Ratings and Reviews – What do they mean?

As a writer, I know the importance of reviews and ratings on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. They are becoming the marketing lifeblood of published authors. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, and therefore doing a lot of reviewing. I like to do my bit to support authors since I intend to become one. While I quite enjoy sharing my thoughts about a book, when it comes to giving a rating, I pause. How can you really summarise all your thoughts, opinions and emotions regarding a book down to a single-digit numerical value? It just doesn’t seem to do it justice. I don’t want people to judge my opinion of a book from a number, I want them to judge it by what I say, good and bad.

There are times when I have rated a book slightly lower because it didn’t fall into my favourite genre, even though it was good and I enjoyed it – after all, shouldn’t your highest ratings be reserved for your absolute favourite books? I have given a lot of 4 and 5 ratings recently and I start to feel that this shouldn’t be the case. If I rate all these books the same then do the ratings really mean anything? All these thoughts have been brewing in my mind.

Today I read an article (Amazon Reader Reviews: 12 Things Everybody and His Grandmother Needs to Know) by Anne R. Allen which changed all of that. In this article, Anne writes “It’s not about you”. This one sentence has revolutionised the way I view reviews and ratings on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. She is right, it’s not about me it’s about the book. It’s not even about whether I enjoyed it, it’s about how good a book it was.

Anne’s article highlights some other interesting tidbits that you may not have known, about how Amazon ratings work, and how the site interprets the numbers.

This has relieved me of a lot of ‘rating anxiety’ and freed me to say that a book is good when I think that it is.

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About Adam Collings

Adam Collings is a writer of speculative fiction who works as a software engineer during the day. He lives in Tasmania, Australia with his wife and two children. Adam is currently working on a science fiction novel.
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2 Responses to Ratings and Reviews – What do they mean?

  1. I thought Anne’s article was brilliant too! :)

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