I try not to obsess. Really I do. When I look at my reviews it’s my like my son when he was young opening up birthday cards. He checked for cash first. I look at the number of stars, first. I concede, there is a difference between one star and five, but what about those twos and threes? What do the stars tell us, and should we as writers pay attention?
I have received two and three stars. Luckily, not many. And yet, when I get a three-star view, my eyes widen. My head starts asking questions. What did I do wrong? What didn’t they like? Should I keep writing?
In order to stop my head and continue putting a pen in my hand, I did some research. I looked up Nobel Laureates in Literature, and found many have received four stars. A couple received even three stars. And, they received a Nobel Prize for their volume of work. I have checked out New York Bestselling authors. Lots of them have been given four stars. And yet, they became bestselling authors.
What to do?
How to wrap my head around all those stars circling.
Yes, of course I read each review. But, I have to be truthful here. Seeing the ratings star number taints my analysis of the review. I am either groping for one word or phrase, just one, that will allow me to think the reviewer just made a personal judemental error: 3-Star, “I look to reading more of this author’s work. Or I obsess on how I failed in the writing: 3-Star, “While it was an interesting story, it read a little slow.”
I cannot complain. In fact, I am grateful for each and every star I get, or to the reader who has spent their time to give me a review.
My answer to my thesis question is…all the star ratings inform us of what we can do better. If we thrilled the reader, how? If we connected somehow with their life, how? And HOW can we do it all better?
That’s the Three-Star reviews. I think I have come to learn they are the most telling in how I can improve my craft. But, to do so, I need to read the review carefully. Try to connect with the type of reader giving the review. Are they used to the genre I am writing in? Even if not, where did I miss keeping their attention or interest? As an instructor, I teach my students that you need to give attention to both the good grades and the bad. I have come to the same conclusion. Acknowledge what did I good and build on it. Where I faltered and work on it.
Writing, whether fiction or non-fiction is communication and an artistic construction. As a communicator and artist, I need to continue to glance at the stars, wish for good ones, while being aware that it is the reader, good star or bad, that I am wishing to connect.