Authors appreciate your honest reviews. They appreciate you talking about their book, recommending it to others, tweeting about it, blogging about it, sharing on Facebook, signing up to mailing lists and groups, including it in lists. In fact, if you love books the best thing you can do for your favourite authors is to talk about their books, online, in person, at events. Hell, chisel your words into blocks of stone and plant them by the roadside if all else fails.
So what I’m saying is that we, as authors, value your opinions, dear reader, and are happy when you share them.
And there are plenty of places to share them… but today I want to talk about Goodreads. I like Goodreads. I’ve thoroughly bought into it. I’ve entered a load of my books and every book I read I blog on my LiveJournal blog and transfer the resulting review to Goodreads. It’s a way for me to remember what I’ve read and to engage with others. I like talking about books.
But there’s a small snag on Goodreads – and it is only small – which I thought I should bring to your attention, to whit… star ratings
I just read a review of Charlie Stross’ first Laundry book on Goodreads and I noticed that though the review was positive the reviewer, an author, hadn’t given it a star rating. I discussed this with another author after my first book came out and she said she was happy to review books on Goodreads, but she didn’t feel it was fair for her – as an author – to give star ratings, however what she hadn’t realised was that not giving a star rating when you review effectively means you’ve given the book zero stars.
I don’t think Goodreads explains this, and I only realised when I added it up. As a very new author, back in November when my first book came out, I had so few starred reviews in the first few weeks that it was obvious the reviews that hadn’t been starred had pulled down my average rating as if they were zeroes (despite the reviews being positive).
(This is not a grumble – there are a lot more reviews on there now. I’m just saying how it came to my notice.)
My feeling is that Goodreads should be asked to display a warning that says: Please note any review without a star rating effectively counts as a zero stars review. This would actually be a bonus to some folks who begin reviews with: “I’d like to give this book no stars at all…” You can actually do that.
My point is, however, that it would be useful for people to know that declining to give stars at all is the same as awarding zero out of five to a book you may have quite liked.