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How do you rate a book? Is 5stars ‘perfect’ or just ‘I loved it’? Should most books be an average 3, with 4 and 5 the exception and not the rule?
How we review and rate books, especially across different sites, is interesting and odd. 3 should be average. I suppose that’s true the way a C is supposed to be an average too, but most people strive for A’s (and some get in trouble for even B’s). Does 5 stars mean perfect, or does it mean A level– 93% and above?
3 stars should be average. Didn’t wow you, but didn’t disappoint. But three stars on a book still make me a little wary. Hell, an average of 4stars makes me wary. I just think ‘why didn’t this get more 5s, what’s wrong with it’ as opposed to ‘this is a pretty good book, but maybe not everyone’s favourite.’
Then there are discrepancies. On Goodreads a 1star means ‘I didn’t like it.’ That’s all. Not ‘this book is the worst pile of shit I’ve seen in my life.’ The worst thing you can possibly say about a book is ‘naw, didn’t like it. (2 stars even means ‘it was ok.’ 2 out of 5 is ok?)
Amazon? Different story. A whole star of difference. ‘I don’t like it’ is 2stars. 1star? I hate it. Literally that’s what it says when you rate something and hover over the one star—I hate it.
Of course neither of these ranks mean much outside of personal preference. I hate it can mean it’s the worst grammatically-error-filled ‘did a cat walk over a typewriter’ pile of paper and ink. Or it can mean the two characters you wanted to get together haven’t done so. Or nothing to do with the book at all and the file was odd on your kindle.
Amazon’s makes more sense I think. As much as I like that you can’t hate a book on Goodreads, you are going to occasionally hate a book. Given that Amazon now own Goodreads you’d think they’d make the systems consistent, but that’s another story.
All that said, I don’t really pay much attention to reviews (or rather, don’t as a reader, but it worries me as an author). I read a book and I decide whether I like it based on that. If I’m getting online I may read the sample, but usually the summary is enough to know whether it’s my thing. Plus all my favourite books have 1star ratings, and many books I find bad have 5stars too.
So, it seems you can review your own work on goodreads. I did that :)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
So, Goodreads lets authors review their own work. I thought I’d give it a go.
Now this review is obvious bias in many ways. You can decide for yourself whether it was ‘amazing’ as I have claimed with my 5stars. But I do want to tell you why I think it’s amazing.
Larkspur took me two years to write on-and-off. Mostly off. I wrote a bit, decided it was junk, and stopped for a few weeks. I thought about writing, about the story, but putting words to computer screen was difficult.
It isn’t a perfect book. That isn’t what I mean by 5stars at all. Every time I look through it I see things I want to change. For the first month I did rearrange sentences, change small details. I even added a short half-page scene explaining something that wasn’t as well detailed the first time around.
I feel like I rushed the ending too. That’s bothered me a lot all this time Larkspur has been out, and I’ve thought about whether to go back and add more several times. In the end I decided not to. This is the first section, the prologue, for the series. And this series first and foremost is about Pierre and Lizzy. So while I could have expanded on the magic, the other characters, the world– I feel it’s ok that I didn’t. All of that will get discovered and discussed in future, longer, books. But this was for Pierre and Lizzy (ok, and the necrocræft. There was a reason I balanced each romance scene with a bloody one.).
So if you want to know how the books rates from ‘this is shit’ to ‘I would cut off my arm to be able to create this’ I’d give it a 4. It could be better. I think I can do better (and so far Delphinium [book 2] is looking to hit that level as I’m writing it).
But there are parts that amaze me. I forget how I phrased something and reading it again weeks later, I think ‘huh, that’s pretty good.’ My characters surprised me, the world opened up far more than what I had in my head, even after all these years. Parts made me tear up. Parts I love reciting to myself just because I think I managed the perfect rhythm if only for a sentence or two.
Larkspur is two years of work, and many more previous years of planning, thought, and dedication… I suppose in that way all books are amazing.
I really truly hope you like Larkspur, and that even a little bit of it amazes you like it did me.
Holy shit. With the huge bump from r/fantasy a few days ago I just tallied up my sales across all platforms. I’ve sold 245 copies of Larkspur since its publication. The vast majority from Amazon, but 9 from draft2digital (kobo, nook, etc). I’ve made over $100 on my book!
24 reviews at Amazon.com by the way, 50/50 with 5star and 4star. Goodreads is harsher, with some 3stars, a 2, and those two 1s.. but even so, I had to expect that eventually.
It’s Wednesday, my r/fantasy Writer of the Day is scheduled for the 23rd, next Wednesday. Really want Delphinium done by then. I know I keep saying that, and seemingly not finishing. Had a meh few days again. Not bad, nothing’s wrong, I just can’t seem to focus and get myself all together. Attempting to work on that. I’m going to go get some tea.
No promises, but I will attempt to finish the first section completely by the time I go to bed and have it up here for preview purposes :)
EDIT: The Writer of the Day is the 23rd. My cakeday is the 27th.
I think the Larkspur series is going to have to be a trilogy. I said 6 books near around the start, having planned out two main arcs which I thought of as two trilogies. Now, I’m not getting rid of the second arc, but it just won’t be in the larkspur set. These first books are about Pierre and Lizzy and their love story. The second arc brings in far more characters, far more politics- and it just wouldn’t work being called the second half of this series. It’ll be its own series is all.
This doesn’t change much with my writing plans. After book 3 I’ll bundle the set as a trilogy, and work with Ophion’s prequel book as well as the start of another series. After the second Clandestina series is more fine-tuned I’ll start writing that.
I have a lot of stories, for a lot of characters and places. Hopefully it’ll be a long and great career.
EDIT: Now that I’ve said that aloud, I’m not entirely sure if the first arc will be done in a trilogy. A quartet might make more sense. Would be wonderful to start being a writer off with a quartet like one of my favourite authors, Tamora Pierce.
Awesome: I wrote a post on reddit about Brandon Sanderson helping me (in r/fantasy). It exploded. I’ve had 77 sales since yesterday afternoon. I officially broke 200 sales- hell, I hit 225. I can’t even..
Bad news: got two 1star reviews over on Goodreads. In a row. One said nothing, the other just “didn’t like it.”
But you know what? I don’t think I even care that much, the amazing support so far is erasing the self-esteem issues. I’ve had far far many more people ask for more and hope I write Delphinium faster.
I have an AMA in r/fantasy on the 23rd, aiming to have Delphinium up for that. Wish me luck. Imma go say a prayer to St. Tolkien (Oh, like he’s not in Heaven).