Why a book should RARELY get rated five-stars

Are you, maybe, a little discouraged because your magnum opus didn’t get a five star review? I’ve been there. . .recently.

I know writers who have WAY more 5-star reviews on Amazon than I do. It’s fantastic for them, and honestly, there’s no envy or jealousy on my part. I thrive of the challenge of striving for perfection, knowing I’ll never reach it, but in trying, I get closer every time.

Don’t get me wrong; perfect scores are nice! I was in graduate school before I ever received straight-A’s, and I worked hard for them. Those scores were objective. Five star reviews are subjective — totally up to the reviewer and his/her preferences. Though I work just as hard, if not harder, at my writing as I did for Dr. Axelrod at Temple University, the results aren’t the same. And that’s okay.

For a work to deserve that kind of praise, I think it needs to be almost transcendent. Do you eat or read that book? Is it good enough to make you think about it? Does it haunt your thoughts enough for you to want to get back to it ASAP? For several Amazon book reviews I’ve come across, the answer is no — which is why that rating is thrown around a little too loosely.

In one of my Facebook discussion groups, we talked about this subject. A few of the members do what I do — go to the three-star ratings and below to see what they said. If a book lacks ratings below five stars, I raise an eyebrow. Nobody, not even legacy published authors, can please everyone. If you can, please bottle it and sell it — I’ll be among the first in line.

For me, the indie author, word-of-mouth is crucial to my survival, so any rating I receive is a feather in my cap. My first one was well-balanced, and, like with most reviews, you can separate the wheat from the chaff.

What’s YOUR opinion on book reviews?

4 thoughts on “Why a book should RARELY get rated five-stars

  1. I feel there are five-star books out there, and I’ve read and reviewed them. I’ve also had “real” reviewers review my novels and rate them five stars, but like you said, it’s subjective and depends upon the reviewer’s taste. I don’t feel my novel deserves a lower rating because someone reviewed it who didn’t want to read a Christian novel. It’s advertised as Christian. I review the type of novels I enjoy reading. If I reviewed genres I didn’t like, I’d probably be inclined to rate them lower, too. Dogwood by Chris Fabry, a Christian novel, is five-stars, so is Lynn Austin’s All She Ever Wanted. Those are books I remember long after closing the page. Those are the books that should get five stars, deep novels, thought-provoking novels that stay with you after you close the cover. I doubt there’s really any such thing as a perfect book. How could there be, when no one is perfect? How can you turn out perfect when you’re not perfect. I graduated with honors as an undergrad and with my master’s degree, I had a 4.0. I studied Christian writing under Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and have completed the apprentice and journeyman levels. Lots of work, I promise you. I’ve studied writing under Long Ridge Writers Group. I’ve taken creative writing and journalism in college. I’ve studied writing with American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) where I probably learned as much or more. I’ve read how-to books by great writers who have published best sellers. I continue to strive and hone my skills as all serious writers do because even the best-selling authors will tell you, practice helps and the more you write, the better you get and reading and studying best-selling authors will help you. I’ve read Karen Kingsbury because she’s a Christian best-selling author. I’ve read best-seller Nicholas Sparks, and I love his style. I’ve read Jerry B. Jenkins and love his novels. I’ve read and studied with some of the best. Christian Writers Guild mentor Eva Marie Everson has published Christian novels and is writing a movie. The point is, I’m still not perfect and don’t claim to be, but my novel may have touched someone (it did a reader a week ago) and for that particular reader and reviewer, maybe my novel was five-star in their book. I’ve had novels I’ve felt that way about by many other authors. Michelle Sutton’s Danger at the Door was five-star in my book. Anybody can find something wrong with someone’s book so that it’s not perfect, but that doesn’t mean some books don’t deserve a five-star rating. I don’t feel that only best-selling authors deserve five-star ratings. In fact, many get threes and once in a while, someone even gives them a two, but when you look at their reviews, you see how many ratings they got of each. I read the reviews and when I see one where a book received a low rating because it wasn’t that person’s genre or taste, I don’t think it’s fair, or when someone who doesn’t like Christian writing rates a Christian book lower. If a book is one you honestly loved, and it touched your heart, and you remember it after closing the cover, I feel it deserves a five unless it’s full of mistakes in formatting and typos, grammar, etc. Some books are good books, but they don’t stay with me like. Those are not fives to me. It has to stay with me or has to have something about it that made me rate it a five. For example, Michelle’s Danger at the Door was the first novel I ever read by her, but I’ll always remember that book just as I’ll always remember Chris Fabry’s Dogwood, Lynn Austin’s novel, and Nicholas Spark’s The Notebook. That doesn’t necessarily mean that these books are perfect. I’m sure that the writers I studied under who are great critiquers would find something, but I loved them, so they’re fives in my book, and they always will be. I don’t judge and review a novel like I’m critiquing it in my ACFW group. I read for the overall affect and the story, what it leaves behind, the theme, the message, the takeaway. All Christian writing should have a takeaway. If I love a book, I’ll rate it a five. If I think it’s good, a four, okay a three, better than okay, 3.5. If I can’t give a book those ratings, I usually don’t review them at all. Mom always said if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. You reap what you sow. My opinion. Blessings, BJ

  2. By the way, the best-selling writers I know of will say they’re still honing their craft and a good writer, even a best-selling one always will because there’s always room for improvement.

    1. Thanks for your comments, BJ. All good points! I completely agree; there’s no such thing as perfection. There is such as thing as really, really, REALLY good, which was my point 🙂

  3. I’ll tell you how I rate books.

    5 stars – means I wanted to call a friend to talk about the book, or I did in fact do that since I loved it so much. Couldn’t stop reading.

    4 stars – good but not one I’d keep on my shelf. May be well written, but maybe not memorable or exciting enough to make me think about it after I finish.

    3 stars – I finished it. Had it’s good and not so great points, but hey, I finished it, right?

    2 stars – couldn’t finish it, but not necessarily bad writing. Just not interesting enough to keep my attention or make me care. My not be a genre I’m fond of either. I won’t even try to finish it.

    1 star – there were some things i truly disliked enough to warn people about.

    and let’s face it…. I start about fifty books each year that I never finish for one reason or another. Those I don’t rate at all.

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