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Don't harass Book Country members for reciprocal ratings!
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 12:04 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 353

I've now heard from several members on the site about a handful of other members emailing them privately asking for a barter of star ratings, ie "You rate my book five stars, and I'll rate yours."

I'm gonna put this out there right now: Don't do this. Pestering other Book Country members for higher ratings or reciprocal ratings can be construed as harassment, which is a clear violation of our Community Guidelines and something we take very seriously here at Book Country.

Harassing another member will result in your account being banned permanently.

Trying to game the system isn't going to help you become a better writer, and it isn't going to help  you get published. But it will ensure that you lose access to what is already becoming a wonderfully supportive community of writers and readers.

All the best,
Colleen Lindsay
Book Country Community Manager

Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 12:36 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 222

Thank you for this, Colleen.

I would love to --earn-- a five star rating, but I only want one if I actually earn it.

It is vital that we, and by we I mean the community as a whole, strives to improve our writing as much as possible, provide high quality reviews for one another, and never lose sight of the goal of improving ourselves in all aspects of our chosen genres.

I almost always return reviews. This is polite. But I will not rate you well because you rate me well. I will rate you as I perceive your story. I will leave feedback regardless of whether or not you have critiqued my story.

I hope that we can cultivate an environment where everyone is honest, harsh and polite with one another as we critique, review, edit and learn how to improve our craft. By harsh, I do not mean to be nasty, mean, rude, or otherwise impolite, but down to earth, honest, truthful and pulling no punches. Telling it as it is, both the good and the bad, and helping each other improve.

I have read some stellar writing on this site so far, and I would hate to see the system abused. This site truly has great potential, but we all need to be honest about our reviews, even if it means that we have to give out the one or two stars. I feel miserable every time I review an aspect that low, but I feel that the price I pay in guilt is worth it in the reviews, critiques and feedback I try to give every writer I've read.

Just my two cents, of course.

Thanks, Colleen.
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 12:40 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 353

I'm so glad you wandered into our happy little community! =)
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 12:43 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 222

I really have to stop blushing today, it makes my cheeks feel funny! ::blush:: Awww, thanks Colleen.
Marshall R Maresca
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 1:26 AM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 55

I'm with RJ. I want 5-star reviews, sure, but only if the work merits it. The idea of "trading" 5-stars just seems dirty.
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 1:46 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 244

As I've seen bloggers and industry professionals talk about Book Country and its merits, I notice people commenting saying they hope that the site doesn't become cliques of people cheering each other on and simply rating people 5 stars just because they connected and made friends.

Bartering for stellar reviews feels so skeevy. I want people to rate my work what they feel it deserves. Do I want people to like what I write? Sure. But constructive feedback is so much better than reviews that don't say anything positive or anything negative.

I've left other communities because of both ends of the spectrum. I hope that it never happens here. I really like Book Country and don't want to feel like it's no longer worth it.
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 4:22 AM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 214

Seriously --?

I've heard of this type of thing being problematic at another critique site, but ... here?

No. I don't play that game. It behooves no one.
Kevin Haggerty
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 6:07 AM
Joined: 3/17/2011
Posts: 88

You have to wonder--or I do--what such folk think they're accomplishing? Massaging their egos at the expense of their craft? That strikes me as so counter to the very notion of a community like this. "Whee, I got a fake 5 star rating and so did my secret partner in crime! Tee-hee!" Why are they even here? They think their inflated star ratings are gonna win them fabulous prizes? Some powerful publishing king-maker is gonna come down and read their story, and based on the 5 stars some random person gave that story, decide to publish it? Any way you look at it it's loony.

I'd also like to get back to the very good idea that the star ratings, as explained by Danielle in her appropriately titled thread "How to Write Reviews/Use the Star Ratings," are not intended to be used as a simple measure of just how much you truly-ooly looooove someone's story, but more importantly, how close you feel the piece is to being submission-ready. Just sayin'.

Joe Selby
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 3:41 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 29

I tried Authonomy when it first came out and that kind of conduct quickly became the norm. I wanted (and still do) to write, display, and improve on my writing through valuable criticism and critique. I don't want to sell used cars.

I think it will take time for users to grow accustomed to a low-star rating equating the degree to which the writing still needs work and not a flat assessment of its quality. As long as an honest appraisal policy continues, that should eventually arrive and the group will be better for it.
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 4:05 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 222

You have a very good point, Joe -- it will take people time to get used to the lower star ratings.

My average rating is 3 stars. These are stories that I feel are of average quality -- interesting, but not capturing. The highest I have ever rated something overall has been 4 stars, if I recall correctly.

My lowest in a category has been one star. This is when I feel a category is generally weak.

It isn't uncommon for me to mark a story for 3 stars because I enjoyed reading it, but I felt that the points presented needed a lot of work. Of course, this varies from story to story. I've yet encountered a story that has required me to post an overall review of one star, but I don't look forward to the day that it comes.

The day I mark a full story as five stars is the day I will write a review, and then comment at the end if they have started submitting or how they are planning on publishing the book.
Joan Rylen
Posted: Friday, April 29, 2011 5:31 PM
Joined: 3/10/2011
Posts: 7

If you have a five star rating but your work isn’t all that great, where does that really get you? Not far, is my guess. I would think that readers would see through the shiny five star rating and question the reviewer that posted it; therefore, discrediting the reviewer.

Trading stars doesn’t benefit anyone, and if you have to ask for stars, you probably know your writing isn’t up to par.

We all aspire for a shiny five star rating, but it has to be earned.

CY Reid
Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 4:30 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 51

I currently have a 3.5-star rating on my book. This doesn't upset me, or demotivate me - if anything, it made my day, because it meant that people liked it and it still needed some work, which is exactly the motivation I needed. As for negotiating for five-star reviews, most people don't seem to realise that when it comes to the publishing stage, people are not going to send you soaring up the bestseller list unless you buy their book, too. It's an illogical premise and it baffles me as to why people are compelled to manipulate the system.
Joanna Stephen Ward
Posted: Saturday, May 7, 2011 12:52 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 6

Very pleased to know that this is Book Country's ethics.

This sort of thing including cyber bullying went on all the time at authonomy. Other tactics included spamming which was irritating.
Robert C Roman
Posted: Monday, May 9, 2011 5:09 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 376

Actually, I wasn't going to mention other sites, but since others already made the comparison to Authonomy, I think what may have prompted the behaviors there was that the highest ranked book got to bypass the slush pile. Of course, gaming the system meant it was more likely to wind up in the circular file, but there are authors who are convinced that the only reason they haven't been published yet is some vast conspiracy to keep their artistic vision down.

If I could make a more apt comparison, I've explained to friends who want in on the open beta that the site is similar to the Baen's Bar Slush Pile forum. That isn't Baen's actual Slush Pile, instead it's an area where authors can post work and have readers comment on it, anything from a full line-by-line to a simple 'liked it / didn't like it'. Honestly, Book Country has struck me since first login as an updated, expanded version of that type of community.

I'm here to get feedback, to improve my craft. If my work is good enough to get published, it would be great it if the folks who read my work here and like it go out and buy a copy, or tell their friends about it, but... That's not WHY I'm here. I'm here to get better. To get to the point where I can craft literary crack cocaine using nothing by my brain and my word processor. To do that, I need people telling me where what I'm doing doesn't work.

Yeah, I get a rush every time someone gives me four or five stars, or when they compliment my work in their review. That keeps me going like fuel in my tank. But the call-outs on mistakes, the advice, the one and two star ratings, however much they hurt, are my map.
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 2:28 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 353

Robert -

Well said! You have exactly the right attitude!

E E Knight
Posted: Monday, May 16, 2011 2:56 PM
Joined: 5/16/2011
Posts: 1

That crap happened at the old iPublish site too. Boo! Hiss! A circle jerk may feel good, but it's still a circle jerk.

For the record, I wouldn't rate any of my own writing five stars (I'll be modest and say four and a half). Save that for Richard Adams and Tolkien and Herbert, something that would be up there with the best pro writing.

I think it's Amazon's influence, where for 90% of the reviews it's either five stars or one depending on whether you liked it or not.
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 12:58 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 353

Eric! So nice to see you here! Really happy you joined. I think that a lot of the new and aspiring writers on this site will benefit from having your brain to pick on the Discussions board.

Welcome! =)

Carl E Reed
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2011 4:42 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 608

If anyone ever e-mails me asking to trade an unmerited high rating for same, I will:

(a) respond with withering scorn
(b) report that person to the board's moderators
(c) feel a twinge of shame for the poor sap
(d) never interact with that particular writer again

Everyone is entitled to their opinion about particular pieces of work—that's what this site is all about, right?—but high-fiving writing that is riddled with grammatical and syntactical errors, awkward or unclear phrasing, gross errors in tonal consistency, thematic expression, pacing, POV and/or other elements of the craft fools no one. And I can think of no better way of blaring to the world: “Hey, I’m a whorish, tone-deaf idiot whose aesthetic sense is on par with that of a skull-hammered, glazed-eyed glue-sniffer!”

Call me naïve, but I am astounded that any writer would pull that with another writer.

Excuse me while I go shower now. . . .

Danielle Bowers
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2011 7:52 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 279

There isn't a prize for getting all five star reviews, I just don't see the point of harassing people like that. When I first started posting my work on this site I got some pretty harsh reviews that made me put my big girl panties on and do what I could do to better myself.

There isn't even a badge for getting all five star reviews...

When I get those sort of emails I usually just take the offender's email and feed it into a spam bot list. Ten thousand spams later...Wait, that's a lie. I report them to the moderators. Really.
Charles Dove
Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 11:02 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 10

Seems to me that kind of behavior defeat the very purpose of belonging to this site in the first place. There are no virtual celebrities in this place. There is nothing to gain from padding your ratings. My goal here is to glean from others who, like myself, have a desire to hone their skill and become the very best writer they can be. Like others have said, I'd much rather write something that is so well written and compelling that it warrants a high star rating. Anything else is an illusion.
Emma Michaels
Posted: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 2:21 AM
Joined: 6/6/2011
Posts: 15

So many people I agree with! I am so happy that this community values growth and true opinions. My goal in life is to become a better author with every book I write and that is impossible without other people. A person can see some of their own mistakes it they are objective about their own work but other points of view are essential. Reading work written by other people, lending advice and realizing things about your own work along the way and peer comments because your peers are the people who are most likely to tell you the truth you don't want to hear but need to.
Danielle Bowers
Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 11:55 AM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 279

Hi Ella!

If they added messaging to this site it just opens things up for harassment. The easiest way to get people to read your book and review it is to review books yourself. Pick a few active members you see posting on a regular basis and give their books a review. Most members do reciprocate with reviews if they get one.

Hope that helps!
L R Waterbury
Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 11:32 PM
Joined: 4/28/2011
Posts: 60

@Ella, so this isn't exactly the place for discussing this, but I went and took a look at your book description page to see if maybe that had something to do with a slow response. In my experience, it does.

What I can say is that your book description was way too detailed and seemed to give away the entire plot. I don't know if that's actually true, but it felt that way. Try rewriting your description and hook. That might bring more people in.
Ava DiGioia
Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 10:16 PM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 38


The speed of getting reviews depends on how long a work is, and the time available for the reviewer to give it. I know it takes me about 3 days to review a book. I read the work one day, write the review the next, and re-read the review on Day 3 to make sure it says what I want.

Of course, that's if life doesn't interfere. I have been away from the site for most of June due to traveling and other family stuff.

Through my connections, and for reciprocal reviews, I do have a good size list to get through. I was one of the beta users and it took a few weeks to start getting reviews on my own WIP.

Be patient. The reviews will start coming.
Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 5:51 PM
Joined: 8/2/2011
Posts: 2

It's a bit disheartening that on my first day here, my first comment comes as a retaliation from an author from another writer's site.  He harassed me via email to purchase his book, to read his entire book, and then to highly rate his book.  I refused to, and now I get my first review here-- from him-- with a one star rating.  I don't expect everyone to love my book, but I'm hoping my future experiences here are a little less vindictive
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 6:19 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 353

Lucia -

Sorry about that, but I think you'll find that - for the most part - this is a pretty supportive community. If the writer's review of your work is non-constructive, he'll get thumbed-down pretty quickly, and his opinion will weigh less than others. That's how this works.

Welcome to the community!

I'm glad you're here!


Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 9:44 PM
Joined: 8/2/2011
Posts: 2

Thanks, Colleen!  I'm still trying to figure out how the system works, so the forums have been a big help.  Hopefully I can put my big girl pants on soon and start being a more productive member.
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 10:30 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 353

Well, the first step is introducing yourself to members and diving into the forums, so I'd say you're well on your way. Good luck! =)

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Sunday, November 20, 2011 5:33 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 121

Interesting discussion.  Nice to see so many supportive folks out there.  Seems like just about everything that can be said has already been said, but let me add my $.02 (I do miss the cents key on my old typewritter!).

I guess my best advice is that  if someone were to try this with you - ignore them.  Really, what happens if some clown gives you a 1?  People are not attracted to your book by the rating, but by the hook line.  I've skipped a number of books that just don't interest me based on the hook, and instead read books with ratings of 2 or so whose plot synopsis did interest me. 

I also don't read the other reviews first.  I'll read them after I post my review.  This may cause redundancy, but it also offers the writter my un-influenced opinions.  I should also say that the point of reviewing is to help, and low scores can attract me because there's a greater chance i can offer some helpful advice (reading a 5 is always wonderful, but what can you offer? Oh, you mis-spelled phaser at 38%?). 

So like I said, don't be afraid of clowns, ignore them (unless they're Steven Kings clowns - then run like hell!).
Carl E Reed
Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 12:42 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 608

Beautifully said, Tom! Your shining, kindly spirit of twinkling-eyed wisdom and wry good humor come through in the words.
Michael R Hagan
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 7:40 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229

For fear on such reciprication being almost due to unsolicited empathy or association, would it be an idea to have reviews done anonymously? This may be unattractive due to the absence of the social aspect of posting on this site, though.
Tom, I hope you're right that the hook draws, not the rating. I just received my first review and based on the lonely, solitary star attained, I fear I may not receive a second, despite this being the mode average grading of the reviewer and my suspicion that only the first page was actually read!!!

Anyway, here's a call out to 'giving it straight!'
We can take it.

Loving the site by the way! Like many on this thread, I joined as a bit of a cynic, having looked at Autonomy and passed on it as the majority of the top 5 books listed were by the most prolific reviewers, who often "just loved paragraph one, where you said.....!"
Best of luck


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