The three star review

The MM world is a funny old thing. We can, most of the time, be the most supportive and inclusive group of people. When push comes to shove we rally around those that need us, and we all look out for one another. That much is a given. We have fans that support us and love us, and we love them back. We have review sites that work tirelessly and for no reward to promote us. I get 5s, and 4s and 4.5s and recommended reads. I get five reviews on new books actually on release day, I am lucky and I know it, and I thank reviewers and bloggers every day for the support they give the community. There is seriously so much connection in our niche market that it is difficult for me to ever feel down about my writing.


On those dark dark very black nightmare days when I get a 1 in a review. Or a DNF. Or a comment like 'this is a hot mess I don’t know why I bother' kind of review. Or a 'I hate this but I will be buying the next book' kind of review. And where do I see these reviews? You guessed it… ThePlaceThatShallNotBeNamed… and that OtherPlaceCalledAmazon

For every ten 5s and 4s that I receive, from people that love the book, that want a sequel, you know, the types of reviews you want to print and stick on your wall, there will always be the 1s.

And f**k me, if they aren’t the ones we as writers remember. Those are the reviews that have us thinking we have completely cocked up our entire writing careers. The reviews that MUST be true because our insecurities support every word they say.

I wish I could tell you that even after five years and eighty published stories that I didn’t feel that stomach dropping hateful feeling of being a failure whenever I see something really awful posted about my writing. I’d be lying. I still feel the criticism but now, I manage to get over it fairly quickly.

Someone at GRL asked me why I changed the ending to All The Kings Men when I re-released it. I had a simple answer. Review-pressure. So many reviewers hated it, and it didn’t matter who loved the look at the LA of sixty years ahead, all I heard was that I had failed.

So, what is the point of this post? Oh yeah, three star reviews.

You get enough unbiased reviews of an average work and you’ll see a pattern forming. This is called a normal distribution. With a reasonable amount of 5s and 1s balancing out the majority of AVERAGE reviews of 3s.

See, we should all, as writers, expect our books to get an average of 3. The good should balance the bad and we should be smiling and happy when a book has an average rating of a three. That means we have written for the average person and done well. So I call it a win to get a 4, or a 5, I call it a fantastic win. And yeah, I can get all miserable for a few minutes on the 1s, but hey, all my books on ThePlaceThatShallNotBeNamed average over 3, so I guess I must be doing something right (ROFL).

Are you an author? How do you feel about the ratings given to your books? Are you a reader? Do you worry about ratings when choosing books?


  1. I'm a reader, and I give out more 4 & 5 star reviews than any other, it's not that I don't review the ones I'm not so fond of, it's just that I tend to buy the books I know I'm going to love! I buy new to me authors but writing the genres I like. I can honestly say that I've never read a 1 or 2 star book and I've only DNF once. My books are my happy place and I appreciate all the authors who work so hard to provide me with them!

  2. I review a LOT of books...and, I've never given a 1 or 2 star rating. I think if it's that bad for me, I usually contact either the author directly or the review site I write for and decline to write a review and explain why. I just think that the author's (and hopefully editor's) time and effort deserve at least a couple of stars. It's pretty rare that I DNF a book, and, having been raised with the 'if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all' mantra, I ALWAYS look for something positive to say, even if I didn't like the book. Of course, that means it takes me a lot longer to write up the reviews for books that I didn't like, lol. My theory is that I am viewing a book through my prism...and that is definitely different from anyone else's, so, if there's something that didn't work for me, I'll mention it because that may not be an issue for the next reader. The one thing that frustrates me is reading an ARC that is riddled with typos and not mentioning it...and hoping that the mistakes were caught in the fine-tooth editing. So, take those bad reviews with a grain of salt and remember that some folks just take their bad mood out on somebody who can't strike back, and refuse to give them any power over you--those who love your writing would be crushed if it stymied your muse!