I tend to take ratings on GoodReads with a grain of salt; even more so now that Amazon has acquired them and has begun to hide reviews that they deem are “inappropriate”. I also hate the fact that the site allows users to rate a book months (or even years) before publication. And, I’m not talking about those who received advanced copies either. I never see a review associated with the 1-star and 5-star ratings that so often appear the moment a novel gets listed on the site. The latter usually comes from the authors themselves and 20 of their closest friends. I know that in today’s book industry a writer isn’t considered successful until they have at least 100+ reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4+ but there’s nothing I hate more than seeing an author give their own book 5-stars. GoodReads should block them from rating / reviewing their own novels in my opinion but that’s a topic for another post.
The 1-star ratings really irritate me as well because they mostly come from a) other authors who are trying to sabotage their competition; b) readers who have a personal vendetta against said writer; or c) all the John Smiths and Jane Does out there who like putting other people down just to feel better about themselves. I tend to ignore the ratings that aren’t associated with a review and by review I mean more than one sentence because “I LOVED/HATED this book” tells me NOTHING. When I visit GoodReads to vet a novel I’m considering reviewing; I usually read reviews from my fellow bloggers who’s tastes run similar to mine because I know they’ve actually READ the book and rated if fairly based on their overall impression.
There’s also no clear cut definition of what a 5-star rating means; everyone rates their books differently, some people base them on feelings while as others base their ratings on the quality of the writing / story / character development / world-building, etc. As I mentioned a couple of week’s ago in a different Question post; many authors and publishers view 3-stars as a low rating when in reality it’s average. So, due to the subjective nature of ratings I don’t really put much credence in them. I learn a lot more about a novel by reading a couple of 250+ word reviews than I ever will from 100 5-star ratings.