When you read a book to review, how much of the book outside of the actual text do you take in? You won’t give a different rating of a book based on it’s cover, right?
What about where it comes from? Consider; how do individual ratings affect a self-published (Self-Pub) or Indie novel different than if it were published through the Big 5? Or, if there was diverse, and non-harmful, content?
I originally saw this post topic on Jen’s blog The BookAvid, which is no longer up and running, but I still wanted to credit.
When I think of rating a book based on where it came from, I get a little uncomfortable. Because, in my personal opinion, books should be rated on what they’re about, not where they came from. But, say I really disliked this one self-pubbed novel. Think, disliked to the one-star amount rating. Is it still right to give that self-pubbed novel one star? In some ways, it is. In other ways, no.
Giving a one-star review and rant can effect a big-5 book’s selling, but do you know what it could do to a self-pubbed book? If enough of a book gets out, I’ve seen books crash and burn over a single to a few reviews. Doesn’t matter if it’s big-5 or self-p. The difference is that a big-5 seller can easily recover. They’ve got a standing, they’ve got a platform, especially if they got to publish a book through the big-5. A self-pubbed, on the other hand, doesn’t have a standing, and probably won’t have a platform unless they’re well known on social media.
Reviews can literally make or break books, even more so with smaller or self-pubbed books. Because that’s just how it works: less reviews mean that the present reviews have more sway, because that’s all that people will see on sites like Goodreads or Amazon. A lot of people look at the first few reviews or the average rating when deciding to read something, and when they see that the few people who have read it rated it low, they’ll assume that it’s not worth it–even if it’s a fairly decent novel, but not up to the standards people are used to from the big-5. Which, also isn’t fair because most indie or self-pubbed people don’t have legions of editors and publicists and what-not to help them get their book out there. Comparing these books to big-5 would be completely unfair.
The only time I would rate an indie or self-pubbed book below 3 stars is if I found it problematic or harmful. I’ve also rarely rated an indie or self-pub book below three stars for it’s quality alone. For some reason, indie and self-p books often better in quality than big-5, but that’s just my own opinion.
Where does diversity tie into this?
If a book features rep that isn’t seen as much, like asexual or pansexual, rating it low has the same affects as above. It shows low ratings for no reason other than the reader’s personal opinions, with no thought as to how the rep could help someone. Rating a book below three stars with no regard to how other people might react shows an ignorance on your part of whats going around you.
I also agree with the side that says you should just rate books what they deserved. It’s not honest, and it’s conflating the rating on what could actually be a horrible book.