot of this has to do with how a book places in comparison with other titles and it's probable there's a business reason for doing it, but it's dumb, dumb, dumb. The only people really talking about books these days are book bloggers - they're passionate about books and they're an integral part of book promotion. Publishers need to remember that bloggers do what they do because of that passion - they could easily stop - or worse, organize via social media to decry the policy... no wait, that's happening right now, isn't it?"

Amanda at Strange Chemistry
Strange Chemistry is a global imprint dedicated to the best in modern young adult science fiction, fantasy and everything in between.
My name is Amanda and I am the editor of Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot Books. Before taking on this job I used to review books on a personal blog. In my opinion, a 3 star review is letting a reader know that a book is straight down the line - it has good points, but isn't magificent. It has bad points, but isn't worth avoiding. I can see that some people would find a 3 star review rather negative, but for me this is where a novel starts out from when a reader turns the first page. The extra stars have to be earned by a certain quality of writing or plot; the novel can lose stars if it becomes derivative or lacks that writing quality. I can safely say that no blogger would be ostracised for giving a Strange Chemistry novel a 3 star review - in all honesty I will just be grateful that people are talking about the books and caring enough to review them!

Patrick at Sea Lion Books
Sea Lion Books is a publishing house dedicated to bringing readers new stories by some of the biggest names in publishing and entertainment, while re-imagining some of their classic works in visual format.
“Personally, when a blogger rates one of our titles with a 3 star, to me it means they believe it’s a very good book, but it simply isn’t their cup of tea. There’s a high probability they will not want to read the second book of that series. As a publisher, I’ll always kindly offer the second book in the series to them in the hopes they might discover it was their cup of tea after all. In conclusion, a 3 is a good and respectable rating.”

Dominique at Musa Publishing
Director of Promotions
At Musa Publishing the story comes first. First, foremost and always Musa Publishing is focused upon the satisfaction of the reader, the growth and success of the writer, and the quality of the product.

"It amazing how quickly a 3 star rating has received a bad rap. To me a 3 star means that the reviewer liked it, they enjoyed the story and felt like they didn't waste their time reading it. Perhaps the three star is because there were technical errors that distracted the reviewer or perhaps the story just didn't resonate with that one person. Every book can't be on the scale of Pride and Prejudice for every person. For that matter P and P for me is a 5 it's what I hope one day to achieve but many people don't love the book and would give it a three. Does that make my love of the book any less? No. Am I curious to read why it got a three? Heck ya. I tend to read the three reviews more then the others. And I tend to believe reviews more on places like Amazon where it isn't all 5 star reviews, because it tells me people who don't know the author left some reviews too.

Am I hoping to get the big 4 or 5 reviews of course I am, but I am happy when a three comes in. What I think a lot of people don't get is the huge chasm between a 2.5 and a 3. To me I find a 3 closer in review to a 5 then I do its neighbor the 2.5. In a three the reviewer is saying look I enjoyed the book and I would recommend it to people who like the genre. That is a win in my book."

I would like to thank our guests for giving taking the time to give us their views. And thanks to Bitten By Paranormal Romance for organizing things. Be sure to check out what different authors and publishers said on the other blogs participating in this event.


  1. Great post! I'll always give honest reviews and if that means losing books over it, oh well. There's millions more out there. :)

    1. you have too, otherwise what is the point or reviewing? I have talked to one author about the pressure of getting those 4 and 5 star reviews because amazon ratings matter so much. If a book doesn't get 4 or better, it doesn't get featured on their lists, which means less exposure. Publishers know this too. So amazon is kind of making our 3 star rating a bad thing and encouraging false reviews :( amazon is a double edge sword I am afraid.

      thanks for commenting, it means a lot :) cause you were the first *hands over tray of Moon Pies* have all you want!

    2. Totally agree. You HAVE to be honest about how you feel, now someone else might feel different but that's great too. :)

  2. These were interesting to read. U don't use a eating system on my blog but when I rate on Amazon or goodreads, the bulk of my books are 3 stars. I am stingy with 4 & 5 stars but 1 & 2 stars. So when I give a rating other than 3 stars, the book really struck a chord for better or worse. I'm leary of anyone who gives only 4 & 5 stars because I don't know what it means. What would it take for a book to receive 3 stars or less?

    1. yeah, you really have to know the reviewer/blog and how they rate things. I like to look at a bunch of reviews on a book 1-5 stars. Gives me a better idea of what the book is really like. Reading just one 5 star or 1 star can be very misleading if you don't know the source. thanks for commenting!