I’ll just put it out there – authors want positive reviews. The way Amazon is set up, if you get a negative review, your book falls further into obscurity. It’s not like Netflix where a lot depends on the elements of the story and the viewer’s own preferences; Amazon has this flat, non-fluid star scale where people can rate something a 1 because “Garr the paperback isn’t out yet!!” or anything equally as stupid. On the flip side, because Amazon is set up like that, some reviewers fear push-back for pointing out actual flaws in a book. It’d be like pointing out that Twilight had no real plot and being sentenced to live in social exile.
I don’t do quid pro quo rating, i.e., if you give my book a 4 or 5 star rating, I’ll return the favor exactly. If you think one of my books is a 5-star book and I think one of yours is a 3-star book, I’m not going to lie to you about that, but I will give you the opportunity to work on any errors before I finish reviewing. In most cases, a 3-star book really just needs for you to run spell check and/or to review a couple of confusing sections.
If I cite any particular issue with a book and you’d like to receive a higher rating, please send me an email with an updated PDF after correcting some of those issues and I will absolutely consider appending my review and changing the star-rating on all applicable sites.
Here is a breakdown of what the star ratings mean to me. You will likely already know what star-rating I would give your book by reading the descriptions below.
1-star: Consumer Safety Warning
- The characters are lifted directly from another author’s work without permission, have no decipherable differences, or are so poorly developed that it is totally unclear how many characters there are or which character is which.
- The plot is either lifted directly from another author’s work or is completely undecipherable.
- The author’s purpose is either totally incoherent or is incredibly misleading as far as this book is concerned.
2-star: Consumer Safety Concern – Very Poor Quality
- The characters are extremely similar to another author’s work in a way that cannot be considered parody, have no decipherable differences, or are poorly developed to the point of being very confusing.
- The plot is either extremely similar to another author’s work in a way that cannot be considered parody or is so poorly developed that it is difficult to follow.
- The author’s purpose might be completely mismatched with the story or be so unclear in the telling of the story that it was significantly distracting.
3-star: Good, but needs improvement
- The characters are generally solid and distinct, but some may be underdeveloped or the dialogue may not always be believable. There may even be some discrepancies at points in character development.
- The plot is generally solid, but there may be some plot holes that are not accounted for. The plot may be generally clear, but parts could be confusing and need clarification.
- The author’s purpose is clear and generally reflected in the story, but there may be some discrepancies or contradictions that are noticeable.
4-star: Great and has only minor issues
- Most of the characters have solid and distinct personalities. Some may not be entirely believable or some of the dialogue may not be entirely believable.
- The plot is generally solid, but may have some minor gaps that are not accounted for. The plot is still clear and holds up under scrutiny.
- The author’s purpose is clear and is supported, for the most part, by the story.
5-star: Great and has has virtually no issues
- Characters have solid, distinct personalities that reflect actual people
- The plot is solid; there are virtually no gaps that are unaccounted for
- The author’s purpose is clear and lines up with what the story delivers