Saturday, June 1, 2013

Writers rating their own books? Is that even normal?!



For a couple of weeks now, I’ve had this INSANE addiction to the popular book-and-readers website Goodreads; researching books, their writers, people’s comments about those books, recently published books, others to-be published, other genres, recommendations generated by the site…etc.

For those who are not familiar with Goodreads. It is a website that features books in print, e-books, Kindle editions...etc of publications from all over the world. It also includes groups for discussions, polls, and a creative writing section. It is a must-check-out website for bookworms and non-bookworms alike. On Goodreads, there are three categories for a book’s status: read, to read, and currently reading. If you’ve completed a book, you may, or may not, rate it using a scale of 1 to 5 stars. You may also leave your comments or impressions.

Something odd I’ve noticed recently was that some writers rate their own books!

How does that work? I mean, I write a book and give it a 5-star rating?!

Obviously, if I’ve written a book I’m going to think it’s the best ever and I’ll give it the highest rating – otherwise I wouldn’t have written it and it wouldn’t be my pride and joy.
It was rather striking for me to see – or rather notice this. I have been thinking about it for a few days now: no one in their right mind would give their own work a bad rating; everyone views their work to be of the best or highest quality. True, they might view their later works as better and more sophisticated for writing develops with practice, experience and time, but still, a writer wouldn’t willingly downgrade his or her own work. Furthermore, few – if any – writers can distance themselves from their own piece/work to be able to give it an objective review or commentary.

I have convinced myself that I will not post the writers’ full names here, so that no one would think of them as silly – other than myself.

A certain writer gave her book a 5-star rating and commented saying “I think it’s fabulous, but I wrote it”.  For this line I had the urge to say “No kidding” or “Oh really?!”

Call me silly, but it rather annoyed me. I know I would like or do often think the same of my own work, but I don’t say so out loud. I’d rather see or hear other people say that.
Similarly, a young Egyptian author gave all of his short story collections a 5-star rating. I’d comment, but I don’t know what to say other than “weird”, but that would be a repetition.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian writer, or rather poet, gave her poetry collection a 5-star rating. - I have to note that one of her fans commented saying “[This collection] deserves 10 [stars] not only 5”. Ironically, this same person gave the collection a 3-star rating below! I don’t like the excessive use of exclamation marks, but with this last remark, I have the urge to do that which I most abhor: !!!!!!!!

Moving on, I came across a writer, not Egyptian or Arab, who gave their work a 4-star rating. I wonder why.

Whether it was for fun or for real, this last rating is just down right “weird”. Why would a writer give their work a 4-star rating? Don’t they like the outcome? If yes, why didn’t they perfect it then? Is it an old piece therefore they view their newer ones as better? If so, why rate it in the first place?

As a reader, if I see a writer downgrading their own work, I won’t consider reading it. Period.

I realise that some, if not many, might find this post altogether silly, but certain things need to be said. At least that’s what I think and believe. Take it where you will.