Friday, August 24, 2012

Why I Don't Like Five Star Reviews

So, having read the title of this post, as an author you must be thinking I am out of my mind.  Not liking five-star reviews?  Is this bitch kidding?  EVERYONE wants a five-star review!  This is heresy!  Stone her!
Okay, okay, before you drag out the torture table, let me explain:  it's not that I don't want five star reviews, it's more that I am afraid of them.

If I was a fledgling actress nominated for and winning an Academy Award, I'm sure I would have the same crisis of faith.  And make no mistake, it IS about faith.  I think that actress and I would have the same fears, actually.  Namely, that we would never be able to top the excellence, the perfection, the sheer genius that caused the award to be given on her first film. Too many five stars would scare me.

As an author, I have received my share of five-stars.  And since that did happen, I feel as though I am qualified to make these statements.  I am grateful for every one, but here's what frightens me:  To me, the five-star review is the pinnacle of the ratings scale.  So, if I get a fiver, where do I go from there?  Is there six stars?  Seven? Eight?  No.  That's it.  Five is the top.  So my true fear is that too many of them is going to be a slippery slope into complacency.  Maybe not right away, because I seem to have, so far, an endless supply of story ideas and notes, but someday.  Someday, I fear I may sit back on the sofa and breathe out slowly, wondering where else can I go?  Wondering is it worth it to try?

I, personally, LOVE a four star review.  Now this, I can sink my teeth in!  This means you loved it, but you can see where I might have taken it farther.  A four-topper guarantees you liked me enough to purchase my next book, and my next one.  Then, when I have reached the level of success and recognition I only now dream of, then you can lather me with those fivers.  Oh, please do.  Please, please do.

I also appreciate a well-researched and itemized three star review.  This gives me somewhere specific to go. Up.  I can strive for something, and as an artist, that's what I am always doing.  Striving, perfecting, vowing to achieve.

Interestingly enough, in American literature, one's descent into madness is most often preceded by unhealthy obsession.  Obsession over a person, a love, real or imagined, and, Dear Authors, over an ideal.  A willingness to slave and grieve and COMMIT to one thing so totally, so completely, that you will submit yourself to review and comment and critique, by people we don't know and are killing ourselves to impress..  Oh...wait a minute....isn't that what we as authors do?   But, I digress.

Back to the five stars.  I appreciate them, I covet them, yes, maybe I do even like them.  But, I'll be damned if I'm going to let them make me complacent.  Because my intent with my writing is to get better, to correct my mistakes, to tighten my wording and color my descriptions.  And with every book, my intent is to draw my reader in deeper and deeper until the characters become a part of them.

I have a book coming out two weeks from today.  It's my seventh one.  Waterdancer, a YA paranormal, is being released by Musa Publishing.  Check it out and let me I going in the right direction?


  1. You are SO right about the 5-star reviews. Oh, but to get a lower starred review would be heaven

  2. I can understand your pov, and I do give out more 4s than 5s (I have to REALLY love it and think it's amazing for a 5), but I still love giving and getting 5s. I always hope for a 5. I'm glad you see the value in a 3, especially one with an explanation. And maybe on Amazon and Goodreads and Smashwords, there is a max of 5, but several of the book review blogs I follow offer a 6th star (or tree, or chess piece, or bitten book, or whatever) for those books that are simply, uncategorically exceptional. So, better than a five is possible, just like on a 10-scale, people often want to give an 11. But, just as on a 10-scale, anything at or above the midway point should be viewed as good and (hopefully) offer as inspiration (and information) to help the writer strive for that 11 (or 10, or 6, or 5).

    1. I really appreciated this reply, Sammi Jean. It was illuminating hearing from a reviewer about this topic. I totally understand what you said, and thank you for saying it!

  3. Excellent post, Samantha. Somehow, I don't think you will ever become complacent about your writing. You're too good to allow that to happen.:)