Opinion Matters: 5 Star Rating Your Own Book

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the whole notion of an author star rating and/or reviewing their own books. As a book reviewer, I not only write a lot of reviews, but I read a lot of them too. I’m interested to know what other people think about the books I’m reading, and sometimes, reviews are so well written, sitting down for a while with a cuppa and Goodreads open can be quite relaxing, as well as entertaining. It’s also a part of my role as Historical Fiction Editor for The Australian Women Writers Challenge, reading reviews so I can write a monthly editorial roundup. I often get carried away and keep reading beyond those written by our challenge participants, which is how I’ve come to notice this trend.

The most common is the five star review of an author’s own book. Of course, Goodreads identifies this and puts ‘review from the author’ in brackets, which I’m very glad for. A variation on this is those authors who have multiple Goodreads profiles and star rate their own book more than once under their various profiles. It’s still quite obvious it’s them, there’s always a tell tale sign linking the person as the author of the book in question, even if they think there isn’t, trust me, I can tell.

Some authors go a step further and actually write some commentary about the book in the review field. I’ve seen quite varied messages here that range from thank you’s for purchasing, requests for reviews – I know! A request for a review within a review! – comments on an aspect of the book, and even, wait for it, arguments at large as to why some of the reviews listed below are wrong and should be ignored.

 

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Ummm…ok then…I’m totally taking you seriously now as an author.

Said no one ever.

Clearly, as you might have guessed by now, just by the mere fact I’m writing this post, that I think star rating your own book is very poor form. Reviewing your own book is worse. And I’m coming at this in all seriousness now, as a reader and as a reviewer.

You risk damaging your reputation by doing this. You risk looking unprofessional. You risk your credibility. You risk earning readers. And if you’re thinking now of popping over and adjusting the five stars down to four, don’t! Because this is worse. Who rates their own work less than five stars? See the dilemma? Just delete it. Let other readers star rate. Let other readers write up the reviews. And if the rating is less than you want, chalk it up to experience. It happens to all authors. If someone writes a review you don’t like, don’t reply. Don’t write a review yourself to counter theirs. Just move on.

 

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Really. It’s not a good look.

This is of course my own opinion, which is quite allowed here, on my own blog. I’d love to know your thoughts on this matter. I promise I won’t review your review in the comments below with a comment from another person that is really me trying not to appear as me for the purposes of review.

Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Enjoy your evening!

 

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18 thoughts on “Opinion Matters: 5 Star Rating Your Own Book

  1. Absolutely, it’s poor form, I agree Theresa. I’d say it’s unethical. I expect people to disclose any issues that might be deemed to sway their opinion – whether or not that issue does sway the opinion. I believe you have to be SEEN to be doing the right thing as well as doing it. So, for every review I do for a book that’s been sent to me, I note that at the end of the review. I always give bibliographic details about the book at the end, and if it’s a review copy I add that at the end.

    This issue comes up on places like Trip Advisor where owners or families of owners write highly positive reviews of a business, and you have no idea. Sometimes too those same people write really negative reviews of a competitor. Disgusting behaviour. When I use Trip Advisor, which I do a lot, I read many reviews to try to gauge common threads. Those threads will usually reassure me that the overall assessment is valid but you never know of course whether the system has been stacked.

    And Wikipedia. Editors/admins there looks for articles that sound like they are written by people about themselves or their own product, and they slap a notice on the article questioning its neutrality.

    So, you know how I feel on this issue. I don’t think authors should review or rate their own books. But, to do so without disclosing that they are reviewing/rating their own book is to my mind completely unethical and it would take a lot to make me want to read that author again. Their close family – partners, parents, siblings – should also disclose.

    However, if authors want to comment on their own books, describe the genesis, background research, whatever is relevant, and/or share other reviews etc – usually on their own website or blog – that’s OK. We know it’s their site/blog, and they make clear what it is they’re doing.

    I’ve gone on haven’t I?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you did, because you’re bang on. A friend at work mentioned similar feelings about Trip Advisor when we were discussing this at work. Transparency needs to exist for credibility and like you, if a copy of a book I am reviewing was given to me for that purpose, I state it and from whom it was given. I guess an author could argue that their rating and/or review is clearly from them because their name and picture is there, BUT, star ratings are averaged and by giving themselves those 5 stars, once, twice, however many times via their grandmother’s dog and their kids who have profiles for this only purpose, they are stacking the odds in their favour. And that’s what I don’t approve of. It’s just not legitimate and as you’ve pointed out, entirely unethical.

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      • Oh yes, the star ratings (as in Trip Advisor too) can so skew things. I don’t much like numerical ratings for that reason, and always read the text. If a high star rating attracts me, I don’t rely on that alone. Maybe those people who gave a high rating like things I don’t. Their written text will usually give me a sense of that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I must admit, I’m not a fan numerical ratings either. I tend to feel so much more can be conveyed constructively through words rather than just rating low or high. I’ve been tempted to stop star rating on Goodreads, but then I feel bad for the authors of truly fabulous books that deserve 5 stars so I just keep on rating because the stars increase the chances of exposure.

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  2. I have soooo toyed with the idea of rating my own novels – as an act of defiance more than anything else. But it’s always seemed just a dag step too far. A few weeks ago, though, I accidentally rated one of my books – must have hovered a finger over the rating. Naturally, I went high – I gave it a two-star! It then took me ages to figure out how to wipe them off again… Lesson for author me: stay off Goodreads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Two stars!! 😁 That’s going too far the opposite way.
      In all seriousness though, all of my books have only a few ratings, and while it would be marvelous to have more, you’re right, definitely a dag step too far. I’m glad you figured out how to take those two stars down. I don’t approve of your novels being rated at two stars!

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      • I actually took all my stars down. That sounds so dramatic, doesn’t it? I had a bit of a moral crisis over rating others’ work, and so haphazardly as I had done, and thought I should wipe the whole slate clean – either write a review or say nothing at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not really as dramatic as you might think…like I mentioned above to whisperinggums, numerical/star rating doesn’t sit well with me and I often think of ditching it. Some books are so obviously 5 stars, but sometimes I really like a book but had a few issues. Is it no longer excellent? Should it be 4? 3 seems harsh, but is 4 misleading? I overthink it to the point where ditching stars might be a good idea for me.

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  3. If I rated my own books, they would not all be 5-stars – because just like everyone else, I like some books by an author (even when it’s me) more than other books by the same author. I’ll tell anyone who asks me which of my books are my favourites – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the ones readers prefer. I therefore think it’s best to stay the hell out of it lest I lead someone astray.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good policy! Imagine how confusing it could become if you started to rate all of your books against each other with different ratings! 😁
      Seriously though, not all authors are as capable of evaluating their own work in the manner you do. And, if someone asks an author for a recommendation, even on Goodreads in that ‘ask the author section’, I don’t have a problem with them answering and detailing the finer points of each book, because that’s the right section for it. Maybe that’s underutilised as a Goodreads feature. Ratings though, definitely for readers only.

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  4. I rated all my books 5 stars on Goodreads. I figured it was transparent because Goodreads points out it’s a review from the author and I’m proud of my books. If I don’t live my own book, why should anyone else?

    Amazon keeps sending me emails to rate my own books because I bought them. They don’t let thou rate your own books.

    I hate the idea of multiple profiles rating or writing a gushing review about yourself because that’s dishonest but I don’t have a problem with star rating.

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    • I do see your point about loving your own book, and yes, the transparency is there to a certain degree because Goodreads discloses this (and clearly, you’re not faking profiles!), BUT your 5 stars skews the honesty. One could argue though that say you got your husband to rate it instead, same average is generated but without your name against the star, so really, is this any different? Truly, for legitimacy and transparency, yourself and family ratings are equally as bad as each other. I see your point, but still think you should keep away from rating yourself, because it really does have the opposite effect. This post is generating some vibrant commentary within a blog group I posted it to, and in the spirit of transparency, no one is commenting favourably towards authors who rate themselves.

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  5. I have seen a few books ratted by the author lately, and it just causes me to roll my eyes. I mean I’m happy they think there book is worth the 5 starts, but it’s not really a true indication for me of what the book it’s like. It sometimes puts me off reading it.

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  6. If you have a Reader’s Favorite review, the only way to put it on Goodreads is via the author’s login, so it shows as an “author review” when this is not the case. Problematic, but a disclaimer at the beginning helps.

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    • What’s a reader’s favourite review? Is this where you might, as an author, be putting a review you like up on Goodreads by a reviewer who is not on Goodreads themselves? I haven’t come across this, but yes, as you point out, a disclaimer at the beginning would be helpful. Otherwise it would come off as you reviewing yourself, I imagine. But this probably doesn’t account for star ratings, would you think?

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