A few days ago I got an update from GoodReads telling me what my “friends” had reviewed that week. I don’t generally read them in depth, I just give them a cursory look to see if there’s any reviews by my actual friends or of books I want to read.

In this particular update, I noticed an author had rated his own book and gave it a 5-star rating, natch. In the actual review he indicated he was the author, so full disclosure, no problem, right?

I don’t know, I kind of have a problem with it. It seems like cheating, you know? I posted this question on Twitter and one of my author friends said the 5-star rating he gave his own book gives it a negligible boost in the overall rating. Said author friend further justified the practice by saying it kind of evens out the unfair, 1-star ratings a book gets, you know, the kind that say “I haven’t even read this book but I’m giving it 1-star because the cover is ugly.”

I’m not convinced. Still feels like cheating to me.

I’m not published yet so perhaps I will feel different when I am. But right now, as a reader, I don’t like it.

What say you?

4 Replies to “How Do We Feel About This: Authors Rating Their Own Books”

  1. Parker says: June 17, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Hello! It’s been a long time since I commented on a blog post, but this has struck a chord with me.

    I wanted to chime in with my own thoughts, which are very aligned with your own.

    I had been an inactive GoodReads member before, but have recently rejoined and am now actively using the site.

    It was 3 days ago when i saw my first occurrence of this myself. I can’t remember the name of the book, which is probably a good thing, but I do remember being struck with a sense of dishonesty on the author’s part, despite his written confession in the review.

    It’s my opinion that these ladies and gents might simply be missing the point, or dressing up their odd behaviour with thin excuses. I prefer to think the best of people, so I’ll go with the former.

    Firstly, if the rating has no effect on the overall score, then I implore writers to value their integrity over a rating that will supposedly have no effect.

    Secondly, those who believe it “evens out the dubious reviews” are wrong. It only adds to them, being in and of itself a very dubious review.

    Thirdly, I’m of the opinion that star ratings have less of an impact than people realise. Why would 1 star rated books still sell well if this was not the case? Books sell on recommendations, both good and bad; usually from people we know or respect.

    The truth is every time a beloved author or friend of mine recommends a book, they have never steered me wrong. When they do, I don’t question it, because I believe and trust in their judgement. These self-reviewed books are exactly the opposite of this; they instil mistrust instead.

    Dear Authors, have a little more integrity towards your own works. If you don’t, whoever will?

    1. Holly West says: June 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      Hey Parker!

      You put this so much better than I did!

      A group of us were discussing BSP (blatant self promotion) on this blog a few days ago and I think one of the things we decided is that in the era of self-publishing and social media, people are a little confused about what the etiquette is. As such, it’s kind of an “anything goes” atmosphere. Accept obviously, anything does not go.

      1. Parker says: June 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm

        Hey! It’s nice to be back on your site.

        On the subject of BSP: it’s affecting my twitter experience deeply. I no longer feel safe just following anyone and seeing where they take me. I’m now hesitant to follow a new face and I am quick to unfollow the self-promoters.

        Don’t get me wrong, self promotion is fine, but there’s way to do it, and most of them don’t know it. Starting to get tired of people just randomly posting lines from their books that aren’t even remotely like a self-contained tweet.

        This is another subject entirely though, really.

        1. Holly West says: June 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm

          Exactly! I wrote about this exact subject the other day: https://hollywest.com/blog/2012/06/oh-twitter-how-i-loved-thee.html

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