I don’t dread reading reviews of my book as much as I thought I might before I got published. But then maybe that’s because The Maid’s Room is a few weeks into paperback publication. I know there are readers out there who love it (thank you, lovely readers – I appreciate all of you) and this makes the inevitable fact that some people don’t and won’t like my book easier to bear.
But there’s a kind of review that leaves me flat – the oh-so-beige three-star review.
According to Goodreads, the three-star review means, ‘liked it.’ Not a horrendous verdict then. But log onto the WHSmith website, and you’ll find three stars mean ‘average.’ On Wordery, a three is a mere ‘acceptable.’ Oh.
To many of us – readers and authors alike – Goodreads stars equate with school grades:
5 stars = A.
4 stars = B.
3 stars = C.
2 stars =D.
And 1 star = someone who’s very cross indeed.
If you look more closely at three-star reviews, you’ll notice that they’re sometimes attached to opinions that are polar opposites.
Rick from Petersfield might say, ‘I can’t believe the publisher has charged £7 for this muck,’ and then award three stars. While Sal from Worcester ‘liked it a lot’, such a lot in fact that she mentions the number 3.95 in her review, then lights it up with three stars only. Oh go on, Sal, couldn’t you have rounded up and given a four?
For me, a three is a book that I liked in places, but there were a few things that weren’t quite right about it. Maybe I couldn’t quite lose myself in the narrative and was always aware of the book in my hands and the words on the page.
But if a Goodreads three means, ‘liked it,’ perhaps it’s higher than a grade C. A B- possibly? And though the pushiest of parents might disagree, a B- isn’t too shabby at all.
I think I might have just made peace with three stars. I felt a bit mean giving them out – but now I don’t feel quite so bad.
What does a three-star review mean to you, readers and writers? I’d love to know.