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Discussing Book Reviews

For today’s blog, since I’ve been out of it a bit lately, I’ve decided to do a little topical discussion. No, you don’t have to put it on your skin. In fact, what I want to talk about is book reviews, particularly a question that pops up quite often.

What should be considered a ‘good’ review score?

I’ve seen this discussion across the web in various author forums in which I participate. Mostly it seems to surface when books seen as particularly poorly written (by fellow authors in the writing community) receive excellent 5 star reviews across the board.  I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time, trying to get a grasp on how I review books as a reader and how I expect people to review my own work as a writer. Before I jump into anything major, here is a review of my recent short story collection, Across The Battlefield:

This is a very quick read. The author uses four scenarios we can relate to along with one dealing with a fictitious scenario. I did enjoy the concept Mr. Busch was pushing for; a glimpse into the men who fight on the front lines and the decisions and emotions they encounter during a battle.

One concept I did enjoy was how each battle was laid out and yes, I was thinking of other wars and battles in each story but was pleasantly surprised when I realized it was different era and place.

I was hoping for a little more insight and activity in each story.

It’s worth the $.99.

This was a 3/5 star review on Amazon for my book. My only other review was a 5 star, so I’m balanced nicely at 4 stars.

I saw the 3 stars when I logged in to check my books sales and my first thought was, ‘Hmm, I wonder why I got only three?’

Which got me to thinking, is three out of five really a bad review? The answer is an emphatic, no. While we, especially in the the USA have been conditioned to view a 3/5 as a 60% and thus a failing grade by educational standards, in reality 3/5 is a good review. Not bad (1/5), OK (2/5), great (4/5) or excellent (5/5). Just good. When I read though the view, I realized, ‘Hey, I totally understand why it’s only three.’ The reader enjoyed the collection but found the length a little paltry. You know what? He’s right, it is short, which is why I only sell it for $ .99.  As I read the review over, I finally realized that as a reader I tend to get away from objectivity when I write a review of a book I really like and that at the end of the day I rarely read work that I don’t want to give a 4 or 5 star, feeling like a 3 is cheating the writer. But as a writer, I value an honest opinion and, more than anything, a truly good review.

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