What do you think about the issue of ratings for fiction?
What a Nuisance
When someone is writing fiction it seems likely that the primary reason they are doing it is to write fiction. Duh! It is an interest pursuit and can be challenging in a way that is fulfilling. Unfortunately, in most instances the author would also like to sell some books. Maybe they have a dream of being greatly successful or at least would hope there would be some sales.
And so that means it’s necessary to be involved in promotions. Ugh. The dreaded promotional process. It can be cumbersome and time consuming and is not exactly creative. Since it is quite likely that the book will be sold on Amazon the author will begin to see ratings go up. It is at that point that the author needs a perspective on just what they mean. Here are some thoughts.
My Recent Experience
In the spring Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power was published. I anxiously awaited the first reviews and ratings. Then came the first one. It was a one star. Very far from what I hoped. It lingered there alone on Amazon for quite some time. Not a high point. In the review the person said “vocabulary to advanced for subject matter”. There were other errors in spelling and grammar in the comment. Let me just say that the book obviously was not suitable for them and probably not to their taste. Fortunately, shortly other ratings began to show up with 5 star ratings clearly coming to dominate. Large breath of relief.
Choosing to Rate a Book
In working on promotion it was clear to me that there are very distinct categories and people have clear preferences. I will not review or rate a book that is not within one of my fields of interest or preference. If I don’t like the subject matter I don’t have to read it to know I won’t like it. Well, at least most of the time. Sometimes I’m surprised.
What to Expect
I’m sure there are widely divergent opinions but my perspective is that if five stars absolutely dominate then it is likely that the person has a following. That isn’t always the case but it is sometimes. The import of that is that an author, particularly at the beginning, needs to temper his or her perspective and expectations. Since ratings are often done by reviewers it can be expected that a reviewer will be critiquing a book. And that means when they see a problem or a shortfall it will probably dictate a lower rating. That is fair enough.
The bottom line is that ratings are valuable to authors and readers alike. But the numbers don’t stand alone. Among them are reviews and reviewers can give an added perspective. And the author needs to be ready for the rating which represents a person who simply doesn’t like the genre or the level at which it is presented.
What has been your experience with ratings and reviews?
Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt
Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page
Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt
Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership
Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt