I was going to incorporate this concept into another blog post I am working on about self-publishing, but I feel it is important enough to warrant its own page. It happened to me and has probably happened to other writers, especially, I suspect, those who have self-published. The receiving of the dreaded 3 star or below rating on a review site by a friend, acquaintance or an anonymous reviewer. Here is my personal opinion on this: Just like friends don’t let friends drink & drive, friends don’t give friends 3 star or below reviews. I believe that goes for fellow writers, and really anyone who chooses to publicly display a review (unless that is your profession). Here is why:
Please understand that the writer whose book you have chosen to publicly rate has just laid his or her soul on the page. It is a vulnerable and courageous act. If you cannot honor the writing by the author by a 4 or 5 star rating, it is a much kinder practice not to rate at all. Most writers and avid readers recognize that a 3 star or below review will not help an author gain more readers, it will do just the opposite. If that is your intention, than you may want to question your motives. If you feel the book is honestly offensive to potential readers, than by all means, write your review. In this instance you would be doing a service of greater good. If not, consider either not posting a review at all, and/or approaching the writer directly about why you could not a post a more favorable one. You may actually be able to help the writer craft a more polished story. When I received my 3 star review by a friend of mine, I was crushed. I still am. I would have much preferred her to contact me directly, or not rate at all. I tend to believe everything happens for a reason, though, so I wrote this post to help enlighten others. I also went back through my book, since it was self-published, and caught more of the typos, formatting, and other errors I had previously missed. There are likely more (I am only human), but it did inspire me to go through it one more time, and a cleaner copy will soon be available.
Back to the bigger picture, though. The bottom line is self-published, and writers who have published under small presses, are especially vulnerable to less-than-favorable reviews. They do not often have the resources or the privilege of having multiple editors, agents and reviewers helping them polish their craft. Instead, they are doing their best to follow their passion through into publication in the hope that other readers may find a value to their words. If you personally cannot find value in their work, that is okay. Few writers hold the misconnection that their work will be adored, or will be relatable to all readers. If you are one of them, especially if you are a friend or acquaintance, simply move on to another book. Not rating a book at all almost makes a statement.