Book Rating: My New System

Ever get stuck on what to rate a book? Ever wonder how to rate that book? Here’s what I’ve discovered. 

5 Stars with people

So I’m in the process of writing a couple book reviews and had to take pause to figure something out. My book rating system. About a week ago, a good friend of mine happened to tell me about how he rates books. It was a good rating system and I thought it was a well thought out process. And then the conversation moved on and I didn’t really think more on it.

Not until my wife brought it up again. She had kind of overheard him explain his rating system but was caught up in her own conversation across the room. Once that was over, she rushed over and asked him to explain it again. It wasn’t until then that I realized I never really had a system of my own. I just kind of went, “Ah. Um. Eh. Hmm,” and picked a number.

5’s are easy. They’re 5’s right off the bat. Right?

But the other ones are a bit more involved, aren’t they? So I took my friend’s system and flat out stole it. In my defense, I’m sure he doesn’t mind. Besides, I added some of my own little things to help conceal the theft and wrote it all down for you. Call me the Robin Hood of Book Rating. Except my friend is no evil Sheriff. I assure you.

So, without further ado: The Book Rating System

The 1 Star Rating

The dreaded 1 Star Rating. No one likes to get them. No one likes to leave them. Well, that’s not completely true. We’ve all read 1 Star Reviews where it was very clear that person LOVED leaving it. They hated the book so damn much they just vomit fury and vitriol in an attempt to rid themselves of the entire experience in one vengeful stint of typed wrath.

I for one have a different approach. For the 1 Star Rating, the book will have never gotten my attention. I will have been bored from page one and never grew an ounce of desire to finish it.  In this case, I will have given up, probably at around page 30, maybe 10% in. If I honestly hated the book, I might say so but someone did work really hard on it. See my post on what it takes to write a book. Giving thought to that, I probably will never publicly say I hated a book. Unless it’s really, offensively bad. I haven’t done this yet.

The 2 Star Rating

For a 2 Star Rating, I will have read quite a lot of the book but much like the 1 Star book, I was quite bored during the reading as it was rather uneventful. I didn’t like the book so I didn’t finish it. I actually might not even take the time to rate it let alone review it. In some ways, this is worse than the 1 Star book because at least there I had enough emotion built up to say something.

The 3 Star Rating

Ya know what? I liked this book! But I won’t read it again. I might recommend it with a warning. But if it’s a book in a series, I won’t recommend it nor will I continue the series. Unfortunately, for me, I’d rather move on and find something really good. There’s only so many books we can read in a lifetime…

However, if it was a close call with rating it a 4, I might be on the lookout for the next book in the series to see if I can get it cheap. I might put it on my wishlist on BookBub or follow the author. 

The 4 Star Rating

I really liked this book! It was entertaining. It moved. The characters had good arcs and the plotting was great. This book didn’t get a fifth star because of that X factor but I will definitely recommend it to my friends and on social media to read it soon. It’s a worthy buy on sale or at regular prices. I will buy the next in the series when I’m ready to read it, if it’s available. I might read this book again, I might not. It depends. I might follow the author or even look for other books of theirs.

The 5 Star Rating

I LOVED THIS BOOK! Is what I would be saying while I’m reading it cover to cover. I’ll be telling people about this book while I’m reading it and telling them to go out and buy it while I’m still reading it. This book is the kind you know will end well. I will recommend this book on social media giving it a huge stamp of approval. I might even tell you to drop whatever you’re reading right now and start reading this book. Obviously, don’t do that. Honor that writer and finish their work, if you like it. 🙂

This book will have had excellent characters, wonderful pacing, and exciting scenes. The story has good flow, even better narrative, and a great story idea. It is written well so as to not pull me out of the story with poorly placed tree-wrap words and clunky sentence structure. (The last bit there goes for 3 & 4 star books too. Gotta get that one down, it’s a biggie)

If this 5 star book is in a series, I might just go and buy the rest of them right then. If there’s a hard copy available, I might pick pick that up too as I will be reading this book again several times.

I will follow this author AND check out their other books too.

Summary:

So there you have it. That is how I will now rate the books I read. I’ve provided a short cliff notes of this in case you’d like to copy this for yourself. Why not? I stole it too!

  • 5 Stars – Love it! Will read it several times again. Definite recommend to read immediately! If it’s a series, I will buy all available immediately.
  • 4 Stars – Really liked it! Might read it again. Definite recommend, read this soon. I will buy the next in the series, if available.
  • 3 Stars – Liked it! Won’t read it again. I might recommend with a warning. I’ll wait for the next in the series to go on sale. Say on BookBub.
  • 2 Stars – Read a lot of it but did not finish it. Didn’t like it. Boring or uneventful.
  • 1 Star – Never got my attention. Have no desire to finish it. If I hated it, I mention it.

How do I decide to actually write a review?

Not really sure but every time I have, I was moved to do so based on either my own emotional response to the story or the author asked me to. 🙂

Leave a comment below and let me know how your system differs…

#1 Best Seller! So what…

What do you do when you hit #1?

The short answer is nothing. Think about being #1 Best Seller, then do nothing about it.

Let me unpack this for you…

In late October, my sci-fi book hit #1 Best Seller in two of its categories on Amazon and on Kobo. I think most authors at my stage would run to the hilltops screaming this out to the world. They might even change all their book covers to state “#1 Best Seller” and walk around finding ways to slip it into conversations. I know this because it’s exactly what I wanted to do.

Admittedly, I posted this triumph on social media and told several people about it. But I did this mainly to give a little credence to the people that know me but don’t really believe I’m serious about writing or that Lockheed Elite could possibly be any good. I get it. If someone I knew told me they wrote a book, I’d have a hard time assuming the book was any good too. For some reason, there’s a stigma about writer’s you know. If we don’t have a contract from a big publisher, I think it’s assumed that we didn’t work our tale(wink) off to put out a quality piece of art. No matter what people think, I’m extremely proud of hitting that #1 spot.

But the reasons are not why you might think.

It didn’t hit #1 because the book is so unbelievably fantastic that people just magically and intuitively KNOW they should buy it. It didn’t hit #1 because everyone’s talking about the book either. The book hit #1 because you all left reviews(50% the reason), I got lucky (40% the reason), and the story is good and well written AND well edited(10% the reason).

What? Book quality is only 10% the reason it hit #1. Ever not finish reading a major award winning book? I have. Three times. They were so boring! But I’ve also finished and loved several others. It’s not hard for professional publishers and marketers to get you to buy a crappy book and make it a #1 Best Seller. It happens all the time. Ever read (insert hundreds of books here)?

For me, hitting #1 wasn’t a pride thing about talent. It was because there were so many of you that helped me out and wrote reviews.

So, how did it play out for Lockheed Elite?

The first thing I did, was make sure I had a good, crisp, clean book cover. It’s simple and shiny. The first cover I put out was total garbage and that was my fault, not my designer’s. I told him what to do. Then we fixed it and now I love the cover.

Then I took advantage of the awards the book won and quality editorial reviews it received, AND, most importantly, the reviews YOU all had written about the book. In bold, I placed the award announcement first, then the editorial review snippets followed by the book description on all the retail websites. This gave the book an amazing advantage and is what I mean by “presented well”. Before people read the description, they were informed of the book’s success. Then they(prospective buyers) saw YOUR reviews which helped them feel good about making the purchase.

So we have a good book. We’ve presented it well. AND we have amazing reviews to boot.

Now comes the lucky part.

Now that I had the arsenal backing the book(the things mentioned above) I was able to confidently apply for what is quite possibly the world’s largest book marketing effort! BookBub! Seriously, reader or writer, if you don’t know of this, you need to. Click on that link, follow me, recommend Lockheed Elite, sign up for deals in your favorite genres and you’ll enjoy high quality, cheap books all the time.

Anyway…

I applied for a featured deal probably three times when the book first came out and each time I was denied. Admittedly, the book wasn’t yet presented well enough.

But this time, I was accepted! I couldn’t believe it. Lockheed Elite was to go out on October 23rd in an email to almost 2 Million people.

I was simultaneously overjoyed and scared out of my mind to have that kind of exposure. Needless to say, this promotion was an overwhelming success! My sales covered my costs and even a month later, the book is still continuously selling everyday.

I cannot stress this enough.

Without the reviews you all left, none of this would have been possible.

So, on the night of October 23rd, I found a little new orange banner under the title of Lockheed Elite.Lockheed Elite - #1 Best Seller

(Yes, I have many pictures of this. You only hit #1 for the first time, once!)

I was beside myself, ready to take on the world, and eager to tell everyone. I wanted to add, “#1 Best Seller” to all my book covers.

But then I thought about it. What does this actually mean? It all boils down to the exposure I got from one great promotion. Which, let’s be honest, wouldn’t have happened without your reviews. And if you think about it. This single success shouldn’t be the thing that let’s me tell the world that I’m a #1 Best Seller. Perhaps instead, this should encourage me. Inspire me. This should humble me.

So I will take this banner, let it pass in time and live inside me as a reminder. I won’t be changing my book covers or writing about it anymore. A close friend of mine just recently told me that my work speaks for itself. I like the sound of that. If you asked me to develop a mantra for myself, I think I’d start there. So every time I sit down to write, I will remember the feeling and honor that you all gave me because it is your reviews that got me here. Sure I wrote the book. But you all backed it. You took a chance on me to read it and took the time to review it. You’re the #1 Best Sellers. Not me.

Not yet anyway…

Thank you so very much for your support. I’ll keep writing quality and adventurous science fiction and my hope is that you’ll continue to support this thing I’ve got going on here.

‘Till next time my friends…

-Tyler

Clarion Foreword Review

 

Reviewed by Joseph S. Pete 

Never failing to entertain, Lockheed Elite establishes characters who could recur in a series that would find a loyal audience.

Tyler Wandschneider’s Lockheed Elite stands out as a captivating, well-plotted science fiction novel that’s loaded with action and intrigue. The book packs as much of a punch as Severn, a swashbuckling new starship recruit who’s asked to prove her mettle by sparring with two “enormous meatheads” in a bar. It’s a rollicking sci-fi tale with twists and turns one does not always see coming.

The book stars a Firefly-like motley crew helmed by Captain Anders Lockheed. After an undercover operative turns up unexpectedly, under pressure from both the military and underworld types ruthless enough to torture and threaten, Lockheed’s titular elite team breaks into a museum to steal mechs in a heist that seems increasingly impossible to pull off.

Characters are developed well as the book progresses, each getting well-drawn personalities and believable motivations. The book can feel contemporary and relatable even though it’s set in the far future. The crew, for instance, sits around and sips whiskey after defeating several goons, brainstorming about how to remove an explosive collar from a crew member’s neck. “Don’t lose your head over it,” says one crew member, and the others chastise him for the comment.

The book sometimes presents characters in a cartoonish good-or-evil light at the expense of complexity and realism. Anders and his crew, for instance, decide against using lethal force in a standoff where they could be killed for reasons that feel designed to depict them as virtuous:

If you killed with options left, killing only got easier, and before you knew it, you’d gone way too far and become just another roughneck crew flying without a moral compass. He wanted better for his crew. They were the best, and they’d stay that way.

Much emphasis is placed on how Anders aspires to have the best crew. His team is given many opportunities to show off over the course of a narrative that feels like it could play out on screen. The story often owes a debt to the science fiction canon but is written so clearly and smoothly that it feels fresh and original.

Dialogue sparkles throughout. Conversations come across as fluid and realistic, and they sometimes express profundity. One character explains the idea of trust to an amnesiac: “It takes time. The longer someone doesn’t hurt you, the more you can trust they won’t.”

Lockheed Elite never fails to entertain as it establishes characters who could recur in a series that would find a loyal audience.

My Donut, My Paramour

picture of a cartoon donut

It’s a complicated relationship, between me and my donut. One that makes my brain woozy with internal deliberation. You know the kind. The, “Should I?” question followed by the inevitable, “No, I shouldn’t,” less than persuasive argument. But then as if operating with a mind of their own, my legs move me while I relentlessly attempt a detour the other way.

But why shouldn’t I experience this lovely treat? I spent all week turning my cheek from other temptations. The extra cookie, the oversized slice of lemon pie…the second hotdog. I put up excellent fights, no matter the loss.

So it is fitting that my reward today, for my valiance, shall be a second donut. I found her, with her friends, snickering at me. She’s sweeter than the first one, damn her. That one left me sad and lonely and filled with shadowed regret so relentless that I could think of nothing other than another affair. This new treat, fresh and shiny, has renewed the promises from before. Joy, relief, a taste so heavenly in that her counterpart mere minutes ago still lies in a faint aftertaste at the tip of my tongue; reminding me her pleasure is only one decision away…

…a third donut. She lies in a patient wait so still I can almost see her calculated attempt at pretending I’m not watching. But I am. Though you wouldn’t notice if you looked at me. I’ve honed my aloofness for food for so long an Oscar could not begin to describe my talent. But the torrent within builds. The pressure awaits a reason to walk by, to grab another.

Oh dammit, it smells so good. My brain descends, yet again into my woozy despair. Please, I beg of you, dear co-workers, eat the last donut before I do. Take this burden, relieve me of my pain. Oh how I wish the company picnic time were here. Oh, the company picnic, the Mount Olympus of succulent treats. What an ending to a torturous week. I curse this life of mine. One of pain and temptation filled with regret and guilt. I need a distra-

Hey look. A donut. Don’t mind if I do.