A new year means a time for change

With 2016 over we are looking forward, but we never look forward without first looking back. As we do look back, we notice a trend that, while we had seen for months, is not something we wish to continue into the new year. The average score we gave to a book in 2016 was well-above average.
One may ask, why did this happen? Well, the issue arises on multiple fronts. One of the causes we can do little about and that is the fact that we take requests. While we try to grab books at random from time to time, requests have quickly become the majority of what we do here. That is not a problem, but it tends to skew the scores because only a particular group of authors is comfortable asking for reviews. Authors who are confident in what they do are much more likely to seek a review than those who doubt their ability. This sampling error probably skews our scores upward.
The second issue is a little more unfortunate, but it is one for which we have a potential solution. We set up our rating system to be on a five-star scale, one being bad, five being great and 2.5 being average. That works great, but it is hard to use that system and translate it into rating systems such as Goodreads and Amazon. While those systems also use stars, they do not have a definitive average at 2.5 and differ from one another in ratio. While we stand by all of the reviews and ratings we have given, those stars represent something closer to an Amazon rating, something that is familiar to all of us, rather than a fixed ratio scale with a 2.5 average.
We have two potential solutions. The first is easy, in 2017 we use the initially intended scale and then change the ratings that we put on all of our favorite sites to reflect the differences in scale. We feel this would be confusing to readers and authors alike, though, so our proposal is much simpler. We scrap the star system altogether and instead we would move over to a letter system, much like the one you would see in school, which would sit on an A – F scale. The benefit is clear; the average would be a C without confusing people with different star ratings. The Amazon rating would then be different (perhaps we could even post that too?).
We are not getting back to reviewing until next week, so we have some time to decide. Perhaps we can all make this decision together. Let us know what you think!

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3 thoughts on “A new year means a time for change

  1. Using a scale particular to you, such as the A to F, would certainly free you from popular assumptions which I’m sure as a reviewer is a good thing. How you’d translate those back to Amazon ratings I have no idea but for me the main take-away message of a review, of any “star” level, is the comments. What I really like about your site, and hope you aren’t going to change, is how you divide the reviews up into different categories of what the story does well and what it could do better. I find that aspect of your reviews very helpful when I’m wearing my reader hat. Good luck with the new rating system, I’m sure it will be helpful to all involved.

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  2. Actually, I wish Goodreads, Amazon, etc would allow people to give a half star rating. There are books that I’ve read that I rated on Goodreads that I wished I could more precisely grade at least with a half star – sometimes I just think a book is a 4.5 star.

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