Posted March 29, 2012 by davincikittie in Ramblings & Musings

To 3 or not to 3, that is the question…

Eh, whatever.
Eh, whatever.

There is a really interesting and, I think, informative blog hop happening right now at Bitten By Paranormal Romance about just what exactly makes up a “3 star” rating for each review site. The perception, from many readers, authors, and publishers, is that 3 Stars (or Hearts, in our case) is a “bad” rating. I’m not technically part of this hop (although I would have been if I’d known about it – BAD DVK! Must keep up with current blogosphere events better!), but I think this topic has real merit and wanted to add my own clarification about the dreaded 3/5 rating.

[floatquote]The perception is that 3 Stars is a “bad” rating.[/floatquote]On GraveTells, 3 Hearts means “eh, whatever”. It is literally a not-rating. We didn’t like it, we didn’t dislike it. Some would argue that this in itself is a “bad” rating, especially when you’re an author or publisher trying to promote your book. And there is merit to that line of thought. Readers might skim to the bottom of a review, see it only got 3 Hearts, and not even finish reading it. Hell, that’s what I do. I read too many books, have too much to do to spend time or consideration on something that didn’t get a “positive” score.

The reality though, and what I think a lot of people might not consider, is that a review rating only means as much as that reviewer’s relevance to you as a reader. Do you generally agree with their ratings? Have you taken their book recommendation advice and felt satisfied with the resulting reading experiences? While tempting, we can’t just take a quick peek at a book’s Amazon, GoodReads, or B&N score to decide if we want to take a chance on it; we have to dig a little deeper, read through some reviews (and hope we don’t get spoilers – bad reviewers! /handslap) and make an educated decision based on how the comments and review scores match up. It’s about more than just the number and, to be brutally honest, we’re cheating ourselves out of some possibly great reads when we put on the rating blinders.

[floatquote]It’s about more than just the number and we’re cheating ourselves out of some possibly great reads when we put on the rating blinders.[/floatquote]Many review sites define a “3” rating as “I liked it”. Some, like us, define it as neutral. I think there are very few who actually define it as “bad”, so while a 3-Heart score on GT might seem harsh to some, on another site it would actually be even lower. Our highs are higher and our lows are lower – our midpoint is a true midpoint. Here’s the breakdown of GT’s scoring system:

5 Hearts: Golden Heart Award, “A GraveTells fave”
Extremely moving, unforgettable, one of the best books I have ever read
4.5 Hearts: Silver Heart Award, “A must-read”
Excellent read, emotional and satisfying, a hearty recommendation
4.0 Hearts: Bronze Heart Award, “Recommended”
Good solid read, well-crafted, worth your time and money
3.5 Hearts: “Worth a look”
Overall satisfying read, had some issues with pacing, editing, or character development, but some readers will probably enjoy it
3.0 Hearts: “Eh, whatever”
Didn’t dislike it or like it, don’t really want to read it again but wouldn’t discourage anyone from buying it, generally had plot/character/editing issues that kept us from being able to fully immerse ourselves in it
Anything less than 3
Avoid this book. On GT, anything below a 3 is just a shade of “bad”. To date, we have never given a true <3.0 rating. These books are usually culled during the selection process, since reviewers choose their own books and bad books tend to be off-putting, with their clumsy blurbs and boring excerpts.  I’m not trying to be harsh: that’s the reality.  Not every book can be a homerun.

To illustrate how these definitions change from site to site, I recently did a review for another review blog that I felt was a 3 (“Eh, whatever”). However, on that site, “3” means “I liked it” and “2” means “it was okay”, so I went with “2”. I felt like I was reaming this author, giving the book a 2/5 (which in GT lingo is “Skip it”). I didn’t dislike it! I just didn’t really have any feelings one way or the other about it. But readers of the other blog will be expecting that rating system, not GTs, so a “2” is what it ultimately got and, to me, 2/5 is a “bad” rating.

How do you define a 3/5 rating?

Do you take into account the individual reviewer’s history of scores and your shared interests with that person as a reader, or do you just look at the number?



Sue "DaVinciKittie" Brown-Moore is a veteran romance blogger and reviewer and the primary voice for GraveTells.com. Sue and GraveTells have won several blogging awards, and GraveTells recently celebrated its five-year anniversary! Sue is also a freelance Developmental Editor passionate about helping authors bring out the best in their stories. She loves reading romance, fantasy, and sci-fi and edits any genre she reads for pleasure. You can follow Sue's editing blog, with tips and tricks for authors, at DaVinciKittie.com.