And yet, even though indie authors and book reviewers are so inextricable entwined, often times we seem to be speaking two completely different languages.
Take star ratings, for example. To a book reviewer, a star rating can mean one thing while an author can see it as something completely different. Allow me to explain:
5 out of 5 stars
What the book reviewer means: Yep. I loved this book. Great writing, fun characters, epic themes. There were either no issues or only some very small ones. Everyone should read it! Have you read it yet? No? Go read it.
How the author takes it: *gasps* Will you be my new best friend? I love you. You rock. Also, may I compliment you for your amazing taste in reading material? *gives high five*
4 out of 5 stars
What the book reviewer means: I really liked this book. There were one or two issues that bothered me a bit, thus the loss of a star. But I'd read it again and I'd definitely recommend it to people. This story had a lot going for it. Good job!
How the author takes it: Ah. So close. But it's okay. It's okay. 4 stars means they still liked it. Besides, I can see how their critique makes sense. And they had a lot of nice stuff to say, so we're good here.
3 out of 5 stars
What the book reviewer means: This story was just about average. I didn't hate it, didn't love it. There were parts that really didn't work (typos, flat characters, mediocre writing), but there were also bits that I really appreciated (the ideas, the interesting worlds, the message). I'd be hesitant to recommend it to some people, but I also wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it.
How the author takes it: Average?! Average!! Who are you calling average? My writing is NOT average. Right? Right? Oh my gosh. What if it is average? What if this reviewer is right? Oh crap. Oh crap.
*goes and sits in a corner* *gives self a pep talk* Okay, calm down. Just walk it off. Walk it off.
2 out of 5 stars
What the book reviewer means: Meh. There were a few things holding it up and keeping it from being a 1-star, but only a few. I wouldn't read it again or recommend it to anybody else.
How the author takes it:
Who asked you, anyway? You have poor taste. Poor taste, I tell you! Leave now, and never come back! You scruffy looking nerf herder. You could have just not left a review. What did I ever do to you?
1 out of 5 stars
What the book reviewer means: Well this sucked. I wish I hadn't read it.
How the author takes it: *stars cussing under breath* Okay, I've had enough of this! I know my worth. There's absolutely no way I'm a 1-star writer. I hope anyone who sees this review will recognize that it's idiotic. Now where's my ice cream? I need some ice cream. And Netflix. And more ice cream. ICE CREAM. *goes off to think depressed, the-world-is-against-me thoughts while wielding a pint of ice cream and a remote control*
Okay, so maybe not every indie author reacts in these ways. And maybe each book reviewer uses a slightly different rating system. Here's what I'm trying to say:
To you indie authors (or just-starting-out, traditional authors): You're amazing for doing what you're doing. Take the good reviews and rejoice over them, take the critical reviews and use them to improve, and use the mean/stupid ones to grow a thick skin. Try not to overreact, but eat as much of that ice cream as you want to.
To you book reviewers: Thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts. You're what keep indie writers going. Please play nicely, but also tell the truth and give us your intelligent, thought-out critiques. We can take it. And, if we can't, that's our problem. Don't let some half-crazed author or fan hunt you down and make you feel bad.
Now it's your turn: How do you rate books? And how does that compare to how you interpret star ratings when they're given to your own writing?
But, most importantly, how many stars do you give this post? And please don't say 1 out of 5. I don't have any ice cream on hand.
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