Having said that, I am amused by the sheer number of writers, of both the self-published and conventionally published variety, who five-star rate their own works on sites such as Goodreads and Library Thing. In all honesty, this practice makes no sense to me. What is a writer attempting to communicate to potential readers when they garland their own creation with a five-star rating?
In most cases, I feel it is probably nothing more than 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, and one could argue writers have the right to declare their own high opinions of the books they have written.
There is also nothing inherently wrong with promoting one's book as something possessing merit, something that readers might find worthwhile and good. I imagine all writers, myself included, have engaged in this sort of thing in some form or other.
Nevertheless, in my more cynical moments I surmise that five-star self-ratings are little more than attempts to skew the overall rating of a book to the positive side. After all, a five-star rating can do wonders to the overall average of a book if it only has ten or fifteen ratings in total. Then again, perhaps self-rating writers are simply self-aggrandizing egoists. Who knows?
Though I do my best to be understanding and forgiving of five star self-ratings, I must admit they make me cringe, and I often wonder if others feel the same way. When I see a writer has given their own book the highest possible rating online, I can't help but see hubris. Five-star self ratings strike me as smug, arrogant, gauche, and pathetic all at once - akin to listing yourself as a reference on a resume.
I do not rate my own books, and I don't think any writer should. Yes, I think the novel I have written has some merit and is of acceptable 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. I, on the other hand, cannot.
Secondly, though I am proud of my achievement, a part of me always feels it could have been better, that I did not reach 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 best left to 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, I have received some positive ratings, but I have received a fair share of one and two-star ratings as well. And that's fine.
If I were forced to rate my own work, I would do it in the following manner: my book is all the stars in the known universe and no stars at all simultaneously.
In other words, my novel is good, and it is nothing. There is simply no other way I can look my own work, and that's why I have avoided self-rating on sites like Goodreads. It is also why I have such a difficult time wrapping my head around writers who five-star their own books.
Note added: This is a slightly edited version of a previous post published on January 28, 2018.