should writers leave reviews

Guest Blogger in the Hut – Glen Perkins

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My good Google+ and blogger friend, Glendon Perkins has bravely agreed to join me in my hut, and share his views on the review rating system, and reviewing in general. My favourite thing about my guest bloggers is that we don’t always have to agree – although we might. I really think that this is a subject that needs to be delved deeply into by indie writers especially, on both sides of the fence.

So here we go! But first, please tell us all about yourself Glen.

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I was born in Colorado Springs, CO, but raised in Wyoming, spending all my childhood growing up in Gillette. I attended Campbell County High School, and as a Freshman, starting writing. In 1991 during the first Gulf War, I wrote a poem depicting my views about war. I submitted the poem to the local newspaper in Gillette where is was published. I submitted a short story to a state contest for school-aged writers and received a second place score.
After graduating high school I joined the U.S. Navy. I shipped off to Chicago, IL, where I attended boot camp. From boot camp I went to San Diego, CA. In San Diego I went to school to become a Hospital Corpsman and an X-ray technician. Once I completed my training, I was shipped overseas to the country of Bahrain. Bahrain is an island country in the Arabian Gulf. I spent three and a half years in Bahrain where my military career ended.
I was honorably discharged from the navy in May 2000. I returned to Gillette to go to college. I went to Gillette College and earned a certificate in Diesel Technology. A short time later I attended Casper College in Casper, WY, to earn a degree in radiography. I graduated from Casper College in 2006 and am currently a radiographer in Newcastle, WY.
In January of 2011(after a twenty year hiatus), I returned to writing–mostly as a hobby–when Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, WY, offered a Writing Workshop. Through the constant encouragement of the members in the writing workshop, I submitted a short story to a writing competition in the summer of 2011. I was rejected for publication, but my desire to be published didn’t wane. After another contest submission and subsequent failure, I continued to plug along.
I am now a three time published author of short stories and flash fiction. I am currently working on more short stories and a novella titled “Under the Bridge.”

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Is The Five Star Rating System Flawed? by Glen Perkins

Is the five star rating system for book reviews flawed? Yes, and that could be the end of this post, but it’s worth a deeper look.

For a few months now I’ve become increasingly put out by the rating system books are reviewed with, a star system from one to five. One being unreadable and five being the best thing since root beer floats. The burr under my saddle first happened when an author I knew asked me for some feedback. I made the mistake and said sure. I mentioned one word was being overused and mixing it up or cutting it out altogether would improve the story. The response: well that’s how people talk around here. Okay…so put it in dialog and delete it from narrative. It never happened. The following books are just as littered with that overused word. Fast forward to a few months back. I read a book by a fellow author and rated it three stars. I was contacted by the author and asked why I didn’t like the book? I responded I did like the book but I didn’t feel like it was worthy of five stars. Well, why not? Because it needs to be improved. I explained I rated the book against top books in the same genre; books that were five star rates because the masses rate it that high. And that boys and girls is what brings us to our problem, the flawed rating system.

What if I told you a book hardly readable had an overall rating higher than a Pulitzer Prize written book? Would you think I am lying? Well, I can assure you I’m not. I’m not going to identify either the unreadable book nor the prize winner but if you would like to do a little research on your own I think you would be surprised what you find.

Fundamentally, the five star system is deceiving because it doesn’t allow enough input to properly rate anything. Ideally, each star would have a set of check boxes attached and the score would be an average of each box checked for each score. For example: what if under each star there were questions pertaining to readable, flow, interest, relatable, and not applicable. And the questions get more specific for each star, providing a more accurate portrayal of the book’s value. Maybe the N/A box is for things like grammar and spelling, something the average reader may not be familiar with nor care about–my dad being a good example, if he can read it, he will and he likes it or not (he doesn’t have much middle ground). Would this solve all the problems? No way in hell, but it would be a start.

Another significant issue with the five star system is the spamming. I’m not talking about filling the comment boxes with drivel, we will always face the white-knighters and flamers. What I am talking about is the blatant spamming of your own book to boost ratings. I, like many others, have heard of authors creating false accounts and boosting their books ratings by giving fake reviews. Why anyone would choose to lie like this is beyond me, but I guess we can’t count on everyone to be honest, which is going to lead to my next point: who should be rating books?

I recently read a blog post about who should be writing reviews and who should not be writing them. It was stated that only non-authors should be writing reviews. I categorically disagree with this notion. Think about it for a moment. Who better to write a review than someone who knows the flaws? Thousands of books a year top the bestseller list and they all have reviews written by people who write. They may not write fiction, but they certainly write. And they write for nationwide or worldwide publications. But, let’s forget that for a moment. The blog also suggested some authors are publishing books, and are learning from the experience. Okay, fine. So what. If authors are putting out the books to be purchased then the books are subject to bad reviews from anyone. There’s something I will say to defend the authors who are learning: keep the reviews to the books. Bashing the author on a personal level has no impact on the book being reviewed.

In closing, it’s apparent to me the rating system is flawed and should be reworked. If a person sells a book or short story or any writing for that matter, it is subject to review from anyone. Receiving a bad review is part of the learning process and having only readers who may not see the flaws making the review is at minimum deceptive.

Glen Perkins

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Thank you Glen for being here with us today, and sharing your review views. I love that we’re all allowed to say exactly what we think here in the hut – it’s my bloggerverse version of Switzerland.

Find the gorgeous Glen Perkins on the following links:

Google Plus profile: https://plus.google.com/u/0/113966284153651041891/about

Google Author page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/101807588369500620502/101807588369500620502/about

http://www.glendonperkins.com; http://www.glendonperkins.blogspot.com; twitter.com/glenperk.

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