Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Writer Strangelove

Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love 2-Stars.

It was bound to happen.  Sooner or later, I would get 2 stars.  I was prepared.  I fully admit Dying Embers isn't going to be everything to everyone.  Still, when it happened, it was a little depressing.  Like when I found a dead hummingbird in my iris garden last Spring.  I don't know what killed her - I certainly didn't do it - and there wasn't a darn thing I could do about it, but it made me a little sad. 

First off, the two stars was not a review.  It was a rating - this thing Goodreads lets readers do where they can give their flash opinion without getting into the reasoning behind it.  It's not a bad thing.  I use it from time to time when I can't seem to put into words why I felt how I felt about a book I read. 

So there it was Sunday night.  Sitting amidst my 4 and 5 star reviews.  Naturally, I did what any self-respecting writer does - I went to bed.

Yesterday, I sorta forgot about it.  I mean, I knew it was there.  Any time I went to Goodreads, it showed a dip in my average.  But I had better things to do.  Until last night when I scrolled down the Dying Embers page to check where I'm at in this 'Beach Reads' list (154th out of 428, tyvm) and I saw the person with the 2 stars.  So I clicked the name. 

I couldn't help myself.  I mean, I'm not stalking or even all that invested.  I was just curious.  I figured I'd have a looksee and go on about my evening.

Well, Goodreads has this thing where you can compare the books you and another person have in common.  So I clicked it.  And I found something interesting.  Pretty much everything I've read and loved, they've read and hated.  In fact, one author I absolutely adore consistently got 1-star ratings from this person.

Suddenly I found myself wishing I'd gotten a 1-star rating, too, because then I'd be on the same level as this bestselling author.  Silly, I know, because when it comes to that other author, I'm totally Wayne and Garth on my knees going 'I'm not worthy!'  All at once, though, I felt proud of myself.

So, yeah, that's how I came to stop worrying and love my little 2-star rating.  If it was a physical thing, I'd put it on a shelf and pet it nicely. 

When you see a low rating on a book, does it have any effect on whether you purchase the book?  Do you ever 'consider the source' (as my mother always put it)? 


  1. There is a school of thought that 1, 2, and 3 star ratings give a book legitmacy--meaning someone besides friends and family are reading it. And yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment. I read the reviews because I mean what I say in my acknowledgements. I want to know why a reader disliked a book as much as I want to know why they loved it. Doesn't mean I'll change anything but it is a way to keep track of the effect my writing has on people. No, not everyone will love every one of my books. Some people hate them. Which means they don't have to buy any more. What tickles me is when they hate a book but buy the whole series and then hate every book in it. I have to laugh. And bank the royalty. ;)

    As far as helping me decide whether to buy a book or not, I've discovered that the books with wildly opposing views are often the ones that attract me. If people love it or love to hate it, that means the writing/story speaks to the reader. Those are the books I want to read.

  2. I always wonder why people who consistently give 1-2 star reviews to the same author keep reading their books when it's obvious it's not their cup of tea? A repeat offender smacks of a bully, someone with a delusional sense of power.

    As for ratings influencing my buying, that's complicated.

    I will almost always read the 3 star reviews because they're probably fair enough to point out both the good and bad things about a book. What I'm looking for is not their opinions but concrete details on whether I'll like it.

    For instance if they point out the author's verbose writing style, it's probably not my kind of book, so I'll pass. On the other hand if they mention scenes with historical or scientific context, or the author's quick wit, my radar gets all happy and I'm more likely to buy the book.

  3. Silver is right-on. I am suspicious when I only see 4 and 5 star reviews.So a 2-star makes your book more real.

    Personal experience. I read this book I found on Amazon and I loved it, so I promptly bought book 2. It started out great, and then the characters started doing things that made me say, "what?!" So then I went to look at the reviews of the book that I was reading. I saw a lot of negative reviews. It turns out, the author was using his series as a platform for his religion. I would not always be against this--after all, we have Narnia--but I could tell that the parts of the story that I was finding objectionable were only going to get worse. So I set aside the novel, for now. Maybe I'll get curious and finish it one day.

    After that experience, I started using reviews to determine whether or not I want to continue with a series. In those cases, I always read the one-star reviews first. I just read a book that I love, and some of the one-stars were a bit off-putting, but I still think I'll read the second book and judge for myself, once it comes down from hardcover ebook pricing (which must be a new trend). There were still lots of 5-star reviews in this case.

  4. I don't ever read reviews before I buy a book. Even on a second novel, I read the back blurb and the first page or two, and if both are interesting, I'll buy it.

    Sooooo not into the whole review thing. :-)

  5. I'm glad you asked that question because I had this issue come up recently. Once I mastered the art of Goodreads I thought I'd check out a book by one of my favourite authors. There'd been quite a gap since the last one she'd written in this series, so I wondered and because I wondered I started reading the reviews. They were awful. Some people can be brutal I thought & wasn't sure whether to read it or not. Then I decided that MY opinion was the only one that mattered to me so I read the book. I loved it. I couldn't understand what the reviewers were complaining about. Maybe they hadn't actually read the book, or understood the world it was written in. I wanted to smack myself for nearly allowing someone else's opinion keep me away for a good read. Everyone takes a different perspective into the books they read and obviously a lot of people felt that a strong man protecting his female was being abusive. I just wonder what was going on in their lives that skewed their view point.

    And totally out the other end of the ballpark, my Mum always said "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"!