Monday, October 18, 2010

Rumbles on Ratings

What power do ratings have?

I've heard some ratings make readers buy and authors do the happy dance. ( my favorite)
I've heard some ratings make readers have second thoughts about a book and make authors run to their secret stash of chocolate for comfort. (awww)
I've also heard some ratings are ignored by readers because they don't give all that much credence to reviews. (to each their own)
I've also heard that some authors blow their tops over a rating that is less than what they believe it should have gotten. (can we say unprofessional?)
I've been flabbergasted to find out that some publishers won't allow acknowledgement of ratings below a certain rating, nor will they permit their authors to even mention that same review nor admit to its existence.
(Gee, publisher diva syndrome?)

Seems a bit extreme to me, but what do I know?

Thing is, our society is obsessed with ratings. Movies have ratings. We have polls for our politicians and they have ratings. Everything is set up to a scale to give us an idea as to the value of an object.

That then is the dilemma. Review ratings are not scientific nor are they black and white. They are based upon subjective views and reflect a variety of opinions. One person's soap box rant is another's Best Book. Perhaps a reader was in a dark place and hated a romantic suspense because at that moment in time, they would have been better off with a romantic comedy - the result, their rating of the suspense book was low so it looked like it tanked.

Fair? No, I don't think so. Human? Absolutely.

That's why a review site's owners have omniscient oversight. They know they need to expect those kinds of situations and allow for a book to get a second chance with a different reviewer versus labeling the book a low rating the first time around.

Case in point, I simply do not like the style of writing that endears legions of fans to the author, Ms. Diana Gabaldon. My own cousin thrills to her books and has even met the lady and adores her.

I. can't. stand. them.

It's my personal opinion and were I to rate the first book, of which I've read twice, forgetting that I actually had read it once already, I would have rated it a 3 1/2. Both times.

Yet, my cousin would have written a glowing fan-girl review and given it a Best Book. No doubt about it.

My point. Ratings are tools but by no means are they the definitive answer. One site will have a reviewer singing a book's praises and giving it a high mark whereas another review site will have it rated much lower.
Are either of those ratings bogus?
The criteria for rating a book is a personal choice based upon what they like or don't like in a book. Both are valid.

I think an author should probably look at the law of averages - the overall tone of all the reviews put together to get the pulse of reader/reviewer opinion.

The only caveat are low ratings based on mentions of editing issues, plot holes, telling narrative instead of active dialogue ... you know, things that really matter. They aren't opinions then, they're commenting on the proficiency of the written form or lack thereof.

At that point I'd have to say that the ratings really matter and should be taken seriously.
At that point, ratings have power.

But for the most part and the majority, I think they are opinion based on the books themselves and how a book made a reader feel. Most do not go into reviewing with an idea of what head hopping is or point of view; they just like to read and escape the daily grind by immersing themselves in a romance book of their choice.

Yeah, there's sometimes reason to rumble about ratings but take them as they come. They aren't a personal reflection on an author or his/her work, just on a reviewer's feelings after reading it. The thing is, the book got read. (was read?) lol - I need an editor too. ;-)

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