Books, Writing Reviews and Confusion.

Confused (from Pixabay)

This is just a quick post to express my recent confusion . . .

As most writers, I love getting reviews of my books. Whether they’re good or bad, the comments can be helpful as I pursue future writing projects. I’ve been fortunate in having many great comments, as well as one or two that have made me stop and think. But I do keep in mind that all readers are different. What appeals to one may be something another reader dislikes. Even the most popular novels – the best sellers – have a wide range of reviews and ratings.

There now. I’ve just said the word that is causing me to be confused right now. Notably, the Amazon Rating System.

I noticed two more reviews of Book 1 of my trilogyΒ Shadow of the Raven on the Amazon UK site over the weekend. One is great (5 stars) and I couldn’t ask for better. The other has left me scratching my head! It’s a short review, but the wording is nice and complimentary. This is it, word for word:


Couldn’t put this book down. If you like Bernard Cornwell you will enjoy this author who writes in the same exciting way.”

I’m delighted with the comment, of course. Many similar comments have been accompanied by a rating of 4 or 5 stars. But this one came with a rating of 2 stars, so I’m sure you’ll see why I’m bewildered by it.

When all’s said and done, a 2 star rating means you didn’t like the book at all!

So the wording of the comment and the rating contradict each other. Could the reader have simply misunderstood the rating system – or clicked the wrong star symbol? Or is it me who doesn’t understand the star ratings?

If anyone can offer some explanation about this, I’d really appreciate it.


37 thoughts on “Books, Writing Reviews and Confusion.

  1. I imagine they messed up when clicking the stars. I reviewed a book for someone once and did the same thing. I noticed and sorted it out but it’s easily done if you’re a bit of a muppet like me πŸ™‚

    1. I’ve never thought of you as a muppet, Ali! You certainly have an odd sense of humour (in a nice kind of way, of course). But muppet … ? No. Lol Thank you for the nice comment. πŸ™‚

    1. I’d like to think so, Ineke, but I don’t suppose they’d have any reason to check back on the review. I’ve no idea who wrote it and I couldn’t query it anyway. Perhaps people seeing the review will be as confused as me, and just accept the nice comment. Thank you for your nice comment here! πŸ™‚

    1. It is, Antonia, and there’s nothing I can do about it. if it had been written by someone from WP or Goodreads, I suppose I could politely query it, but it isn’t usual to do that. Authors simply have to accept whatever reviewers write. It is so contradictory, though.

  2. Hmmmm Millie…odd one. Shame, I can only think that the reader, is confused with the rating system. He seeing ‘5’ as not really enjoyed and works his way upwards to excellent. Come to think about it unless stated it could be confusing to some…being first in a race, second and third….Have a wonderful day Millie πŸ™‚

    1. I’m not sure that Amazon would see it as necessary to explain the rating system. Anyone who writes a review can surely see from other book reviews how the 5-star system works. I’m more inclined to think that this person clicked the wrong one by mistake (or perhaps that’s because I want to think that ant the person didn’t rate the book as 2 star!).
      Whichever it is, there’s nothing I can do about it so I just have to accept it – which I have. I’ve had three reviews of Shadow since last week, and the other two are simply great, so I shouldn’t complain. I just wondered whether anyone else had come across an obvious contradiction like this. It reads so positively!
      Thank you again for your lovely comments about my books. I’m really desperate to get Book 3 finished now. πŸ™‚

  3. As a fellow author, I’m baffled by this, but have seen it happen before.

    I bet it was just an accident on their part. Especially if they were doing the rating through their phone. Those screens are tiny and the touch screens are too sensitive. At least the words were favorable… But I know how frustrating that can be. Those 2 stars negatively impact your entire rating. 😦

    1. Thank you for understanding my frustration. πŸ™‚ The overall rating goes down quite a bit! From what you say, I’m not the only one this has happened to and, unfortunately, we just have to grin and bear it. At least the wording was very positive! πŸ™‚

      1. πŸ™‚

        I wish Amazon could do something about that! Alas, you’re right. We just have to deal with it. Luckily, it sounds to me like all of your other ratings are really good. πŸ˜€

      2. I’ve had some great ratings on both sides of the Atlantic. Just one other on my first book brought me up short – again because I couldn’t understand it and the reviewer did not give reasons for the views given, or point out specific examples. I imagine you have some great ones!

      3. As long as the vast majority are positive ones, then that’s fantastic. πŸ˜€ I’ll admit I don’t have very many for my books, but the ones that I do have are good ones.

        Most of my ratings/reviews come from the freelance writing work I do on a freelance platform called fiverr, which I’m truly grateful for.

  4. I would imagine the reviewer made an accident in clicking wrong star. Clearly, the reviewer raved about the book in words so… hmm. Sounds like an ‘oops.’

  5. I think, it’s just a mistake!
    Or maybe it depends on country, like with notes in school, in Poland 5 is the best, in Germany 1 is the best, I guess you have A as the best mark – so maybe someone got confused πŸ˜‰

    1. Thank you, Rockhopper. I’m inclined to agree with you. The bad thing is that there’s no one I can contact to query it. Besides, it would probably look like sour grapes on my behalf if I did! I see what you’re saying about the differences in conceptions of a 1 star and a 5 star rating in different countries, too.

  6. I’ve seen this before and I think it’s just a mistake, but of course it has a big impact on your overall star rating. I’m not sure there’s anything you can do though. Very frustrating 😦

    1. Thanks Bekki. Most people seem to think the same, so I’m just accepting it as that. As you say, it does affect the overall rating of the book, but there’s nothing I can do about it. At least the comment was nice.
      I laugh every time someone compares my writing to Bernard Cornwell’s – and there have been a few! I haven’t read his Alfred books yet, but I read his trilogy about Arthur years ago. I don’t think my writing style is anyhing like his! Perhaps people say that because our books are about Alfred. I do know that the esteemed BC starts his series when Alfred is already king. In my first book, Alfred is still a child, which further confuses me regarding comments like that. Confusion reigns at the moment. πŸ™‚

      1. I guess people see different things in many books. You’re right the connection may be subject matter rather than writing style. I haven’t read Cornwell, so can’t comment. but it definitely sounds like a compliment to me. Think of all the negative things they could say when they make that connection, such as you’re trying to imitate, rather than being like him.Sorry again about the misplaced stars dragging your rating down 😦

  7. I’m guessing they thought the rating was 1 for best, 5 for worst. At a previous workplace of mine, customers were asked to rate the service they received and they could also leave a verbal comment. This happened all the time, someone would say they got excellent service and were very happy and then they gave a 1.

    1. Thanks, Doda. It seems that way, but I’ve since seen similarly mis-matched comments and star ratings on other author’s books, and feel sure that the reviewers simply don’t understand the rating system. The seem to think a one-star review is the highest score. I was happy to receive the nice comment, but the low star rating puts author’s books down in the Amazon rating system.

  8. How sad.The reader should be more careful,(s)he wrote a superb review and then spoiled everything with the choice of the stars.It’s obvious,Millie,the more stars the better.What can I say.Amazon should check out these contradictory situations,but seemingly,it’s automatised …

    1. It does seem strange that Amazon do nothing about this. For an author, any low rating brings the overall rating of the book down. As I said, Doda, I’ve seen this happen a few times now. Grin and bear it is my motto.

      1. At least you were not the only one,as you said it happened to other authors too.Why don’t you contact them?Is Amazon that “impersonal”?They should worry about it too,it’s bad reputation for such a business.

  9. In a perverse way, 2 stars play in your favour. People who buy based on the star system are suspicious of a five star rating, especially on a low number of reviews. I don’t buy based on stars, but I will always look at the ‘critical’ reviews, especially when they are in stark contrast. Since the review itself is positive, and brief, it will be taken on board. That other 2 star review is a bit of a gobsmacker and I can’t believe a lover of historical fiction would be swayed.

    You are able to comment on your reviews, but I would not recommend it. You would not wish to alienate a happy reader over a star or two.

    1. To say I was gobsmacked by that other 2 star review is putting it mildly – especially at the mention of the book being like women’s fiction, something I really don’t like. I admit, I’ve tried to give a more rounded look at Viking and Anglo Saxon life than some Viking books, but it’s not a romance, and hopefully, not soppy! Anyway, I wouldn’t dream of commenting on any reviews. It was just that the other 2 star, with the positive comment, confused me.
      I’ve heard that about having all high star ratings on only a few review, too. Readers immediately think they’re all from family and friends, and such like. Thanks for reading that post, Christine. It was a while ago now.

  10. I have a Kobo reader and cannot download some books to it. Some books I cannot get in Canada. If I can get them in pdf format I can convert them with epub. As soon as I’m moved and settled I am looking forward to reading your Shadow of the Raven.

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