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About Providing Book Ratings and Writing Reviews

Virginia Alice, author of "HONOR ONE ANOTHER: The ABCs of Embracing Our Spirit Within," writes about fitness, marriage, values, and writing.

Foggy Morning

Foggy Morning

About Providing Book Ratings and Writing Reviews

Most readers know exactly what genres they like to read. They read reviews, as well as the front and back covers, and everything else before purchasing or reading a book. And they stop reading a book if they find it to be anything but ideal – like, let’s say, too boring, too racy, or too frightening – depending on the type of genre they like to read.

I read all the time. In the mornings, I can read from between ten different books, most of which are inspirational, self-development, and poetry. When it comes to learning, preferring books over videos, I read about self-marketing, social media and the writing craft. In the evenings, I read from only one book at a time, alternating between memoir and fiction – including but not limited to mystery and women’s fiction.

Since becoming a published author in July of 2020, I’ve come to realize the importance of rating and reviewing books. Before that, it never occurred to me to do book reviews for a book that I’d read, and there have been many books over the years. Starting in May of 2021, I have written and published twenty-four reviews.

No Universal Rating System

When I first researched about how to write a book review and give ratings, I was surprised to learn there is no universal rating system for rating or reviewing books. Although a few book retailers allow readers to rate books on a one-to-five-star rating system, there really isn’t an exact process in which everyone can rate a book using the same criteria.

Like me, many people rate a book by how it made them feel. Others rate books based on their own system, whether outlined on a website or possibly an App. The key, it seems, is to be fair, although that seems only a matter of opinion. What is well-written to one person can be totally inept to someone else.

(Created on CANVA)

(Created on CANVA)

How I Rate Books I Read

When I rate a book which I’ve read with a 5-Star Rating – it’s just that good to me. But it doesn’t mean that it won’t have trigger words, sexuality, language, or other questionable content. I give Stars according to many factors including:

  • writing style,
  • believability,
  • an author’s ability to keep their story or content moving along,
  • the author’s ability to shift between the different points-of-view included in their book,
  • possible holes in their plot or questions left unanswered,
  • grammatical and punctuation errors (which, if many, can detract from the flow), and
  • the overall enjoyment I feel once I’ve finished reading a book.

When I read a book, I don’t make judgment on content but rather rate the book as a whole. If I misjudged in my selection and a book is so bad I have to put it down, it won't get a rating or review. I only write reviews for books which I finish reading.

The first time I recall not finishing a book, I felt like a failure. But then, I reminded myself about all the many other books in the world to read, and I was able to move on. Not all books are for everyone, and that’s okay. All that’s important is that you, as the reader, are benefitting in some way from a book’s pages – whether you’re reading for knowledge or fun.

Doing Research Before Purchasing or Reading a Book

Like anyone else, I do my research when selecting a book. I’m pretty picky and will not choose a book if I think it will be packed with vulgarity, violence, or explicit sexual abuse; have grammatical issues; or won’t hold my attention. There are plenty of good books out there with great content, storylines, and even humor. Books that feel good, interesting, and even challenging.

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I select books to read based on any of but not limited to the following:

  • cover,
  • title,
  • author, and
  • genre.

If a cover or title do not appeal to me at first, I might later take it into consideration based on a friend’s recommendation or its ratings and or reviews. But if I choose to read a book, I will rate it. And I will take full responsibility for any review I give it.

(Created on CANVA)

(Created on CANVA)

About Writing a Book Review

I take publishing of reviews for the books I read very seriously. And when I first started writing and publishing book reviews, I was pretty nervous. To help calm me down, I did a few things which still help me to this day:

  • After finishing reading it, set the book aside for a few hours or even a day or two before starting to write my review;
  • Developed a working page, adding the title of book, author, date of purchase, begin read date, end read date, where and date I’ll post the review;
  • Write-up an 8-10 phrase summing up the book; then,
  • a day or two later, I’ll rethink the story I read, what I liked about it, what I didn't like about it, how it flowed, if it moved along, if the plot was believable or credible according to the author's own parameters in the opening paragraphs, and so forth….and then, I’ll start writing the review.

Another day later or so, I’ll review the information I collected and what I wrote. Then, double-checking for grammar, punctuation, and clarity, I post my review - usually on Amazon, Instagram, and my website, but also a lot of times on Barnes & Noble, BAM!, and Goodreads. Other things I do are:

  • I try to keep the review to a certain preset length. So I focus on being concise in my words, as much as possible, removing unneeded words.
  • I have started noting pages with possible quotes to include in the Review which I post on Instagram. And,
  • a few months ago, I started placing a note paper with my book, sometimes as a bookmark, but mainly to keep track of the dates when I start and finish reading, grammatical errors (in case an author is self-published and I can then reach to them), and other details like the pages of possible quotes.

Reviews tell us a little more about a book. Negative or positive, a review will steer us to a book or away from it. We will choose the book or not choose it. But either way, we will have made a more informed choice.

— Virginia Alice Crawford

On Leaving Ratings & Reviews

If you are a reader of books, I encourage you to start giving book reviews if you aren't doing so already.

If you’re shy like me and find it difficult to write up a paragraph about what you thought of your book, you can leave as little as one word or just the rating. Right now, my book has 12 Reviews and 18 Ratings, so at least six people have figured out they don’t need to leave reviews.

Reviews, positive or negative, should be honest and straightforward, simple and to the point. Not all of mine are short, but I try to offer the author and future readers a little bit about how I enjoyed their book and why. As with anything, a book review doesn’t need to be complicated. It just needs to be real.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Virginia Alice Crawford

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