Rating Books

Camy here! Rating books is something I’m never very happy about doing because it just doesn’t seem nice. Someone put many hours into each book and a rating seems to cheapen that effort.

Also, I know all readers are different, and just because I didn’t like a book doesn’t mean another reader won’t, either.

That’s why I really don’t mind if I get 1, 2, 3 star ratings on Amazon and BN.com, because I know my books aren’t going to appeal to all readers. I understand that and accept it as a necessary fact of the career I’ve chosen as an author.

However, I have to admit that rating books can be useful as a quick guide to how I felt about a book I read, especially when I go back to refresh my memory.

It’s also helpful to see the trends of how I liked certain authors. If all the books I’ve read by an author have good ratings, then the author goes on my auto-buy list.

I was thinking about my ratings the other day and thought it would be good for me (and my declining capacity to remember anything) to write down what my ratings mean.

So here’s what I figured out my book ratings to mean:

1-star: Didn’t finish the book because I either didn’t like several elements of it, had problems relating to/liking the characters, or had issues with the plot.

2-stars: Book had at least one positive thing about it that I liked, but later I wasn’t interested enough to finish the book.

3-stars: I finished the book, but there were elements of it I didn’t like, or at least one of the characters was hard to sympathize with, or there were parts of the plot that didn’t make logical sense to me.

4-stars: I finished the book and mostly enjoyed it, although there might have been things about the plot, characters, or writing style I didn’t particularly like.

5-stars: I finished the book and enjoyed it. There might have been one or two things I didn’t quite like, but on a whole the book was entertaining and I liked it.

There are some 5-star books that I absolutely loved, but rather than give a 6-star rating or reserving the 5-star rating for those “perfect” books, I simply rave about the book in the comments section of my book catalogue (I use Booxter, which has a virtual “card” of information about each book I’ve read or have, and there’s a comments section where I talk about what I thought of the book).

So how about you? How do you rate books?

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About Camy Tang/Camille Elliot

Camy writes romantic suspense as Camy Tang and Regency romance as USA Today bestselling author Camille Elliot. She is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of the Sunday worship teams. Visit her websites at http://www.camytang.com and http://www.camilleelliot.com to read free short stories and subscribe to her quarterly newsletter.
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6 Responses to Rating Books

  1. Judy DV says:

    Most of my ratings will show 4 & 5 stars. I don’t always rate them for my personal feelings. If it’s a good book that is written well and a good story line then I rate it on that. I don’t want to take away from an author’s hard work by rating the book on my own preferences. If the book was really bad I just don’t leave a review. That is just my personal way of rating.

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    • camytang says:

      I also don’t leave reviews if the book was only a 1 or 2 star read for me. Many times, it just means that I didn’t personally care for something about the book, which means someone else might love it, so I don’t leave a bad review so I don’t impact other people. Plus I think a bad review can invalidate the time and effort an author has put into a book. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it doesn’t resonate with other people.

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  2. Dearest in Christ,
    rating books is a truly complex undertaking for me. I try very hard to be open-minded, to appreciate the author’s views, hours of work and to compare similar books. One learns very quickly, even when studying History, that viewpoint is a critical part of any work. I don’t necessarily have to enjoy a book purely for its entertaining qualities. I enjoy books that make me think, that even challenge my beliefs at time. I also enjoy good imagination and the ability to help the reader imagine along with the author. When reading books for professional review there are certain standards that I measure each book – regardless of genre. If the author states that the purpose of a book is to help folks understand the language of trees, but only mentions trees in the first chapter then writes about how flower is made or how smoking is bad, etc. then the book missed the mark – even though it may be interesting. Additionally, I look at literary merit. That is, is the book well written according to the loose standards of its genre and does it add to the vitality of literature. Then there is the question of whether the book worth recommending to others. These are really a starting point for a diversity of thoughts and reactions to a particular. If the book is to be measured against a pseudo-industry standard, does it possess credibility. Of course there is so much more and a big part of that is our background and worldview. In the finally tally I try to give credit where credit is due as honestly and expressively as I can. If I( have difficulty with a book I try to contact the author before I even consider posting my review. Sometimes I have totally missed the purpose of a book or failed to understand what I have read. However, we each do the best we can with the tools we are given.

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    • camytang says:

      That’s a good idea, to contact the author before you post the review! I usually just don’t post the review because I don’t feel it adds to anyone’s enjoyment of a book just because it didn’t happen to resonate with me.

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  3. hollymag says:

    Thanks for sharing this Camy! I’ve struggled often on giving ratings. I tend to reserve “5 Stars” for those books that just WOWED! me and 4 stars for those that were really, really good. I’ve only given 1 or 2 stars a couple of times. In one situation, I read the other reviews for the book where most people loved it. I concluded that it just didn’t fit me but others loved it. It’s a fine line between being honest with readers and fair to authors. I always try to find something that people might enjoy about the story even if I don’t like it.
    I really appreciate what you said here.

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