Having said that, I am amused by the sheer number of writers, of both the self-published and conventionally published variety, who give five-star rating to their own works on sites such as Goodreads. To be honest, I cannot make sense of the gesture in any meaningful way. What is a writer attempting to communicate when they bedeck their own creation with a five-star rating?
In most cases, I believe it is nothing more than a joyful affirmation of accomplishment or an innocent declaration of pride at having written and published - Hey, I have written this book and I think it is just super! Nothing inherently wrong with that, I suppose. Writing and publishing a book of any length is an accomplishment of which one should be proud. There is also nothing inherently wrong with promoting one's book as something of merit that readers will find worthwhile and good. I imagine all writers, myself included, engage in this in some form or other. Nevertheless, in my more cynical moments I surmise that five-star self-ratings are attempts to skew the overall rating of a book to the positive side because a single five-star rating can do wonders to an overall average if a book has only ten or fifteen ratings in total. Perhaps self-rating writers are simple egoists. Who knows?
Despite these attempts to show some understanding, I must admit self-ratings make me physically cringe whenever I stumble across them and I wonder if others feel the same way. I see a writer has given their own work the highest rating possible, I cannot help but think it is little more than shallow self-congratulation. When writers give themselves five stars, it tells me they believe their work to be perfect – that they have perfectly captured the vision in their heads. It reeks of hubris. The act is smug, arrogant, gauche, and pathetic all at once. I would liken it to listing yourself as a reference on a resume - pointless and tactless to say the least.
In my own case, I firmly believe the novel I have written has some merit and is of high quality, but I am unwilling to declare this in the form of five little yellow stars. Firstly, no matter how good I think my novel may be, I know it is merely a transcription of an idea rather than the pure idea itself. The original vision for the book was five stars; hence, my transcription could never be that high. Readers may see it as five stars because, unlike me, they did not experience the vision and idea in its pure form. For them the book is the idea and the vision, so the chance exists that they might perceive it as something worthy of the highest praise. Secondly, though I am proud of my achievement, I acknowledge that it could have been better, that I may not have reached the objective I had set for myself. Finally, I do not believe it is my place to rate the thing I have created. That is an activity for readers and critics. To put it another way, a chef's high opinion of his or her own dish is of little use if the food set before me is not to my taste. In fact, the chef’s high opinion puts me in awkward spot if I happen to find the food disagreeable. I will question either the chef’s taste or my own. In the end, my taste will win regardless.
Concerning my novel, most of the ratings I have received thus far have been positive, but overall they have ranged from five star all the way to one. I think that is fine. If I had to rate my own work, I would do it in the following manner: my book is all the stars in the known universe and the starless void before the Big Bang simultaneously.
In other words, my work is great, and it is nothing.
There is simply no other way I can look it and this underscores the notion that perhaps writers should not be looking at their own work from a self-rating perspective at all.