Saturday, October 18, 2014

It's Full Of Stars

Last week I read where a writer was upset they'd only received a 3 star rating for a novel on Goodreads.

I love Goodreads. It's a fun site, and I use it as a guide when I'm researching books to read. But I also consider it to be wildly inaccurate at the same time.

Let's say a local author with a pretty good debut gets 5 stars. That's as high as the rating system goes. Really? It's so good that it can be compared with the greatest literature of our time?

Okay, so we liked the book, enjoyed it enough to consider buying the next offering. But 5 stars is too high, so we drop it down to 4.

Fair enough. Let's jump over to IMDB and check out some of our favourite TV shows. Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, West Wing - all sitting between 7.5 and 8.5. Hmm, so they're averaging (quick maths conversion) 4 stars.

Is our friend's debut as good as those?  To be honest, no. Those shows are amazing. Alright, so we have to drop it to 3 stars, if we're going to be fair. But now that's not looking so good. It's average. We don't love 3 stars, we think it's an OK rating reflecting an OK read.

We all get a bit hung up on ratings these days. And with good reason. With the increasing onus on authors to promote their own work, reviews and ratings seem to be one way to try and stand out above the crowd. These days, unfortunately it seems everything on Goodreads is above average.

I've seen poorly edited, poorly written self-published novels receive 5 stars. I've seen brilliant classics receive 1 star. I know we all have different tastes, but you have to question how much we can trust these reviews and ratings.

I've been fortunate enough to receive some 5 star ratings for my stories. (And no, it wasn't from my Mum - they were from strangers and even professional reviewers.) They made me very happy indeed, but I don't think I would compare my writing, which I consider to be still developing, to some of the all time greats.

Not yet anyway.

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