Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#4
Oddly, considering my reviews have been mostly positive, and I do have one work in the 2000 and beyond rank,  I am not a big fan of the review process as it is implemented. I have great respect for people who take the time to post reviews. Its good to know what sections of the readership you are good with, and which you are not. But I do not like to see them weighting the rankings, which , while self leavening, as everyone can expect knocks and lauds,  doing so (weighting them) means authors can weaponize them if so inclined, and if not, at a minimum have to keep one eye open for retributive review, and worry over what their blab is going to do to another persons ratings.  I fail to see how this gets honest comment from participants, unless they are just readers solely, and therefore unbiased save for their own tastes (which is okie-dokey, most of mine are from readers only.)  I have a suspicion that this situation actually depresses the number of reviews given, as well.  It shouldn't be necessary to "trade" for reviews, and doing so is less likely to garner honest ones (obviously).  I occasionally look over the NY best sellers list, and while reviews are posted in the paper, they are not used to rank the top sellers. The top sellers are the top sellers, regardless of reviewer pans or lauds.  They are fun to read, and some might guide reader choice, but it is the readers who by their activity decide the ranking, unweighted by review scores.  I don't know why that should not be the case here. At least I can't think of a good reason.  As for readership, people read what they want to read, and putting the right stuff before the right folks is king.  Also, the very greenest authors should not expect to take the site by storm, but certainly can look forward to progressively doing better as they improve, which is something to look forward to.  First books are an achievement to be proud of, a milestone and testament to the will of an author, and satisfying in its own right. But only the least motivated believes his first effort is the penultimate expression of his talent.  The next one WILL be better and that Will  show in readership and review.  We grow. We improve. We prevail.

This is what we should see, should promote, and must believe. And what the site should encourage.

Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#5

DD214 Wrote: See above.

For anyone not looking for validation the metric to break even if publishing is 3.8 star average with at least 50 followers by chapter 20.


A data source is required.


I would be very happy if I could break even on my novel. I originally had no intention of earning money off of it, but if it is possible that would be wonderful. However, I don't see any source for this metric of yours.

Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#6
The review exchanges don't have to be bad, but I do agree it can set people up to come crashing down hard. The person you exchange with is usually nicer about it than the average reader will be and in extreme cases the readers who come to check it out get upset when they don't get the story or quality they expect.

I'd suggest anyone to begin with a feedback exchange unless you're very confident - 'don't leave a review, just tell me where I can improve' style of thing. Once you think you've got the worst kinks ironed out you can try for the reviews

Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#7
I think there can be a pressure to get a written review just for people checking out the story to see and take the story a little bit more seriously. But I would agree that for a first time, publishing online without maybe asking someone on the forums for help with feedback might be a recipe for disaster for newbies. I'd be destroyed if I took part in a review swap and the review had nothing bad to say only for it to turn out they were doing this under pressure to be nice. I'm sure the followup comments and bad ratings would destroy me. So I would agree that it's better to get a feedback swap in the author's DMs than a review swap right out in the open for everyone to see.

Also, 50 followers and an average of 3.8 stars by the 20th chapters? Aww shucks. Better luck next time me. I know roughly what I did wrong anyway.

Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#8
I'm ahead on the curve on that part, but I really want some feedback on what I may be doing wrong, but also some actual examples of what I'm doing right. It's hard to keep 'doing what you do' when no-one tells you exactly what that is.

@Just Another Pleb - if you ever do a rewrite/republish, scrap the whole third paragraph of your synopsis. The other two paragraphs could probably use some work but the third one could be summarized and stuck on the 2nd paragraph: 'She will be the greatest mage ever' -  "Which will be even harder than she could have known, for strange events are taking shape"

Or something along those lines. You usually wouldn't want to explain too much in something that's trying to draw people into reading your work. It doesn't matter if they pick it up because it sounds good or purely out of curiosity, as long as they start reading. Too much information that isn't important until after they start reading tends to turn people away.

Another general tip is to number the chapters. Quite a lot of people won't start reading a novel unless it's got some chapters already and if they can't see it immediately on the 'recently updated' list there will be more than a few who won't bother to check.

There is someone offering to help with anyone's synopsis in an assistance thread

Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#10

Oskatat Wrote: I'm ahead on the curve on that part, but I really want some feedback on what I may be doing wrong, but also some actual examples of what I'm doing right. It's hard to keep 'doing what you do' when no-one tells you exactly what that is.

@Just Another Pleb - if you ever do a rewrite/republish, scrap the whole third paragraph of your synopsis. The other two paragraphs could probably use some work but the third one could be summarized and stuck on the 2nd paragraph: 'She will be the greatest mage ever' -  "Which will be even harder than she could have known, for strange events are taking shape"

Or something along those lines. You usually wouldn't want to explain too much in something that's trying to draw people into reading your work. It doesn't matter if they pick it up because it sounds good or purely out of curiosity, as long as they start reading. Too much information that isn't important until after they start reading tends to turn people away.

Another general tip is to number the chapters. Quite a lot of people won't start reading a novel unless it's got some chapters already and if they can't see it immediately on the 'recently updated' list there will be more than a few who won't bother to check.

There is someone offering to help with anyone's synopsis in an assistance thread

Thanks for the advice. I think it wouldn't be too late to edit the synopsis and number the chapters. For a while now I've forgotten the importance of making a good first impression on any would be readers.
kazesenken Wrote: Guess I was naive enough to put my first story ever here on RR. Lol.

However, it was probably because I didn't care that much about getting a ton of reviews. I was just writing for the heck of it, and just wanted a place to dump it. Because of that, the harsh critique doesn't really seem to irk me.


I wouldn't call it naive. If you're just here to write and dump it somewhere, go right ahead. Diving headfirst into deep water isn't so bad as long as you know you can swim. Or [insert other vague inspiring metaphor here]. You should be reasonably fine so long as your not a newbie going in overconfident or someone who's very anxious about their first publish and may be very sensitive to feedback.

Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#11

Kester Wrote:
DD214 Wrote: See above.

For anyone not looking for validation the metric to break even if publishing is 3.8 star average with at least 50 followers by chapter 20.


A data source is required.


I would be very happy if I could break even on my novel. I originally had no intention of earning money off of it, but if it is possible that would be wonderful. However, I don't see any source for this metric of yours.



Seconded. 

I have two of those do can I publish and be done with them? 

Step One: Write.
Step Two: Publish.
Step Three: ???
Step Four: Profit. 

I'm being terse since it depends significantly on a multitude of factors. Twenty chapters, in my opinion, is not all that much for something that would be published - in practical effect - as a web-novel. Covering the economics of the 'break-even' without even considering opportunity cost, publishing fees, percentile cuts, marketing expenses (in time and money), preparation of the final product, and that's not even going into environmental factors like: the size of the audience, the age group (thus, their ability to purchase such a work), the sex (for general willingness to buy which would determine the pricing models), the competition present - and whether or not such a story is 'good and indistinguishable for others' or 'good and unique enough to justify purchasing that than another extant work on the market'. Or the presentation. Or artwork and it's appeal to the audience. Copywriting, too; how effective it is - by your hand or another, whereupon either is an expense that would need to be calculated, correct?

Sorry, but the industry is complicated. Using arbitrarily quantified qualified measures - note the order of the two words - to determine something like a 'break-even' seem silly when it doesn't even reference the cost of living in, say, the US or Canada versus Cambodia or Vietnam. 

(Sorry. I'll stop raving finance speels. But know that you're wrong? Well...? Yeah. Misrepresentation and/or oversimplification. Something like that.)

kazesenken Wrote: Guess I was naive enough to put my first story ever here on RR. Lol.

However, it was probably because I didn't care that much about getting a ton of reviews. I was just writing for the heck of it, and just wanted a place to dump it. Because of that, the harsh critique doesn't really seem to irk me.



I agree with that sentiment completely. I wasn't all that bothered since I have largely taken to writing for private enjoyment (doing other adult-ish things that pay more since, well, hobbist). And the vast, vast majority of comments I received (years ago when I was more active) were pleasant and supportive. Of course, the community could have changed. Who knows? I was busy. But I don't see any inherent issue with the 'exchanging rating' game. 

Setting up the author for failure would be a strong conclusion. On one hand, you could breed false confidence, but the comments would likely be self-correcting in terms of offering judgement or criticism. A lovely facet of human nature is that even if we'd be more likely to value a highly lauded work, we'd simultaneously be more likely to attack a work we do not think deserves the honour. More vehemently if we judge it to be asinine or ridiculous or some other negative adjective. You'd be setting up a firing squad that would take aim sooner or later. 

Likely more acute pain. 

However, you'd also expose them to more positive feelings and encouragement, even if people just go with general expectations and praise the work. Which may actually induce them to take their projects more seriously. Which would be arguably setting them up for success, if they have the inclination to work hard at it. 

In short, it just depends. I don't think this is a point that would have a clear-cut, right/wrong answer. It would depend on the person requesting it, the person offering the review (insofar as how honest they are), the community's gullibility to established perceptions of a work, and the frequency - and efficacy - of those that will take time out their days to take aim at it. 

Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#13
I am not against people having a say about work, and I have zero idea why an amateur writer would worry about posting to an amateur writer's site, which this is. If you thought you were posting on Doubleday, you took a wrong turn somewhere.  Trading reviews is just a game here, for which points and rank are the awards, like carnival cuipie dolls, and I don't like that game.  I put up with it, but its nasty business and unprofessional. 

Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#15


DD214 Wrote: For anyone not looking for validation the metric to break even if publishing is 3.8 star average with at least 50 followers by chapter 20.

That's the problem, everyone is looking for validation. It's in the nature of a writer, or anyone, really. Everyone who writes a story hopes for it to be read, and while I don't like or agree to the hook and crook method some of them apply to gain that readership,  I can understand it. Trading ratings and reviews as long as they are kept honest, is a good way to communicate and build up influence too. And most of all, if it works, it works...



FAHyatt Wrote: Trading reviews is just a game here, for which points and rank are the awards, like carnival cuipie dolls, and I don't like that game.  I put up with it, but its nasty business and unprofessional.

Reviews are advertisements. They help bring in new readership, introduce said readers to the type of story they are getting into, and while they might not always be fair or true to the content, that's what adverts are. It's a competition here like anywhere. We might not like it, but saying it's unprofessional is kinda deluding ourselves. Even in professional fields, authors and publishers use all kinds of tricks, which are sometimes downright distasteful, to grab onto readers...

Now speaking personally, I don't agree with the rating trading that happens here either. But like with any site, monitoring the ratings to see if they are fair would be downright impossible. And about quality, well, readers are not stupid. They are the best judges, juries, and executioners. Those writers willing to improve and pass their watchful eyes would make it. Those who are unwilling to even put in the effort to improve, well, in a way they aren't worth the time...


Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#16

I Wrote: Reviews are advertisements.

I certainly agree with you. And did it myself, cuz I felt kinda naked without 1-3 reviews.

I think, though, that the number of possible swaps should be set to 5 and every review
should get a [swap] tag (obligatory). The purpose of review swaps shouldn't be to boost your work to trending.


I Wrote: Even in professional fields, authors and publishers use all kinds of tricks, which are sometimes downright distasteful, to grab onto readers...

True, but RR could still better regulate the swap business. (oh, no I said that evil word...)


Now, that's just my opinion.

Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#18
I think I agree somewhat. The problem with any rating system is that people will try to game it. There's no way around that.

The disadvantage of the current system on RR is that people swap reviews to get higher up in the queue, so their story gets more exposure. Because if you don't, you get no readers. This in turn means that everyone wants to swap the highest score possible, which leads to inflation. Anything below 4 stars will have little meaning, whilst from 4 to 5 stars stories range from awfully bad (mine, probably :-)) to barely readable to outright masterpieces, over the range of a single star.

So, perhaps instead of a single rating system, a platform should simultaneously support multiple rating systems, and for example show a few rows of suggestions on the front page.

Because people are what they are, you probably want the first rows clearly explaine why they are listed there. You do not have to disclose the actual formula, let the players figure that out themselves :-)) For example, the first row could show:

- random pick from the top 1% of the books with the most reads
- random pick from the top 10% of last month's books with the most reads
- random pick from the top 1% of best rated books ever
- random pick from the top 10% of last month's best rated books
- random pick from curated lists (curators fully up to RR's discretion)
- ...

Then use the second row of books with entries such as:

- completely random pick
- random pick from highest 10% of weighed votes 
- latest update
- trending
- latest update
- number of reads
- number of reads of the last 30 days
- number of weighed votes (using chapter size times a vote per chapter)
- review rating
- curated lists
- sponsored entries
- latest update
- ...
- ...

Just don't explain the second row, and even shuffle the entries, so people can't game it.

Perhaps there are better ways, but I suspect some diversity in algorithms is what is needed.

Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#19
Common sense dictates that number of stars can't be the only metric to judge a story on. A story with a single 5-star review is not equal to a story with hundreds of reviews, but has a 4 star average.

There are only so many review swaps a person can engage in. So, as long as the algorithm is weighted in favor of number of reviews rather than absolute rating, everything should wash out. Much ado about nothing.

Re: Exchanging Ratings Hurts Quality And Sets An Author Up For Failure

#20

Half Wrote: Common sense dictates that number of stars can't be the only metric to judge a story on. A story with a single 5-star review is not equal to a story with hundreds of reviews, but has a 4 star average.

There are only so many review swaps a person can engage in. So, as long as the algorithm is weighted in favor of number of reviews rather than absolute rating, everything should wash out. Much ado about nothing.



I would agree with you, if the score would be weighted or the number of reviews would count. The way it is now it has become a similar race to the top as Wattpad. Instead of begging for reads we're now begging for reviews. Then, if we have enough stars, we're going to spam the boards to become trending. Also, some bad scores would heavily affect less reviewed works, no matter the quality, so again those writers need to beg for more reviews. Turning all of this into a popularity contest.

Should I simply post a message and ask people to review me with 5 stars, and offer them blindly 5 stars in return? That doesn't seem right, does it?

Hey, it's fine by me, I don't mind. But if you're trying to avoid that kind of gaming you might consider different algorithms.

Some variations: weigh the review scores, something like:

reviewscore = givenscore x ( reputation + numberoffictions + numberofreviewsgiven + numberofposts + directionofthewind + 1 ) or something similar. That would effectively kill reviewbombers.

You see, the more interaction with the readers, the more advertising you can display, either through reading books, or participating in the fora, that in turn would bring in the cash to keep the site running and at the same time it would make sure the book selection offered won't turn stale, which would attract more readers, etcetera ad Infinitum. Win-win.