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How Indiscriminate Five-Star Reviews Can Backfire

Christian readers aren’t the only ones guilty of biased reviews. But boy are we guilty! In rendering indiscriminate praise, however, we often ignore the possible backlash… biased one-star reviews.

Yes, we are partly responsible for the dreaded one-star monster.

I was reminded of this recently while reading a one-star review of a fellow Christian author’s novel in which the reviewer flatly said something to this effect:

“I’m giving this book one star to balance out all the undeserving five-star reviews. The book’s really more like a three-star, but someone has to compensate for all the blind prejudice.”

That was refreshing to hear.

Reading Christian filmmaker Kyle Prohaska’s take on the subject was even more refreshing. Prohaska directed the newly released Standing Firm, a film with a decidedly “Christian” aim. Nevertheless, this did not keep the director from an objective assessment of his own work and Christian art in general. At his blog, in a post entitled Christian Movies… just how good are they?, he talked about the backlash that biased Christian reviewers have on the genre as a whole by using IMDB.com’s built-in algorithm, which is meant to help offset voting abuse.

October Baby made by two friends of mine, The Erwin Brothers, has a 4.4 currently on IMDB with 47.7% voting 10/10 and 26.8% voting 1/10.  Had the Christian folks who gave it a 10/10 given it something more honest in the 6-9 range, IMDB wouldn’t have had to bias the score to account for both abuses…in fact it probably would’ve given the film a much higher score then 4.4 if the abuse was heavily on the low end and well balanced on the top end.

Lets face it, very few movies deserve a 10/10 because that means PERFECT.  You might have that perfect movie in your mind, and if you’re being honest then by all means, click away.  1/10 is reserved for the very worst of movies, and I think there’s actually place for movies to have a rating that low.  But on the top-end, 10/10 should be nearly impossible, so why do so many Christian movie fans enthusiastically pad our scores in an attempt to legitimize the movies we love?  If you didn’t know already, voting that way on IMDB actually HURTS the score of a film.  At one point because of the score my film was getting on IMDB, and because of all the 10?s the film had received, I asked friends who I knew had done it to change the vote to something honest.  Whether that meant it went from a 10 to a 5 or a 10 to a 3 doesn’t matter.  Don’t judge a film high just because it affirms things you do, but weigh things out, logically and carefully.  It’s not that hard to do really.  Afterwards my score balanced out a bit more into territory that felt more fair to me.  To those who would say “well we gotta vote 10/10 or 5 stars because of all the liberal wackjobs who are giving it 1/10 and 1 star!” you’re not helping you’re hurting.  Extreme kickback and reaction is never surprising but always annoying.  What you’re doing is just as harmful as what they’re doing.  You’re mad at them because they’re bias, but aren’t you doing the same?  They think it’s the biggest piece of trash ever, and you think it’s the greatest thing to ever grace the silver screen.  Anybody seeing a pattern here? (emphasis mine)

This is five-star honesty! Okay, maybe it’s just three-star. Either way, Prohaska’s take is like a breath of fresh air inside the Christian echo chamber. (And if you haven’t already, I encourage you to read the director’s original article in its entirety, follow him on Facebook, and his other networks.)

Sure, some will interpret this as another slam on Christian fiction, Christian films, and Christian artists. It’s anything but. Frankly, if we had more folks like Kyle who a.) Are active Christian artists, and b.) Willing to be honest and objective about their craft, our industry would be far better off. Instead, we pucker up at every one-star review and cry foul.

The hard truth is that indiscriminate one-star reviews are often just a reaction to so many indiscriminate five-star reviews. We have, partly, made this monster. So perhaps if we did less gushing, we’d do our industry a favor.

The only other question I’m left with is: When will Amazon adopt IMDB.com’s system to offset voting abuse?

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{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Katie Ganshert May 2, 2012, 5:57 AM

    Wow – this is super thought-provoking. Not much to add….just mulling it all over.

  • Carradee May 2, 2012, 6:11 AM

    So true.

    For me, 3 stars means “average [for the genre]”.
    4 stars = “above average [for the genre]”
    5 stars = “excellent [for the genre]”

    However, I also bear the “rating for the medium” in mind when I pick the number of stars. I think long and hard before I pick 1 or 5 stars—and then I also try to qualify my review, to give an idea for whom the item will be 1 or 5 stars.

    A book might be “excellent” compared to others I’ve read in its genre, even while I consider it not all that great overall. In that case, I won’t go higher than 4 stars, to both reflect my experience of it and to bear in mind that I’ve probably just had a bad experience with the genre so far.

    Too many people—authors included—take offense at anything below the top rating. I’d gladly receive a forthright 1-star review that analyzes why the reader found the story worth that rating.

    And yes, I’ve experienced that of which I speak. It was actually amusing; my friends were more upset than I was.

    • Liliy May 2, 2012, 6:18 AM

      I agree with the ‘offense’ thing. XD It’s fun to remind people “Three stars isn’t a bad rating. It means they liked it, but probably wasn’t that specific person’s cup of tea.”

      • Jessica Thomas May 2, 2012, 6:55 AM

        For me a 3 star means, I liked it, I received enjoyment from it, and can tell the author put their best effort into it. Those are good compliments to any author, I think!

        I’m just as stingy with 1 star as I am with 5. The simple act of being able to write a coherent novel (usually) deserves a 2 at least, in my opinion, because that is a feat in itself.

        • Iola May 2, 2012, 9:53 PM

          I agree. I usually reserve one-stars for books that I could not finish, for whatever reason – and I make sure my reviews include the reason. After all, the next person might not be bothered by the same things.

          What’s slightly annoying is that Amazon categorises a three-star review as ‘critical’, yet their own definition is that a three-star product is ‘OK’. Well, OK is OK. It’s average. It’s the literary equivalent of McDonalds. Not great, but likeable and predictable. Three stars is not a critical review.

  • Liliy May 2, 2012, 6:13 AM

    And don’t forget the importance of actually…backing up your star review. I don’t pay attention to stars unless they come with a decent block of text explaining where it came from.

    But yes. We need to reinforce that the best review is an honest one!

    Though right now, I’m in love with Goodreads reviewing system. I can sort out reviews based on the number of stars, how much text & votes on how helpful they are. Plus…my review stars help me find similar recommendations–which is something I’m loving. XD

    • Mike Duran May 2, 2012, 8:51 AM

      Liliy, that’s a good point about ignoring 5 and 1 star reviews w/out solid explanation. I do the same thing. A reasonable detailed explanation for why a reviewer disliked a book should be respected. But just saying a book was “preachy” or “not my cup of tea” seems a cop out.

  • Jessica Thomas May 2, 2012, 6:40 AM

    Yep. I’ve noticed this on Goodreads already, to the point where it makes one feel bad to give an honest review. *Everyone will think I’m mean.*

    I really wish there were half stars on Goodreads, because I agree with Carradee’s rating system, but I’m finding a lot of books fall somewhere between 3 & 4, and 4 & 5.

    I’m stingy on handing out 5 star reviews, and I included a couple of what I consider 5 star books on my Goodreads shelf so anyone interested can see what I consider “excellent”. For me, a 5-star is pretty much an instant classic and that’s *very* hard to achieve.

    • Liliy May 2, 2012, 6:47 AM

      *hugs* YES. Half stars would be amazing. I’ve had the same issue and always juggle with averaging up or down.

      Heh. I think I’ve given out…maybe three or four five stars? And they were for books I LOVED–regardless of quality. XD

    • Nikole Hahn May 2, 2012, 8:42 AM

      Don’t feel bad. Be honest. I’m finding my readers love my honesty.

    • Mike Duran May 2, 2012, 8:44 AM

      I’m like you, Jessica, stingy with five-stars. And the half-star option would be a huge plus. Without it, I find myself having to qualify the grade, kind of like the difference between a C+ and a B-.

    • Katherine Coble May 2, 2012, 10:04 AM

      Heh.

      Most of my GoodReads reviews lately have had a paragraph explaining why the book is actually a X.5 star read and why in the end I either rounded up or down.

  • Nikole Hahn May 2, 2012, 8:41 AM

    I don’t really watch book trailers. I look at what the book is about before deciding to invest the time to read it. I know what you mean about too many five stars. I got slammed because I gave two-stars to a Christian book. It had a great message, but the writing was wanting. The plot and the main character were awful. Apparently, the person thinks all Christian books should be five-star. I don’t think it lends any credibility to a Christian writer if there aren’t some who have problems with a novel. With so many people in the world, we are peppered with different personalities and tastes. We can’t please everyone.

  • Josh Lyon May 2, 2012, 9:11 AM

    This is a tough one. I’m not sure the average Amazon (or IMDB) reviewer approaches ratings as scientifically as some of us would like. The reality is that people read and watch movies for very different reasons, and their reviews are going to be based primarily on whether those expectations were met…or not. For some it’s quality writing, for others plot, tension, character development, entertainment level, etc. Therefore I don’t think it’s fair to say people are being dishonest by giving five-star reviews based on the fact that a book is Christian, because if that was what they were looking for and it met or exceeded their expectations, why not? What’s dishonest, and this is in agreement with your post, is when authors encourage their friends to give these five star reviews regardless of how they really felt about the book.

    If we are comparing each work to the larger body of literature EVER, then I agree five star reviews should be scarce. But I just don’t think this the mindset of most reviewers. They go with the way the book made them feel at the time.

    • Alan O May 2, 2012, 10:00 AM

      Well said, Josh…

    • Iola May 2, 2012, 9:58 PM

      No book (not even Mike’s, sorry) is five stars simply by virtue of being a Christian book, or written by a Christian.

      • Josh Lyon May 3, 2012, 4:51 AM

        I never said it was. My point was that a person might give a book five stars because they were looking for a Christian book and their expectations were met or exceeded by what they found. The idea that there is some universal standard that all reviewers are appealing to when they hand out these five star reviews is flawed, because I don’t think the average reviewer thinks of a five-star rating as “this is the greatest book of all time.” It may be your opinion that they SHOULD, but it is my observation that they DON’T. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many highly rated works.

  • Kat Heckenbach May 2, 2012, 10:03 AM

    I admit most of the reviews I’ve left on Amazon are 4 or 5 star, but it’s because a 1 or 2 star book will make me refuse to finish, and if I don’t read it I’m not reviewing it. I have, on occasion, though, done exactly what you’re talking about. Started reading a book, hated it so much, and then wrote a 1 0r 2-star review just to balance out the (undeserved) rave reviews.

    I don’t limit it to Christian books, though! I have read secular novels, particularly YA, that have rave reviews and the books had so many issues. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t step in and give some opposition to all the ridiculous praise.

    I admit, I do have moments where I’ve thought, “Oh, crap, what if this author one day reads MY novel–she’s going to slaughter me, and she’s got way more fans….” But then I realize that if said author ever does read my novels, it will be because I’ve gained enough fans to draw her interest :P.

    And I totally agree about the half-star. You’d think Amazon would realize its benefit by all the times people write in their reviews that they’re really giving suchnsuch a 3.5 or whatever. I see it all the time, they can’t be oblivious to it.

    • Tony May 2, 2012, 10:11 AM

      I always wonder about the 1-star reviews too. 2-stars, I understand, but how on Earth did they manage to finish a 1-star book? Maybe a movie. . .I’ve powered through some pretty awful films. . .but a book takes time. Couple that with being a slow reader and I just don’t have the tolerance to finish the really bad stuff.

      Although some of them sneak up on you: Richard Laymon’s final Beast House book got a 1-star from me just because the ending was so monumentally terrible. I don’t mean, “everybody dies” terrible, either. I mean: It suddenly turns into an erotic novel about bestiality. Namely, (spoilers) one protagonist enjoys violent sex with the werewolf-like monster before then having sex with the other protagonist. Did I mention they were kids? . . .yeah. 1-star, indeed.

      • Liliy May 2, 2012, 10:32 AM

        Some people have a compulsive need to finish reading things once they’ve started.

        I’ve only recently been able to ‘drop’ a book I couldn’t get through…which is why it’s one of my few 2-star ratings. XD

        But I can admit to have read through some awful stuff start to finish–but I’m also a relatively fast reader. If I like/love a book, I can power through 100-150 pages/hr easy (Ex. Read Jeff Brand’s “Pressure” in 3 hours). Actually, I have that same pace with a really bad book b/c I start skimming. XD

    • Katherine Coble May 2, 2012, 10:12 AM

      this is kind of tangential but your comment reminds me of a thought which has been striking me more and more often recently.

      Is it just me or does it seem like YA as a genre is starting to manifest some of the same problems as the Christian Fiction genre? Both genres definitely have their strengths and great works. But they also seem to be drawing mediocre authors and devoted fan bases that eschew criticism.

      • Kat Heckenbach May 2, 2012, 1:43 PM

        Katherine, my answer to that is the bell curve. I think in just about any genre, you’re going to find that pattern once the market increases to a certain level. The MG and YA genres started when some really cool books came out. Harry Potter put those books on the map. Now, the market is flooded. And with that, comes the bell curve.

        Sigh…I could so rant about it all, but I’m having one of those days where I’m wondering where I actually fall on the curve….

  • Tony May 2, 2012, 10:06 AM

    I think if Christians were more critical of their own art, it would be improving more quickly. It -is- improving thanks to artists such as yourself, Dekker, Peretti, and more mainstream folks like Koontz, Derrickson, and M. Night. It’ll get to a point where it’s excellent, I’m sure. Excellent conservative art has been a long time coming. But it would be so much faster if we demanded better, I think.

    But that isn’t the point of this post I guess. I agree. Even -I- get the urge to give books or movies 1-star reviews when I see a clearly biased slew of 5-star reviews. It’s just manipulative. People go into this expecting a great movie or book and it turns out to be only a moderate one, or even a terrible one. So yeah, you feel the need to balance it. I don’t actually try — I just give an honest review and hope people read it. But, yes, it’s unfair. It’s dangerous, even. When people feel betrayed, they can be pretty harsh. It can make for some brutal reviews.

  • Bob Avey May 2, 2012, 10:49 AM

    Yeah, I got a couple of those one stars.

  • Skadi meic Beorh May 2, 2012, 2:36 PM

    Five words: Christians Are Addicted To Mediocrity.

    A few words on those five words:

    There was a time in Christianity and the Pagan world alike when artists of any genre were held to guild standards, and were not allowed to exist unless their work reflected the very best in their genre. There were a few breakaways, but closer examination shows that Picasso and Van Gogh, to name only two artists, were masters of traditional drawing and painting before they developed the styles they are most famous for. The problem, therefore, is not do I like the piece or don’t I, whether it be a book or a film or any other artistic expression. The whole world may not like an expression, but as long as the artist is following his guild, that is all that matters. As a writer, my guild is made up of the masters of the English language proven to be so because of their staying power. Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joyce Carol Oates, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ray Bradbury… the list goes on, but sadly not for very long. On the whole, Guild Masters are rare. But what does this all have to do with Christian art?

    The Christian is called to be at the forefront of everything on Earth. Our visual artists should be the best, our statesmen the best, our authors the best… our garbage men the best. So, if we are not doing our very best, then we are not bring our God full glory, and we need to stop, study our guilds, and, if necessary, start from scratch. Christian film, for example, is some of the worst tripe I have ever seen. A Wrinkle In Time was good, but not great. The same goes for Christian novels. Christian music is another thing altogether. There are some really poorly disciplined Christian musicians, but for the most part, our music stands with the best. But when was the last time a group of our musicians developed a new genre? There are loads of copycat Christian artists following secular trends, but where are our genre-developers? Right now, I can’t honestly think of one group or singer who has developed anything new. No, not even weird and wonderful Larry Norman, RIP. (No. U2, though 3/4 of them were Christians in their early years, copied vampire-band Bauhaus.)

    Thanks for listening.

    http://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Mediocrity-20th-Century-Christians/dp/B000F3T94A/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1335994587&sr=8-2

    • Tony May 3, 2012, 6:19 PM

      Excellent analysis. Interesting way of seeing things.

  • xdpaul May 2, 2012, 3:02 PM

    I give out tentacles and dirty ashtrays using a formula based on non-Euclidian geometry. No author has complained yet.

    I pity the first one who does.

    • Skadi meic Beorh May 3, 2012, 5:06 AM

      Thank you, Cthulhu. Now go back to your watery cave like a good boy.

  • Kat Heckenbach May 4, 2012, 5:43 PM

    Okey, dokey. I normally don’t come back to blogs days after a topic has been talked out. Definitely not to play…um, er, I suppose “Devil’s advocate” is not the right term….

    A mainstream Christian writer friend of mine was telling me about the movie Courageous a few months ago. She made comments about its lacks in certain areas, but said it was a must-see. She said something as we talked that got me thinking. (Or as we say in the South, “got me to thinking.” Only in the South is “thinking” a place one goes…)

    She said we have an obligation to help promote Christian fiction even when it’s not fully developed, or it will never get fully developed.

    Parents praise their children when they take their first steps. But we don’t praise those same children for walking when they’re five–we praise them for running. And when they’re in high school, we praise them for winning races. The first praise for those first steps, though, is just as enthusiastic as praise for the first marathon.

    I’m not saying (and I don’t think she was saying) that we need to artificially inflate reviews and such. But if we don’t look at them *in context* of Christian fiction as a young genre, we could end up with it dead in the water. There needs to be some leeway given.

    I have given five-star reviews for some books that I didn’t find as mind-blowing as other five-star books. But for the genres they were, for the type of books they were, taking into consideration a whole slew of factors, I determined them to be five-star books. I won’t just arbitrarily give a five-star to a “friend” or whatever, though. EVER. If I don’t feel a book is a four or five star, or at least would be with the slightest of tweaks, I won’t rate it such. But I can understand not necessarily judging all books by the same scale.

    I admit in many ways this is simply not practical. It’s not like Amazon has a “five star for a Christian fiction” selection. Or a “five star for a first-time author” selection. But I remember a beta reader telling me my novel (in earlier stages, btw–just sayin’) said it was good “for a first novel.” At the time, I hated that qualifier. Now, though, I appreciate it. I see that my writing has improved, and that, hopefully, it will continue to improve. But if I’d been told, “Meh. Three stars.” I’d likely have given up.

    I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not the “five star” thing that bugs me. It’s the lack of qualification that goes along with it. We need to, as reviewers, not just rave about a book unless we 100% mean its the best effing book we’ve ever read. But go ahead and give a four or five star–just point out weaknesses so the author knows where they need to grow.

    • Mike Duran May 4, 2012, 7:02 PM

      Kat, I agree with you about the (potential) benefit of qualifying a review. I recently posted about a three-star review I received that was very helpful. As writers, we recognize there’s a learning curve to our craft. Sadly, I don’t think a lot of reviewers have the author in mind, or where he/she’s at on the curve, when they write their reviews. Nor necessarily should they. Nevertheless, I think it’s a sign of a good reviewer to take those things into consideration.

      It’s your other point that I’m not sure about — giving leeway to Christian fiction because it’s “a young genre.” That raises tons of questions for me. Do we apply that curve to all genres? There’s other genres that are also new. Should they get slack? And is it the genre as a whole that gets slack, or the individual writers? And what of “established” Christian fiction writers whose craft is mediocre? Do we grade them on craft, or where they’re at in relation to the genre? I don’t know. I have trouble thinking that we should go easier on Christian fiction just because it’s young and in flux.

      Truth is, many Christian fiction supporters would probably disagree with your (or your friend’s) underlying assumption that Christian fiction is “not fully developed.” Some probably think Christian fiction is doing just fine. It’s hard to adopt a stance, as balanced and compassionate as it might be, that I want to help Christian fiction grow through its infant phase if those who are supporting it think I’m misguided. “Christian fiction’s doing great!” they say. “What’s this poppycock about baby steps? We’re already in a full sprint!”

      I have something else to say, but I have to think it through. These are great questions though. thanks for returning with them!

      • Kat Heckenbach May 4, 2012, 8:06 PM

        I know, Mike–it’s not an easy thing. I see it from both sides. I know Christian writers who see their work as fully developed–and they may be right, for their type of fiction, for their target audience, etc. I’m just saying my friend made me think of it in a different way. Not saying one way is right and the other wrong. Maybe both are right.

        Giving “leeway”–it’s a word I chose for lack of a better one. I’m not sure what the right term would be, or if there is a right one. I do think we need to challenge each other, and we all need to push for the best quality out there. But one person’s quality is not necessarily another’s. Some of those five-stars you think are gratuitous may have been wholly genuine in the mind of the reviewer.

        I think my thoughts boil down to this:

        IF the quality is just fine, it’s where it needs to be, it’s just right for it’s demographics, and readers are leaving five-stars because they truly mean them, then who are we to gripe? Why do we have to “balance out” the five stars with one stars? Give the book what you think it deserves and let the five-star-giving gushers have a right to their (genuine?) opinions.

        IF the quality is *not* just fine, then we don’t need to make it our purpose to publicly slam and humiliate the authors in the genre. That’s where it’s sticky, though. You need to make honest criticisms. But don’t make those criticisms worse because the book was given other, undeserved five-stars.

        The last book review I wrote was a three-star and I pretty much slammed the author. It’s a secular novel, and a first time-author. I might have been to rough on her, but the book grated on me for some very concrete reasons. And it’s in a genre I know well. Most of the reviews were raving five-stars. I thought about making the review a one- or two-star because of that. But I didn’t. Instead I chose three-star and detailed out my criticisms.

        Anyway, the fact is, reviews are subjective. Period. But yes, ultimately, gushing about a book you don’t like isn’t doing anyone any good. I’m just saying neither is being overly critical.

        OK, thought I was done, but something else popped into my head. The statement I made about the last review I did–where I said it was a genre I know well. But I take a different stance when it’s not my home turf. I like magic and dragons and sci-fi and dark, bloody battles. I don’t feel I can justly critique a romance because it’s not “my thing.” I’m not going to be as hard on a romance if I review it and actually think it’s okay–may even give it five stars because I made my way to the end even without a single dragon. Doesn’t mean I’d rate a fantasy novel the same way. I’m going to be harder on the genres where I feel like I’ve got some real understanding and can pick apart the faults the way I did in the review I mentioned.

        Yeah, I know, I’ve not made a single thing more clear. Just mucked it all up, eh? 😛

  • Skadi meic Beorh May 4, 2012, 6:08 PM

    Wait a minute, Kat. How is Christian fiction a “new genre?”

    Hinds Feet In High Places
    Pilgrim’s Progress
    Dracula
    The Brothers Karamazov
    Sunshine Country
    The Chronicles of Narnia
    Wise Blood
    Lilith
    The Marriage of Heaven & Hell
    Milton
    Paradise Lost
    In His Steps
    Moby-Dick
    … and the list literally goes on and on

    • Kat Heckenbach May 4, 2012, 6:18 PM

      Fiction used to be fiction, and authors’ beliefs showed up in stories, either overtly or symbolically. But I’m talking about the fiction that has come about since the “split”–when the “Christian” label was added. The books that would only be published by publishers *these days* that identify themselves as specifically Christian and publish only books that they feel qualified to be labeled that way. CBA fiction. The stuff one would find in the Christian section of B&N or in a typical Christian bookstore. Dracula isn’t exactly going to be found there, nor accepted by the CBA as a “Christian” novel. Do not take that statement as a disagreement, though–I totally see it as Christian! I love Dracula!!!

  • Skadi meic Beorh May 4, 2012, 6:35 PM

    Thanks for the clarification, Kat.

    I will never be a CBA author (new term for me), and am actually horrified by the idea because I know that what Jesus has given me to say would have to be watered down so much that it would be worthless by the time those people got their hands on it.

    My wife has read some of that CBA stuff. Worthless.

    Yes, I am angry. I am angry that Christians refuse to work their art at the bleeding edge anymore, and haven’t for going on a century now. Where are the Tolstoys and Bunyans and Hawthornes and Blakes in our day? I can only hope to shine with a fragment of their luminescence. Jesu Juva.

  • Kat Heckenbach May 4, 2012, 6:48 PM

    CBA is Christian Booksellers Association. Basically they “set the rules” for what is allowed and not allowed in “Christian fiction.” I’m not a CBA author either–nor, with their parameters, ever will be. But I can’t say I’m angry, or that they’re worthless. I’ve had my moments of feeling that way, but to be honest, the CBA serves a very specific purpose. And it’s essentially Christian fiction for a specific demographic of Christians. A demographic that I don’t belong to.

    I also am not a comic book fan. I find comics pointless. But I won’t bash comic lovers because I know their purpose for reading comics is not my purpose for reading fiction. Romance is read for one purpose, mystery another, literary fiction another. What I’m saying is you can’t measure them on the same scale. And if we dismiss the whole thing, in its relative infancy, it will never grow against its own scale or any other.

    That said, I applaud you for wanting to “work your fiction to the bleeding edge”–great way of putting it. And if that is what Jesus has laid before you, then you are right to not aim for the CBA audience!

  • Skadi meic Beorh May 4, 2012, 7:34 PM

    Thanks, Kat, for your balanced words, and Mike, for allowing my comments. So much to say here, but I think that I’d rather not criticize and pray instead. God’s perfect will shall be done in literature as it’s done everywhere else. In His timing, not mine.

  • Grace Bridges May 9, 2012, 1:12 AM

    I have gotten severely reamed in the past for posting three-star reviews where I actually thought the book was mainly OK, but pinged it for things like excessive typos, grammatical errors, and unsatisfying plot. So I’ve backed off reviewing anything much these days – it’s not my calling, and perhaps not my right any more since I became a publisher and thus competitor. However, I am determined not to let any such errors into anything I publish.

    Still, it seems there was an expectation that I’d support a fellow Christian completely, and I did not fulfill it. That would have been untrue to what I actually thought. I still read a lot, and IF something is good enough for four or five stars, then I’ll sometimes post a review if I have time. Not three stars or less. The backlash just isn’t worth it – our niche is tiny enough without burning bridges, even if that wasn’t my intention.

    Time is always at a premium too, so the first thing to fall off the to-do list is gonna be the item with dubious benefit to anyone…

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