Book Related

Should Authors Be Allowed To Rate Their Own Books?

A few days ago, I was looking through reviews on Goodreads for a book I was reading (I like reading reviews for books as I read them), and I noticed that the book’s author had given it a star rating. Five stars, of course. It seemed a bit weird, but I didn’t really give it any more thought.

Until I was reading reviews for another book, and the author for that one had done the same.

And then another.

Maybe it’s being weird, but this bugged me. It just didn’t seem right that the author of the book was allowed to give it a rating and have it counted into their overall star rating. Obviously, they’re going to give their book five out of five stars, and for some books, they have so many ratings that the overall affect is probably fairly minimal. But it’s still being factored in, and something about that just doesn’t seem right.

We already know that the author thinks their book is good. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t have gotten published, and they wouldn’t have a book to review. And therein lies a problem: they can’t be impartial. They’ve slaved over this book, worked their behinds off to make it happen. They’re rating their effort and work, not necessarily the book.

If I were to do something like that in my field of work, I’d end up in the middle of an ethics debate. It’s comparing apples and oranges, and it’s not an ethics issue unless the author is making fake accounts to rate their book. But it still seems weird.

And it looks weird too, if I’m being honest. Whenever I see these author ratings, regardless of what I thought of the book, I can’t help but lose some respect for that author. I automatically assume they’re arrogant, because why else would they have the audacity to rate their own book. And if  I haven’t read the book already, it turns me off of picking it up. Did the author rate their own book because they’re desperate for their book to look good, or because they think the wrote the best book out there?

I get that you’re proud, I know that you worked hard. But so do many other people. Doctors can’t give themselves glowing reviews, retail stores don’t promote employees just because the employee thinks they’re wonderful, a pizza place doesn’t get business because the owner thinks it’s the best place in town. They let their work or their product speak for them. So why shouldn’t it be the same for a book?

There are lots of ways to toot your own horn without giving yourself a perfect rating on a book. And there are so many people out there who would be willing to read and review your book, and give you an impartial, honest review.

Maybe I’m just being fussy and judge-y. But this has been irking me for a few days now, and I wanted to throw it out into the blogosphere and see what others thought about this. So please let me know what you think about this in the comments below!

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31 thoughts on “Should Authors Be Allowed To Rate Their Own Books?

  1. I think book reviews should be reserved for those who are reading it with an unbiased opinion. I could write something that was absolute crap but I would obviously think it’s the greatest book ever, and so would anyone who loved me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an author, I haven’t rated my own book, and I do sorta agree it’s weird. I have, however, added my book to my “read” shelf on Goodreads, because you know, I’ve read it! When you click on my book though it shows that I’ve “added” it and next to it, it says something like “author review” even though I haven’t rated or reviewed it. I think it’s just how the program works. That said, I can see the other side too, especially for new authors. Reviews are so important just in terms of algorithms and marketing. On Amazon, for example, Amazon starts to do a little bit more marketing on your behalf if you’ve achieved 50+ reviews. Of course there’s a huge ethical problem in creating bogus accounts to rate your own book as well as (IMO) paying for reviews, neither of which I would touch with a ten foot pole because I agree, I want the rating to be as objective as possible. I have confidence in my work, and I believe it will speak for itself. But I also know how important reviews are, so I wouldn’t really hold it against an author just because it isn’t how I would go about doing it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I didn’t know that about Amazon – but that is interesting. I can see how that would make a huge difference for authors just starting out and trying to make a name for themselves, though, as you say, there are some ethical issues with that.
      It’s really interesting to hear the author perspective of the review system – I would have had no idea otherwise. I’m going to have to go back and rethink this with the added information.

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  3. Very interesting post! I have come across so many Goodreads’ pages where the authors have rated their book 5 stars. I don’t know how to feel. Sometimes I don’t care, but sometimes I’m irritated. It’s a difficult concept to wrap my head around, but, like you said, I also lose a little bit of respect for the author that does this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t really have a problem with it to be completely honest. There are so many people out there that do troll reviews based on an authors race/gender/religion, that I don’t think one, albeit, biased review hurts. There are also a ton of people that will negatively review books based on nothing but premise and don’t actually read the book. I also think that it can give authors the opportunity to tell readers something important about the book that they may not notice on their own. I think it also gives readers the opportunity to comment on that review and open up a discussion between themselves and the author about the book. If I had a published book, I think I’d avoid Goodreads like the plague TBH, so I think if authors are opening up that kind of discussion on that site with readers, than more power to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true – there are definitely much worse things that could be happening than a admittedly biased rating.And you make a good point about reviewing books negatively on nothing more than premise (and sometimes rating highly because it’s an announced release of a book in a series, but that’s another matter entirely). I actually like when they use the review space to give additional information, just the rating part bugs me. You make a lot of good points – getting me thinking!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can definitely understand that. I’m not familiar with the Goodreads platform from the author side. I wonder if there is a way they can post about their own book without doing a rating? And what all they can do on their to talk to their readership.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m curious how it works with them commenting and stuff, whether or not they have to add a rating to do that. Because it’s cool to see them interacting with fans on there. I just don’t understand how it all works.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It doesn’t really bother me, particularly if they write something acknowledging the whole situation like “Well of course I think my book is good! ;)” in the comments. I mean, sure, we DO all know they already think it’s good, and the rating is meaningless in that sense. However, as long as it’s transparent that it’s the author doing the rating (they’re using their own name and not pretending to be an unbiased reader), I’m cool with it. Most books on Goodreads eventually get so many ratings that one 5-star rating isn’t going to skew the whole average.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Right. I think in the beginning it can be a little misleading if there aren’t really other ratings so theirs is heavily weighted, but after a while it won’t matter. I don’t think many people are convinced by something that only has 3 ratings anyway, no matter where the ratings are coming from. At least, I know I don’t buy any products, for example, that have 3 ratings because it’s not great evidence that “most” people would like the product.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I completely agree! I don’t think authors should be giving themselves ratings because it is going to be completely biased. Of course they are going to think that their book is awesome, even if it isn’t. It’s good for them to be proud of their books, but going ahead and rating it is too much. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Myself, I think it’s weird. If you feel the need to counteract negative reviews or to puff up your rating with a 5 star rating coming from you, then your work isn’t standing on it’s own merit and that says something I don’t like.

    When I asked my husband what he thought, his initial response was “Why not, politicians vote for themselves.” I’m not sure what I think about that, but I thought I’d include it to let you know another view point.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with you, at least as far as the star ratings for books go. It seems rather sketchy and I get odd feelings about it. The only exception I might make is if the author’s page is being attacked for an unfounded reason and they rated it to try and save the book (i.e. when Laura Silverman’s page for Girl Out of Water was attacked by anti-Semitic persons with one star ratings because of something she protested).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That makes sense, because if your book is already being skewed one way because of people who can’t get passed one detail or another, your rating is already suffering from bias. And while it may not be the best way to go about it, fighting fire with fire may be your only option.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. As a writer myself, I think an author who reviews his/her own book is, 1. arrogant, 2. underestimates the importance of integrity–readers want authors to believe in their work, and they want their work to speak for them. And, 3. they show that they are not listening to their readers. If they must assure readers of their skill, they have no confidence in their own work. My 2 cents!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And that’s it exactly! You can’t be impartial to something you’ve worked that hard on. Bias gets you every time.

      I would feel so weird about rating my own book high. I honestly don’t think I’d give anything I’ve written a full five stars.

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