Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – What Do Those Star Ratings Really Mean? #WritingTip by Rosie Amber

Welcome to the series where you can share four of your links from your archives here on my blog to a new audience. Perhaps posts that you wrote at the beginning of your blogging experience that deserve another showcase. If you have book promotion posts then please contact me separately for other options. Details of how to get in touch with me at the end of the post.

Welcome to the next post from the Archives of blogger and book reviewer Rosie Amber. Apart from reviewing books online on her blogs and social media, Rosie has a YouTube channel that I suggest you head over and check out.

This week Rosie goes through the star ratings and their values on Amazon and Goodreads with the help of Terry Tyler. Also some very useful reviewing tip.

What Do Those Star Ratings Really Mean? #WritingTip by Rosie Amber

Star ratings on books can be controversial, so I asked Terry Tyler to give us her thoughts on the matter.

The star rating of a book is so important, as it can make the difference between a ‘buy’ or a ‘pass’ for a potential reader. The star average is important for authors, too, if they are approaching book promotion sites.

But what does each star rating mean? Just to make it nice and confusing, on Amazon and Goodreads the stars actually mean slightly different things, and although most book bloggers have their own system (often stated on their blog), it’s as well to be aware of what the ratings mean on these sites.

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Rating

Many reviewers feel the bands between the stars are too wide and introduce their own breakdowns within these, awarding a 3.5 stars or a 4.5 stars etc. Then they might round up or down, depending on how they feel about the book. This is common practice these days and quite useful, if you feel a book is, for instance, better than a 3* but not quite up to a 4*. You can state the variation at the top of the review on Amazon and Goodreads.

If you have a blog and want to use your own system of star ratings, it’s best to display it clearly on your blog, so that readers know what you mean by those four stars for instance. Then, you can translate this to Amazon and Goodreads as you see fit. It’s important to be consistent, if you can, so that readers know what you mean by each rating.

Here’s a dilemma reviewers often face: what if a book is good, well written and researched, perfectly presented, with excellent characterisation, but just didn’t ‘float your boat’, maybe because it’s outside your favourite genre range, or was a much more gently paced book than you prefer? You have two options here, and it’s really up to you:

  • Award the stars according to your own reading experience only.
  • Bear in mind that readers who love this genre might adore it, and rate it according to its merit in that area of the market.

You can always qualify the rating with the wording in the review itself; for instance, ‘this book was a little slow for me and too romance orientated, but I think lovers of the genre will adore it.’

The most important thing is to be honest; you only have to browse Amazon to see reviews saying ‘I bought this book because of all its 5* reviews, but it’s full of grammatical errors and typos’. But don’t get in too much of a sweat over it; one man’s meat is another man’s poison. A book you consider a 5* unputdownable gem might be quite mediocre to someone else. Also, because the 5* system is so limiting, a 3* rating can mean anything from a fairly good book (‘I liked it’ on Goodreads) to something with much potential for improvement.

Ultimately, many reviewers award stars by ‘feel’. Does this book say 5* to you? It’s very important, too, not to feel pressured. If you’re a blogger who takes in review requests, your blog should make writers aware that you review honestly. It’s not unheard of for writers to hassle book bloggers to change their star rating, but please don’t succumb to this, if it happens to you. The way to make your book blog worth reading is to make it authentic.

Above all, it’s your choice, and don’t forget that every single reader will read a book differently!

One important point to make: don’t forget that on Amazon you are reviewing THE PRODUCT. Not the delivery time, or Amazon customer service, or indeed the writer. I’ve seen books given 1* simply because the customer had trouble downloading the book! This can reflect badly on the author.

Want to read more advice posts? Find them here, on our Wednesday Wing Page.

Which star ratings do you trust or look for, when checking out a book?

©RosieAmber 2017

Thanks to Rosie for this very helpful posts for those of us who review books that we read.  I hope you will head over and follow Rosie and her review team and check out more of the posts on how to show your appreciation for authors.

About Rosie Amber

Thank you for stopping by and taking a break from the chaos of life. Take the weight off of your feet for a while and find something about your day to smile about; thank you for becoming part of my world, if just for a minute or two. It’s a shame you can’t smell the roses, but if you take a virtual stroll around I hope you’ll find a book you might like to curl up with, some useful advice if you’re a writer or blogger, or one of my more personal pieces that you may find interesting.

I was brought up in the beautiful Hampshire countryside. I am married with two children and juggle part-time work with full-time motherhood. I started blogging to combine a love of reading with a desire to embrace social technology; since then it’s developed into a passion to introduce avid readers to new writers, and offer a platform for little-known talent.

I review nearly all the books that I read, and post to Goodreads and Amazon US and UK. Aside from this blog, you’ll see my reviews posted on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve even branched out to do 90 second YouTube book reviews to try to reach the reading youth of today. I take submissions for my personal reading list, and also have a review team with approximately 30 active readers; if you would like to submit your book, please click the ‘Your Book Reviewed’ page, above.

I am so grateful for the support from visitors to my blog, and all you have done to spread the word about it on social media, not least of all nominating me for online blog awards. I was proud to be awarded runner-up in ‘Best Book Blog’ award in 2016, in the hugely popular and far-reaching Bloggers Bash, and third place in 2015 and 2017.

The Rosie Amber blog is an ever-growing, ever evolving entity, and my wish is to continue to provide a great service to readers, writers and blog addicts everywhere.

Connect to Rosie

Facebook :

If you would like to share some of your archive posts from when you began blogging, then please send up to four links to

Please do not send self-promotional book posts as there are several other ways to promote your books here. I am looking for posts on life, relationships, health, creative writing, food, music and travel.. If you have a short story to share that is great too. I will be looking for festive posts soon so if you have one or two of those to share that would be great.

Thank you for dropping by and look forward to your comments for Rosie.

42 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – What Do Those Star Ratings Really Mean? #WritingTip by Rosie Amber

  1. Rosie, as a professional book reviewer for The New York Journal of books, I agree completely with your well presented opinion piece on this subject. I try not to review books not in a genre I enjoy so I don’t have to wrestle with the rating dilemma. If I really enjoyed a book with typos and errors, I often take the author aside and point this out, going gentle this time but warning that I won’t review another with errors not corrected. This is a needed article since so many readers are perplexed by the rating system.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord: What Do Those Star Ratings Really Mean?  – The Militant Negro™

  3. Great advice from Rosie, particularly the last paragraph. I’ve seen so many unjust reviews because it wasn’t a reader’s genre, as if it’s the author’s fault?
    I only give good reviews. I know how it hurts to have a bad review and I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. If I can’t give it a good review, I won’t review. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

      • Yes, but I have changed the fairies to stars for Amazon and Goodreads. I do use the .5 in some of my ratings if I feel like something was off in the plot or if it rattled on with no destination. But when I get to Amazon and Goodreads I end up rounding up rather than down. I must tell you, I’ve had the longest run of 5 star ratings on my blog ever. The writing has been superb and well deserved. Most of my reviews have been for well seasoned authors with tight plots and great stories. I would love for your group (gulp) to review my debut novel. I’m working on the second book in the series right now. It’s YA fantasy if anyone is interested. I hope you don’t mind me asking. Thanks, Rosie. I’ve learned much from you and your reviewers. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A very useful article, Rosie. If there is something in the language that I don’t like or spelling or grammatical errors, I usually point these out in my review but I don’t necessarily detract from the rating which I base on interest factor, originality and reading pleasure.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi, Rosie. This is a great post on ratings. When I shop for anything on Amazon, I always look at the number of stars the reviewers gave it. I have found that I can shop with confidence this way and have never been steered wrong. For books I review, I rate according to how much I enjoyed the story, whether there were tons of errors (actually, I usually put a book down at this point and go no farther), how the storyline played out, whether or not the characters were believable and dialogue appeared natural and not stilted. Thanks for sharing this, Sally.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: This week Rosie Amber goes through the star ratings and their values on Amazon and Goodreads with the help of Terry Tyler. | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  7. I belong to a reader’s group on Facebook, and whenever this topic comes up, I’m amazed at how many people don’t trust book review bloggers. Many believe that they are paid by the author to give a good review! Thank you, Rosie, for stressing the importance of stating that reviews are honest. Whether readers believe it is another story altogether, I suppose.
    Great article! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As a reviewer, I seldom read anything that I can’t give three stars. I enjoy great characters that I can connect to and a plot that is believable. I am frustrated with the arbitrary star system on both Goodreads and Amazon. I’ve had authors come to me saying I gave them 4 stars on Amazon but only 3 stars on Goodreads. They want me to go back and change my rating on Goodreads. I understand where they are coming from. Personally, when choosing a book, I pay more attention to what is said in the reviews than to the number of stars. If we are going to continue to give stars they should be standardized.
    When rating a book, I can overlook a few errors, but if there are so many to the point where I am noticing them as I am trying to enjoy the book, I have gone back to the author and suggested they make the corrections. Of course, this is more often than not in self-published books.
    I would never give less than an honest review and I trust that the reader will have faith in my review.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Smorgasbord Round Weekly Round Up – Constantine, Aubergines and Glass Blowing. | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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