Thursday, June 27, 2013

What's In a Star?

I never gave much thought to reviews until I became a published author. I know from TV shows such as “Smash” that on Broadway reviews make or break a performance in an instant. Book reviews are not quite as immediate and poignant, but they do have their own value.

I was raised to believe the following: (or at least I was told to believe this)

It’s one of those quotes or sayings I grew up with but never exactly agreed. As a young child and teenager, I could get my feelings hurt in a blink of an eye. I had yet to learn, nor did I for many years, how to laugh at myself. Once I did, I realized I can be pretty funny. Life got a lot lighter, but to this day hurtful words can cut and hurt as much as a dull knife. I have a story to tell about me and knives…but that’s for another day. And some of you will know what I’m talking about (I believe I can hear some chuckles).

How people rate a book with the 5 star system is, in my opinion, highly subjective. For example, I can watch a movie and not really be able to give it “a thumbs up” which might result in a 2-star rating. Why? Was it my mood? Did I have to pay bills that day? (always a bummer). Or did I have a bad dream the night before that seemed so real and disturbing it stayed with me throughout the day? My point is, I can watch that same movie at a later date and have a completely different opinion (and star rating). 

I’ve been fortunate to have some truly heart-warming, moving 5 star reviews on Amazon for Saving Gracie. In fact, at this time I have 44 reviews with an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars which brings a smile to my face. I’ve heard more than once a writer needs a thick skin (picture turtle wax). This I do not have. I read my one 1 star review and pouted for days. Although thrilled by the many 5 star reviews…guess which one affected me the most? 

Guess that’s my nature, but I’m not satisfied with that particular quirk of mine, so I’m working on it. My shell isn’t as paper-thin as it used to be, but I’m still applying coats of turtle wax on a regular basis. I also don’t read reviews. Not anymore. That’s Rich’s job and he’ll let me know when a good one comes along and knows by now not to mention the bad ones. 

I believe no one sets out to write a bad book. Too much labor of love has to be put into a story and I’ve decided that just because a book or a movie isn’t to my liking doesn’t mean it’s bad. I’ve heard people say, “That book/movie is horrible. Don’t waste your time.” Once again, subjective. I know of several instances I would have given a particular movie or book an easy 5 star-rating while someone else might respond with, “Well, it’s cute.” Cute, in my opinion, means okay and maybe a 3 star-rating (which is still better than 1). I had one reviewer give me a 4-star review, really liked Saving Gracie, but deducted a point for typos. Totally out of my control but still reflects how she hands out stars.

At this point in my life, I think before I write a review.

Words are powerful...and hurtful.


  1. Good post, Terry! As a rule, if I don't like a book, I don't post a review, except for major big authors. I guess it's easier to be honest with people who don't give a rip. I kind of doubt Danielle Steele will be distraught over the 2 stars I gave her, but a new author might, so I don't write anything negative about them. Probably a strange way to look at things, but that's just how I do it. :)

    1. And I've got your back and appreciate your comment. If I was Danielle Steel...or (smile) J. K. Rowling, I doubt I'd even blink over a bad review.

      I'm going to keep your rule in mind...if I don't like a book, I don't post a review...except for the major authors:)

      Thanks Celeste!