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The 3 Star Review

One of the first words of advice out of the mouths of vetren writers is to ignore the reviews. And, like most debut authors, the first thing I did when I woke up in the morning was check my reviews. (In all fairness, most people might prefer to wait until after the morning coffee to engage in such a sadistic practice.)

And, for a while, my overall rating stayed pretty high. And then it started to drop. And drop. And drop. Until it began to hover around 3.85 stars.

And I felt like a failure.

The further I slipped from the elusive 5 star average, the more I convinced myself that my book really didn't have the umph to connect with readers.

And then I read an article by Book Reviewer Yellow Pages. And this one on Book Riot. And then I went to Goodreads and checked out their guidelines for star ratings.


And I found nothing.

That's right. The ratings are completely subjective to the person doing the reviewing. I did, however, discover several variations on this rating scale:

1 star - Didn't like it. Worst book ever.

2 stars - It was okay, but nothing to spectacular.

3 stars - This was pretty good. It wasn't the best book I've ever read but I'm glad I read it.

4 stars - This was an outstanding read. Sure, there were a few issues I had with it, but I would probably recommend it to someone else.

5 stars - OMG THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ. The characters, the setting, the feels. So much going on in my head. I must read it again starting now!

Again, I am paraphrasing.

Armed with this new found knowledge, I decided I needed to take a reflective look at one of my own three-star reviews. I am reprinting this with permission by Silvara Wilde over at You can read the full post here.

Rating: 3.5 stars

This was such a fun book! RJ starts out as the kind of self-absorbed popular girl we all hate. But by the end of the book she had become the best version of herself.

It was full of snarky humor, which I adore. As well as just fun things in general. Like, Death Himself (yes, it’s always capitalized like that!) wears tacky Hawaiian shirts and is a bit of a surfer dude. We also get to meet a number of angels, as well as Cerberus (and his handler). I loved all the characters in this book, even the ones we might not be supposed to love. They all had such distinct personalities, and it was fun seeing how RJ reacted to them, and how they reacted to RJ!

The Trials she faced to change the course of her life, were supposed to be difficult. But while they were in a way, they also weren’t. RJ chose selfishly in her original life. And that’s what got her in trouble in her afterlife. But in choosing a new option, she was ultimately still being selfish. She was doing it to get back to her life. And the only way to do that, was to be a better person. So she picked the nicer person options.

Granted, those were the harder choices. Not the easy path she had gone along before. But we didn’t really see how it changed her character until after she had passed the Trials. We saw little bits here and there, but since the new memories stemming from her choices didn’t all fall into place immediately, she was still a bit of a brat. With some small glimpses of the better her scattered around.

The ending left me sitting there going seriously? Did you seriously just do that? It wasn’t a horrible, “I’ll never read this author again” ending. It was actually kind of funny once it sank in. I just wasn’t expecting it AT ALL.

Um, I actually really like this review. There is no doubt in my mind that the reviewer liked the book and appreciated the ending, which some have claimed ruined everything. In short, I am so grateful to this reviewer for taking the time to give an honest and fair review.

So, writers, don't be afraid of the 3 star review. They mean that you wrote a good book. They mean that the reader connected with your story. They mean that you did good.

And, to give hope to the masses, here are a list of best-selling books with more than 15K one-star reviews.

1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (393,186 one-star reviews)

2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (15,049 one-star reviews)

3. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (45,326 one-star reviews)

4. Divergent by Veronica Roth (24,004 one-star reviews)

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (48,845 one-star reviews)

6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (57,516 one-star reviews)

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