Voicing opinions is a human imperative. That’s one of the reasons why there are close to 150 million Twitter users; that’s why there are close to 200 million blogs. That’s why there are so many websites where we can rate products and professionals. We want to have our say.
Clearly, I am an active participant in this culture of opinion pandering. In particular, I have gone onto various book sites to rate and review novels I’ve read. It’s easy and somehow satisfying. Sometimes I think, megalomaniacally, that I might even be helping to guide and advise future readers.
But, as a new author I now see all this from a new perspective. I have gone to goodreads.com and amazon.com to see what people thought of my novel and this is what I’ve learned: thoughtful reviews, including the negative ones, can be helpful and informative to me as a writer, while lone ratings, without commentary are not.
When I was a synchronized swimmer, at the end of a performance the judges would raise their scorecards and voila, I was ranked and rated. As a performer, these scores were not particularly helpful on their own. I did not know what parts the judges enjoyed, or the sections and technical elements in which I fell short. An 8.5 meant very little without the qualitative data to back it up. I wasn’t learning or growing as an artist-athlete. It was only after the events ended, when I had the opportunity to speak with the judges and hear their thoughts, feedback and opinions, no matter how difficult they were to hear, that I saw the bigger picture.
So, as an author I’ve concluded that I will pay close attention to those who take the time to comment (thoughtfully) and do my best to ignore the rest.
How do you view these rating sites?