Thoughts on Thursday: Tour “3 or More” Review Stars

2015-Discussion-Challenge3

Opinions on Blog Tour “3 or More” Review Stars

Somehow this idea came to me after reading this post about how to ruin a blog tour as well as the comments.

One thing a reviewer mentioned was that nearly all tour organizers now require 3 star ratings at minimum. If you rate below 3 stars, your review is asked to be held until after the tour is over. If this does happen, most tour organizers replace these legitimate and honest reviews for a promotional, unoriginal post.

I have a few thoughts on this, but first I want to share a comment from the above mentioned post that was from a publisher:

I think it’s a bit weird to give bloggers a set star limit. As long as they’re thorough in explaining their ranking, honestly, a 2-star could help as much as 4-star. It lets readers know what’s in the book. Authors want the *right* readers to find their book. If a reviewer hates the book because it had a happy ending, and says so, then readers who also hate that won’t pick it up, and readers who don’t mind that or like it will still pick it up. On a recent tour, one of our books was given a 3-star ranking on Amazon and Goodreads, and the review sounded really positive. It was a great review! I wouldn’t have wanted that person to hold it till after the tour just because she doesn’t hand out stars like candy.

I couldn’t agree more with this publisher rep. Sales come from authors’ books finding the right readers. For example, I’m not going to pick up a memoir about any war. Ever. It is just too much for me to handle on a personal level. But if it is more than just a memoir focused on the war, and it goes beyond just the war and is written with a style that incorporates more of the culture of the time and what I consider true elements of literature, then I think I would be the right reader for that book.

My opinion on the “3 stars or more” blog tour policy is that it is unfair to a reviewer. Oftentimes as reviewers we are asked to select 2 or 3 dates for the tour, and we typically wait weeks to find out our assigned date. We have schedules as well as the tour organizers, and we are holding dates for ONE post because most tour organizers require reviews to be the top post of the day. We are working our schedules completely around one review, and then to have the audacity to ask that it be postponed (sometimes up to an entire month!) is unfair. I kind of see it like a slap in the face: thanks, but no thanks! In the past I have declined tours because my dates were still up in the air and I didn’t want to run the risk of having a conflict because I had several review tours in one month.

This ratings policy also brings up a very ethical line that’s being straddled in the blogging world. We all state some form of the FTC policy on our blogs somewhere – sometimes in our review policy, a side button, or at the bottom of each review. If you are participating in a review tour, and you review the book at 2 stars, and are asked to take down or hold the review…I feel that means the author/publisher IS paying for reviews indirectly.

This is one reason I do not rate books on my blog. The other reason is sometimes I feel like changing the star ratings later, so I simply do a one-and-done on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t want to be caught up contemplating changing a previously reviewed book’s star ratings. Instead, it is an official record in my mind on a sliding scale with my review content as an estimator. I feel this is more authentic than reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. because of the feelings about changing star ratings….and because we probably all have come across or heard of at least one author boosting his/her star ratings in an unsavory manner on these sites.

This also leads to why I do not like to read hit mainstream new releases – the ones you see EVERYWHERE. I do not like the hype. I do not let myself get caught up in the OHMYGODTHISBOOKISSOINCREDIBLY AWESOMEYOUMUSTBUYITANDREADITNOW-ness because I know that for blog tours we can sometimes be too giving…and all you see is the “good” measured by the star rating instead of the actual review. The lesser star ratings never show their faces in the light of day during a review tour due to this policy based entirely on ratings instead of the quality of the review.

Which to you is more important: the star rating or the review content?

How do you feel about the 3 stars or more policy? Do you feel that it is ethical? 

Do you elect not to participate in blog tours due to a specific policy? 

18 thoughts on “Thoughts on Thursday: Tour “3 or More” Review Stars

  1. Bingo. I’ve stopped doing blog tours just because of this. The review itself is more important than the star rating but publishers dont seem to care for that. I won’t go into the ethics of it though

  2. Great post. I don’t like the idea of someone telling me how to review. It’s my blog and my opinion. As long as I explain myself, I should be able to say whatever I want about a book. I wouldn’t participate in a tour with a “3 or more” rule. There are tons of books that I love that often get 1-2 star reviews. A few bad reviews won’t stop me from buying a book.

  3. The goal of the tour is to build positive press for the book and the author. A less than 3 star rating may not be completely positive. I’m of the opinion that if you don’t agree with rules of the tour company, you should do tours with that company. Find one that matches you or don’t do them. It’s up to each blogger to make that decision.

    I wish there was more consistently across commercial sites when it comes to star rating. If you look at the image tags that pop up on Barnes & Noble, GoodReads and Amazon, the ratings mean something different on every site. So a 3 star rating on GoodReads may not equal, in my mind, the same on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I do star rating on GoodReads at the end of the year. It my way of seeing which books I liked best THAT year against all the books I read THAT year. On Barnes & Noble and Amazon, I cross post regularly and pay close attention to image tags on those stars when I rate.

    A review with good content to explain the good and bad about a book is more important to me than a star rating. I read a review to find out if the reader likes the same things I do or not. Stars don’t tell me that.

  4. This is hard, because I DO see your point, but I also don’t really have any problems with the policy. I guess for me, since it is a promotional tour, and I have said so in the post, it doesn’t bug me. AND, I can usually tell when a blogger didn’t like the book, because suddenly instead of their usual review, or guest post or whatever, it’s just a quick promo. That in itself is kind of a clear sign! I am fine with highlighting a book- I am not saying I liked or disliked it, I am just saying “Hi, this book is for sale, and here’s its info!”. I actually LIKE that the company doesn’t want me to post my 1 star review because… awkward 😉

    As for which is more important? The content, every time. But what does the average consumer likely look at? The rating. I have been guilty of it for sure! I really like this discussion topic!

  5. Great post. I actually haven’t had to deal with this before, though I’ve participated in a few blog tours. There was one time I did rate book 2 stars, but I got to post my review and the author was really nice about it. She thanked me for my review and everything. Personally, I don’t like the 3 star minimum rule either. The review content is what’s important, and sometimes the content of a 1 or 2 star review can even persuade readers to read a book. Weird, but it happens all the time. And if it dissuades them, rather, well….it’s probably just prevented several more “bad” reviews, because those people decided not to pick up the book instead of reading and reviewing it themselves.

  6. “I feel that means the author/publisher IS paying for reviews indirectly.”

    They are paying for reviews. Period.

    The author goes to the tour company and pays them money (usually over $100) and in exchange, the company puts together a marketing campaign for them, which includes reviews.

    I think the 3 star limit is perfectly okay and ethical. Heck, I usually see it as FOUR stars and above.

    The author is paying money for a positive marketing campaign to create buzz for their book. They want to show off favorable reviews, not bad ones or even mediocre ones. I think that’s fair.

    It’s like any other marketing campaign in the world. You only see positivity in them. Imagine a campaign for a weight loss program. You’re going to see a bunch of testimonials from people who loved the program and lost 20 pounds. They’re not going to show off the people who thought the program was a waste of money because they didn’t lose any weight.

    To be honest, the goal of a marketing campaign is not to show diverse opinions. It’s to make money. The best way to do that is to show off positivity.

    You open up a book and see snippets of reviews from other authors, famous reviewers, or publications. And guess what? They’re all rave reviews. If one of those people come back with a 2 star review, they’re not advertising that on a book.

    A marketing campaign is no different.

    I completely understand this and think it makes perfect sense for the goal to make more money.

    I personally hate promotional posts and don’t want to risk having to publish one, so that’s why I stay away from blog tours. If you hate promo posts too, maybe you should do the same.

  7. I am really hesitant about reviewing for blog tours for just this reason. I’ll often say guest post or I’m not on board because I don’t want filler content on my blog. The only time I’ll agree to reviews is if I’ve already read the book or its from an author I already love so I can be more sure. I’m sad to say that when I started I probably bumped up a rating for a blog tour because I didn’t want to get in trouble sigh.

  8. I don’t mind not publishing a review with a tour being the author is paying for the tour itself but I will still post the review later on then (after the tour is over). If an author wants it pulled down, tough. I have the right to my opinion and I owe it to potential other readers to be honest. If that is a catch of the tour, I won’t do it. I HATE submitting multiple days and then just waiting for the dates. or the book is sent last minute and it is DROP EVERYTHING AND READ. To me, a schedule should be put together within a week and responses sent out. and books should be sent at least 2 weeks to the start of the tour. Some bloggers keep a packed schedule or things happen.
    For finding a book, I usually care more for what is said in a review than the rating. A rating does not say why they do or don’t like it and as you said, their reasons may not be mine. I do skim ratings of people I trust on goodreads though. If a bunch of reviewers I trust rate low or the book has a bad overall rating (say 25 reviews with a 2.2 average star rating) I might avoid it. 1 or 2 bad stars I expect. I hate seeing it the other way too. If a book has 15 reviews, all 5 stars I tend to not trust it. i want to know the good and the bad and just about every book has both.

  9. I agree with Ashley, I think she worded and explained it pretty well. I also own a tour company myself and that might give me a different perspective on this. Authors do pay me to organize their tour and to promote their book and if a tour has negative reviews I don’t feel that promotes the book.

    On the other hand I do try to minimalize the other issues you mentioned and I think tour companies can do something about those. I confirm the tour date within 48 hours as I know how annoying it can be to wait weeks for confirmation. And most of my tours don’t have top post requirement, only blog tours if the author wants that.
    If someone didn’t like the book (below 3 stars in my opinion) I ask them to post it after the tour. They can either ask to be removed from the tour or post an excerpt or other type of spot like interview etc if it is a blog tour. I know some people don’t like filler content and I can understand they don’t want to be part of a tour if they can’t review.

    I do think it’s unreasonable to ask not to post their review at all, I just ask they don’t post it as part of the tour. I think those reviewers should post their reveiws and have the right to do so, just not as part of the tour. I value honesty and I think that even 1 and 2 star reviews serve a purpose and I know people even buy books based on those lower star reviews as what one person dislikes another might like. I do think it’s important to see the diversity.
    I also think it’s important to look at this from the author their point of view, they pay someone to help promote their book and negative reviews do usually scare more people away than encourage them to pick it up. And also some reviewers can be pretty nasty in their negative reviews. I also have seen well written 2 or 1 star reviews, but you can’t judge based on individual reviews either, so a general rule works better I think.

  10. I don’t take part in blog tours because of this. They are paying for reviews, and that’s the bottom line really. You pay for people to get your book, they read it, you only want the good ones that are going to sell your book you know? I only take part in the tours I honestly believe I will love, and even then, it has to be by a company I trust and know. If you’re going to do promotional posts, you want it to work for you.

  11. I really dislike it when tour companies won’t let you post unless the review is positive. And actually, most I’ve encountered require FOUR stars or more, otherwise you have to post filler content. This kind of thing is why I very rarely participate in tours now, and also why I only use one company.

  12. 3 star or more policy is unethical, and probably against FTC. I am just doing my third tour, and this hasn’t happened to me yet. Do they tell you this up front? I don’t do star ratings because it’s such a personal interpretation. I think the content of the review is what is important.

  13. I never do tours with this policy because I feel I owe it to my readers to be honest about any book I want to share my opinion on. I also very much agree with you and the quote you shared – even a negative review won’t necessarily scare a reader away from a book, because we don’t all love the same things.

  14. I do not think the 3 stars or more thing is ethical at all. I actually don’t even look at stars very often. The review itself is much more important to me. Thanks for being a part of Booknificent Thursday this week.
    Tina

  15. […] This category is perfect for me. I’ve mentioned before how I don’t like to read books that are everywhere on the Internet. If I can get to the end of the Internet and still see this book, I avoid it. I feel that we as bloggers and reviewers sometimes are on such a high – or hyped up about – a book that we over rate them. I talked about it a little a while back about review tour policies. […]

  16. i’m actually fine with this policy – if the tour company asked me not to post the review at all, I’d be aggravated, but I don’t mind waiting to post since the tour is meant to be promotional. I recently had a two star review for a tour and they gave me the option of posting a promo or not being on the tour at all – I chose not to do the tour, and since they didn’t tell me not to post my review in any certain amount of time, I did post it pretty close to my original post date. If they’d told me to hold off, I would have been okay with that too – it’s part of what I signed on for when I agreed to do a tour. I do understand your points, though, and I know you’re not the only one to feel this way.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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