Hey everyone! So like any writer, especially the indie ones, I like to skulk about on Goodreads. Not just checking to see my own reviews but looking at different books friends have added to their TBR lists to see if there’s anything that might tickle my fancy. Like most writers I’m a huge book fan and as such I’m always on the hunt for something good.
I’ve noticed what I consider to be a disturbing trend among the indies, and also the writers from smaller publishing houses which I want to talk about here today. I may get some flack about this from my fellow indies and please know that I don’t mean to offend anyone. I’m a proud indie but what I see happening, I personally believe is something that is not helping our reputation.
What is it? We’re rating our own books! Every time I see this I cringe. We don’t need to be doing this at all. It’s bad for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is how it looks. Do you see Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, or Anne Rice on Goodreads rating their own work? You don’t and with good reason. It’s not because they’re rich and famous, it’s because they know how it would look, and that’s amateurish. “But I am an amateur,” you say. “I’m an indie writer.” No! Amateur or pro has nothing to do with if you’re with a publishing house or not. Don’t believe me? Go read, “Turning Pro” by Stephen Pressfield. He outlines everything a pro writer does that an amateur doesn’t and none of it has anything to do with fame or money. Those things don’t make you a pro. It’s your attitude. It’s your work ethic, and it’s largely your ability to take one on the chin from strangers who aren’t going to like you.
Over the summer another writer asked on her author page whether or not she should rate her own book. The comments were many, and varied. A large number of people said no and an equally large number of people said yes. The reason most of the writers in the yes camp gave for doing it was that they, ‘wanted to show how much the book meant to them’ or they ‘had something they wanted people to know about the story.’
There’s an old saying in comedy and that is, “If you have to explain a joke, it isn’t funny.” I’d take this and apply it to your book. If you have to give a big long tome about the book to preface it before people read it perhaps you need to look at your book again. Your readers should be able to pick up the message you are trying to convey in your book….BY READING YOUR BOOK!
If you do have something to say about your book there are many other avenues you can take without giving yourself five stars in the process. A blog is a great communication tool. When, The Vampires of Soldiers Cove came out I wrote a blog post about why I wrote it and why the book is, to me at least, more than a vampire book. It’s supplemental and people can read that blog post or not. It in no way contains any information you ‘have’ to know before reading it. You can simply pick up the book and have at it with no knowledge of who I am or what I’m all about. In fact it really shouldn’t matter who I am or what I’m all about. The only thing that matters is the reader’s experience while reading it and my own personal experience while writing it.
Rating your own book makes you look, in my opinion, either arrogant (I’m such a great writer I’m giving myself five stars!) or insecure (I’m so afraid nobody will give me five stars I better give them to myself.)
Right now The Vampires of Soldiers Cove is sitting at 3.96 stars on Goodreads. Would I like it to be at least over four? Yes, and if I rated it I might even be able to bump it up there, but 3.96 is pretty standard (go look at Anne Rice’s books. Some of them don’t even rate that high) and it is what it is. I look at the standings but largely, I’m on to the next thing. I’m writing other books that need my attention.
If you are a new writer and you’re saying to yourself, “I wonder if I should rate my own book. Other indies are doing it. What’s the harm?” Trust me, it’s harmful. If I am looking at books to read and see that the writer has given themselves five stars I am much less likely to take you seriously as a writer, in fact, I may even skip your book all together. If you don’t have the confidence in your work to let it stand or fall on your own, how can I have confidence in reading it?
I know there are varying view points on rating your own book and this is just mine. But I would encourage you to think long and hard about doing it. You’ve worked so hard on your book, don’t negate it by possibly making yourself look amateurish right out of the gate. I feel that’s what it does.
Just my two cents of course.