When everything is perfect

Star Rating

I did not grow up in the time of ‘participation medals’, not everyone was a winner, and sometimes no-one was. Which is why I think that a perfect score should be reserved for only the very best of something, not squandered so freely as to be meaningless.

As some of you may remember, I published my novel Paragon on both Smashwords and Amazon recently (and it is still available). I quickly followed this up with a free short story Welcome to Midnight. Having rarely purchased books online before, these publications were my first exposure to the mixed up world of star ratings.

It seems that there are a lot of ‘perfect’ books out there. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for my five star reviews, but to be honest I am also very surprised. I would only give a handful of books a perfect score, because as much as I enjoy a book, I believe you should always include room for improvement.

The problem is there are a lot of people freely handing out five stars, meaning that if someone gets four stars or below (because someone like me reviews it) it will completely destroy the book’s standing. So even if the review was positive, and talks about how great the book is, because it is not five stars the author’s book will plummet in the rankings from first page display to 15th page (in some instances).

This leads to pressure to give a book five stars, because too many people assume it is awful if it gets below that. Add to that the complication of many of those reviewing the books being authors, so they are fearful of negative feedback on their own novel if they give less than a perfect score, it renders the whole star rating almost meaningless.

I have learned, as I’m sure many others have, not to pay too much attention to the stars unless they are very low, or if the number of reviews is very high (but even that isn’t watertight). The review itself is the best thing to go by, and that is what I now use when choosing my reading material.

I can’t think of a way to get around the star rating, as a computer system needs something universal to rank by, but it is disappointing that so many good books are so far down the suggested reading list just because they were reviewed by naive people like me, who thought they were being fair.

2 thoughts on “When everything is perfect”

  1. Clearly the answer is to have a 6 star system!

    Seriously, as one of the people who gave you a 5 star, at least I think I did, most of my motivation for doing so was to support a new author, and not turn off any prospective buyers. As you point out, that probably defeats the purpose since no one takes notice of such a review.

    I came across the following :
    Which seems like a good solution to get some early and objective reviews, and give good feedback on the quality of the book from the potential buying public.

  2. Thanks for the link Leif, that looks fantastic! And yes, you were a 5 star review giver (thank you), it was only after I got your stars that I realised how important they were. My number of downloads went up quite a bit and then I suddenly got worried about NOT getting 5 star reviews.

    I wonder if the overall star rating didn’t get displayed until there were at least 2 reviews, so no one could be sure of who rated what, maybe then we would see more fairness.

    But for now, if it is enjoyable, I just give 5 stars!

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