author C.C.Cole's blog

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On Four and Five Star Reviews

One of the many dreams of all new authors is for our books to get great reviews.  They help our confidence, encourage us to keep going, and regarding sales, they do help; or the other way around is, without favorable reviews our books are truly a hard sell. 

When I review book from the many talented new authors, I’m happy to give four and five star reviews.  But I think why do I give one story four stars and another five?  If I think it’s good enough for four, why not five? 

As I ponder this question, I don’t have simple answer.  To me, the fifth star is more subjective.  Meaning, the story goes from “very good” to “great.”  I still recommend four-star reviews to readers, and sometimes pick up a book to re-read I have four stars.  

An example of the subjectivity is the book I reviewed “Orange Petals in a Storm” by Niamh Clune.  When I gave it four stars and saw almost every other reviewer gave it five, I thought, “What did I miss?  Did I read too fast?  Am I dense?” (probably) After thinking about it for a while, I realized it’s the way the story is carried in this beautiful novel: I’m a dialogue reader and writer.  Niamh writes incredible prose.  I loved it, but my taste is a more dialogue-driven story.  Nothing makes me right and the other reviewers wrong, or vice-versa.

Not every four-star review I’ve given is prose-over-dialogue, and I can’t explain the difference.  Usually there’s “something” that the story leaves me with makes me raise the fifth star.  But it’s hardly a negative to the four-stars; instead it’s a positive to the five stars. 

New authors, when you get four-star reviews, it’s still a great review.   I know I appreciate the ones I get.  And if your book gets four stars from one reviewer, it will probably get five from others, three from others, and there’s probably a “non-audience” reviewer to throw in a one-or-two star rating (non-audience readers’ being a common reason for low critiques).  Every writer that writes about reviews says they’re subjective, and I agree.  So write great work, find your audience, and the four and five stars will follow.

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