As a reader, you've probably rated and left reviews on books before. What do those star ratings mean to you? How do you decide what rating to give a book? Here's how I approach them, and I'd love to hear what you do!
I loved the book: it kept me engaged, I read it quickly, and I want to read more. To earn five stars, a book must have good grammar and punctuation, and must do well at showing instead of telling. A few mistakes here and there are okay, as long as they weren't too distracting. In my opinion, a book does not need to be "life-changing" to earn this star rating, but it does measure up to good books in the same genre. If I want to give them 4.5, I always round up not down. Because I'm pretty careful choosing my books, many of the book I read deserve 5 stars.
I liked the book, but a few things preventing me from loving it. Maybe there was a character that got on my nerves, or I didn't love the ending. I also give books four stars if they were brilliantly written but had several grammatical errors that kept pulling me out of the story. Again, if I think it's 3.5, I'll round up to 4. If a book has an overall 4.5 star rating and I give it 4 stars, I am aware that I am bringing down the author's overall rating.
If I keep thinking positively about the story after a few weeks or find myself recommending the book a lot, I may go back and up the rating because it apparently grabbed me more than I realized at the time of the review.
The book was okay. I don't regret reading it, and I might read the next book in the series if it's steeply discounted and I don't have other good books to read, but it's not a book I'd recommend to friends. Books might receive this rating if I hated the ending, if there were glaring grammatical and punctuation errors throughout, or if there was a lot of telling instead of showing.
In my opinion, three stars is not a good star rating for a book. I would count three star as a negative review, because I know that when I buy books, I only buy books that have an overall rating or four stars or more.
I didn't like the book. The story line was was predictable, the characters didn't grow, there was only telling and no showing, or the book had enough grammatical or punctuation errors that it was often difficult to understand what was going on in the story.
I hated the book. The writing was nonsensical, the plot went nowhere, or it read like it was written by someone who barely speaks English. I also give books one star if I hate the main character. If I feel that way, then the author has completely failed in their purpose to get me inside the character's head and explain the motivations for their actions.
When you shouldn't rate a book
There are also times when I pass on writing a review. For instance, if a book isn't a genre I like, I don't feel I should review it as my perception will be colored. If I'm sick, having a terrible day, or dislike the author's politics, I will not write a review because I'm probably not going to be fair. You get the idea.
On a final note, remember that authors are people too. They have feelings. They've put their heart out there on the page, so always make sure your comments are about the book and its plot (no spoilers!) and not an attack on the author personally.
What process do you use to rate books? What does each star rating mean to you? I'd love to hear! Please post in the comments below.
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