29 March 2012

Three Star Hop part II

Yesterday we took a look at what a three star review means to bloggers and readers. Today we will hear what authors have to say on the subject. Thanks again to BittenByParanormalRomance for hosting this hop!

First let's hear from Dianne Greenlay. Dianne's book, Quintspinner: A Pirate's Quest was one of the first books I reviewed back a year ago now. You can find the review here. This is what she has to say about 3 star reviews.
A 3 out of 5. Hmm... Technically that's a 60% in old school math. So a passing mark, but just barely ...

As an author, a 3 star hits me in the gut. While not an out and out rejection or hostile criticism of the novel that I have slaved over, spent hours of my life trying to bring it as close as I can to perfection, here's how it feels to me: we authors can't wait to finish our project, see it through publication and then experience the excitement of getting it out there! And a microsecond after it appears for sale, the dread of being judged in public sets in. (Next to having  great writing skills, social media savvy, marketing know-how, business sense, and an engaging presence - hello, all my Tweeps! - a writer needs a VERY THICK SKIN.)

A single 3 star review by itself says to me that the reviewer was lukewarm about the book and, depending on the comments, my novel probably wasn't the kind of genre or voice that the reviewer liked. However, if I had numerous 3 star reviews, it would shout out to me that I had come close to failing to excite the reader - I had missed the mark of providing them with enjoyable entertainment for their money. Often 3 star reviews have helpful, even complimentary bits in them but unfortunately, the "3 out of 5"  is a subconscious label that says "Ah.. hmm ... (yawn) I guess it's good enough." 

And to me "good enough" seldom is.

 Bobbie Pyron is our next author to weigh in. Back in June 2011, I was fortunate enough to run across her book A Dog's Way Home in my local library. Great book. My review is here, if you are interested. These are her thoughts on the subject:
My personal policy is not to read reviews of my books on Amazon and Good Reads. have seen some wonderfully talented authors getting completely distraught over bad reviews, or a lack of "stars", particularly on these two sites. I reserve my "review anxiety" energy for the reviews my books get in professional journals such as School Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, and the perennially grumpy Kirkus Reviews. Why? Am I a snob? No, I'm also a librarian as well as an author. I know the importance of good reviews in those sources (as opposed to Amazon and GR) to librarians and the buyers in bookstores.
Don't let any author tell you otherwise: we have fragile egos. Or maybe it's kinder to say, we're the sensitive types. I know a high-powered editor who is also an author reduced to an insecure mess (for a short while) because of a negative review he got from some anon. idiot on Amazon. To me, it's just not worth it. Perhaps the wonderful and frustrating thing (particularly for authors) is reading is so darned subjective! I often am lukewarm as a reader over books that most people rave about. But as authors, we need validation that we are more than just "good." And truthfully, it's really an unfortunate thing for writers. Maybe it's the lonely nature of our "job" or the fact that we risk so much of our inner selves to bleed onto the page, but we are probably the worst for looking outside of our selves for validation of the worth of what we do. And yes, I'm as guilty as anyone.
Last but certainly not least, let's hear what Holly Robinson has to say. She is the author of Sleeping Tigers which I enjoyed reading and reviewing recently. Here's my review and here's what Holly thinks of three star reviews:
Every writer loves to earn 5 stars, but that's kind of like giving every kid on a baseball team the same trophy.  I mean, really?  Is every writer Jane Austen or James Joyce?  Only in my wildest fantasies...on the other hand, some people might prefer a paranormal romance to James Joyce or Jane Austen--or a gritty crime novel, or a comic travel memoir.  Book reviews, like art reviews, are necessarily subjective, because every book is a direct communication from writer to reader, and we all bring unique personalities to the page.  
    So, yes, I'd love to bring home that five-star prize every single time I'm reviewed, but a three-star review is something to be proud of, too.  It's not a mean and nasty review, but one that most likely means the reviewer liked some aspects of the book but not every bit of plot, character development, tone, etc.  The number of stars means less to me than whether the reviewer read the book thoughtfully and has some interesting feedback that I can mull over as I try to write an even better book next time.
From the variety of responses, I think we can see why star ratings are such a bugaboo. The number of stars given can mean different things to different folks and three is especially hard to pin down. It's easy to understand that one and two are not great; four and five are great but three? Hopefully we all have a better idea of 'three' now. Want to know what other authors think? Check the blogs on the linky. Are you an author and want to weigh in or a reader with something to say? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.


  1. I have come to notice that most authors sure do not like 3s, while I have such a different take on them. I give most books 3s, and in my book those are good and i recommend them

    1. I do the same. It is interesting to get different points of view.


Here's your chance to voice your opinion. We all have them. I'd love to hear yours. I try to respond to all comments so please check back if you are interested in that.