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8 Ways I’m Judging Your Indie Book for Review

It was recently brought to my attention that across different platforms, numbers of stars in the rating system can mean very different things when rating books.

For example:


5 Stars = I LOVE IT
4 Stars = I LIKE IT
3 Stars = IT’S OKAY
2 Stars = I DON’T LIKE IT
1 Star = I HATE IT


3 Stars = I LIKED IT
2 Stars = IT WAS OK

(Does anyone really think 2 Stars was an “ok” book?)

MY RATING SYSTEMSo which system am I using when I rate books?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  I’m a whole lot closer to Amazon’s style of rating than I am to GoodReads, for sure.  But… mine has been a little more complicated than that up to this point.

Because I am specifically reviewing Indie Books, self-published books by independent authors, I am looking at a few different things when I read and review them.

What Am I Looking For?

1. Was I entertained by the story?

2. Was it well-written, creatively?  In other words, how developed were the characters and how well did I attach to them, relating to them and wanting them to succeed?  How interesting was the plot line and pacing?  Did it drag in places or move too fast in others?  Was it evocative?  Did it make me laugh, cry, angry, anxious, etc.?

3. Was it well-written, grammatically?  In other words, was it all one verb-tense, or did it switch between more than one?  Were there any obvious grammatical errors, and if so, were there many or just a few?  Was it enough to detract from the story?

4. Are there any plot holes?  If so, are they major enough to affect the believability of the story, or were they minor enough to barely notice?

5. Were there dialogue tags to keep the dialogue anchored to the scene, or were there “floating heads?”  If there were floating heads, was it confusing being able to tell who said what?

6. Did the first sentence, paragraph, and chapter hook me in and make me want to keep reading?  Did it make me care?

7. Were there any parts of the book that made me lose interest, or was I unable to put it down?  How well did the story line propel the story forward?

8. Finally, was it obvious I was reading a self-published book, or was it so well-written and finessed that I had to check the publisher info to make sure I was reading an Indie?  How does this book compare to a traditionally published book in the same genres/categories?


5 Stars = I LOVED IT (it was traditional published quality, I couldn’t put it down)
4.5 Stars = I REALLY LIKED IT (good story and very few grammatical errors)
4 Stars = I LIKED IT (it was interesting, probably could’ve used some minor editing)
3.5 Stars = I LIKED IT (overall interesting, maybe an aspect or two I didn’t like, needs editing)
3 Stars = IT WAS OKAY (it has potential, with a little work it could be better)

Anything below 3 Stars, you’re not going to see on my blog.  I might post a review on Amazon on GoodReads if I just really think it’s bad, but if it’s really that bad I probably wouldn’t finish it and wouldn’t rate it.

If I rate any half-stars here, I will round it up to the next star when I post on Amazon, GoodReads, B&N, etc.

Love Indie Books?  

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