Friday, November 14, 2014

#BookBlogWriMo - Day 14 - Ratings System

I have a fairly straightforward rating system and rate books similar to how a teacher grades an essay. Every book starts out as a five star book for me. Then there are things that I look for, and if they are missing then the book loses points. So here's a rundown of how I rate books.

Spelling/Grammar: This is very important for me. I am very much a grammar nazi, and avoided indie books for several years because of a negative experience with one. I believe that a lot of people that don't read indie, avoid it because of the spelling and grammar issues that can be pretty common in indie books. I know there are people out there that think we should hold indies to a different standard because editors and proofreaders cost money and they may not have much of that to spare. While I agree that a good editor and a good proofreader do cost money, it is worth it to publish a quality product. Everyone knows that you have to spend money to make money. Now this doesn't mean that I expect books to be flawless. Everyone makes mistakes and I have found errors in Stephen King books (and you know those are read by several proofreaders before publication). I allow for a certain number of errors based on the number of pages in the book. If I finish a book feeling like there were just a lot of these kinds of errors, it loses a star. I have been called petty for this in the past (not by an author, but I suspect they were street team members) and I really don't care. I can not in good conscience recommend a book to my friends without mentioning this aspect because my friends know how important spelling and grammar are to me. I also believe that individual readers know what their threshold for errors is. If you don't mind errors in your books if the story is good, then you won't care that I said there were several. If you do have a problem with them, my review will warn you that you might have an issue with the book. But the fact of the matter remains that as long as the book isn't so full of errors that it kept me from getting into the book in the first place, it only lost your book one star in my rating.

Character development: This is also very important in storytelling. If a books characters fall flat, or I can't relate to them like I should, it would usually reflect in the rating. This is not a problem I frequently have with books though.

Books Hook: So we all know that a great book will hook you pretty early on so that you don't even want to put it down to go pee (you may remember from my Where I read Post that I do in fact read in the bathroom). A good book will make you want to keep reading, but you won't feel the need to ignore a reasonable bedtime for it. A not so good book won't do those things. If a book fails to pull me into the story, it will lost a star. Sometimes that happens because there are just so many spelling/grammar issues that keep pulling me out of the story (and that's a case where bad editing/proofreading can lose the book two stars.)

Ending: I do not have to like the ending of a book, and my personal opinion of the outcome does not affect my rating, even if it does appear in my review. However, the ending needs to feel appropriate for the story. The ending can make or break a book. Too many times I've read books where the ending felt so rushed when it shouldn't have been, like the author was trying to wrap everything up into it's neat little HEA package in under 200 pages (or however many pages the book is). Most romances end in an HEA (or the series at least ultimately has an HEA. We kind of expect it because if a romance doesn't end happily it's not very satisfying) but the story should still build up to it. It doesn't work to have a book filled with conflict between the main characters (and conflict is important otherwise the story is just boring) and then in the last twenty pages everything almost magically rights itself so they get married and have babies. If a books ending feels rushed like that, it loses a star from me.

Did I like the book? Sometimes I read books that I just don't like. Not every book is for every reader, and there are some books that even I just do not like, for really no good reason. It could have great character development, be reasonably entertaining, have a satisfying ending, and not have a lot of spelling/grammar errors, and I still just don't like it. If that's the case, it loses a star. I can't justify giving a book that I didn't like five stars, but I don't think my personal dislike should mean it only gets one star either when there is nothing structurally wrong with it. Just because I didn't like it doesn't mean others won't.

With my rating system, most books earn four stars from me. The average indie book usually has one of these major factors missing in my estimation, but only one. So if you read my reviews and think that I'm just giving them great ratings because I got the book for free to review it, that's really not the case, I just have a more clinical rating system than most, I think. - Katie

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