FCP Review Standards

Feral Cat Publishers (FCP) believes book reviews should be created for readers, not as paid participation awards for writers/authors/publishers. Our review standard has three components; a short commentary on the book, a traditional 5-star possible rating, and an estimated Fair Market Price (FMP) for the ebook version. The reviews will be posted on Amazon and Goodreads by readers who are unpaid and implement FCP Review Standards.

Short Commentary: Readers looking for a book seldom read long reviews, nor do they want a plot rehash when the blurb is already right there. They are looking for quick facts about the book to support a decision whether to buy the book or not. The reviewer will state whether they liked it, with a short explanation of their star rating and applicable FMP. Reviews approaching 250 words are too long except in very special circumstances.

Star Rating: FCP will use the entire range of star ratings for reviews in an attempt to have the ratings mean something objective.

1 Star: A 1 star rating means the book is a complete disaster and cannot be saved. It may be written in very bad English, poorly formatted, riddled with typos, badly paced, and/or saddled with an incoherent plot. The author should not publish this book under their real name.

2 Star:  A 2 star rating means not all of the 1 star deficiencies are present while some still are.  The English use might be acceptable and a copy edit has clearly been done, but pace, characterisation, or plot are still deficient for example. Books in this category improve dramatically with good editing.

3 Star: A 3 star rating means most of the basic requirements for an acceptable book are in place. Books will be properly formatted with few typos and use decent English. Books in this category are deficient in pace, characterisation, or plot. Authors have taken care of the table stakes for readers, but how well did they tell their story?

4 Star: A 4 star rating means all of the elements are in place for a good reader experience. The story is being told in the best possible way, technically, but may not deliver anything original or unique while doing so. This is a very good rating, for derivative works like fan-fiction, but insufficient if the goal was originality.

5 Star: A 5 star rating means all of the elements are in place for a good reader experience. The story is being told in the best possible way and presents some intangible or transcendent good within the chosen genre. These books will be legitimately on “Best of” lists without a trace of irony.

Fair Market Price: FMP addresses a perceived deficiency in rating platforms for ebook sales platforms. The reviewer will assign a FMP for an ebook title (where the least value-based information exists). It is a subjective rating based on the reviewer’s experience on the buyer side. Essentially the reviewer is saying if the price is equal to the FMP or less, they recommend purchasing the book. Some examples follow:

A 3-Star book has been rated with a FMP of $2.99. If the price on Amazon is $2.99 (or less) the reviewer says buy it. Conversely, if the price on Amazon is $4.99, the reviewer recommends the reader wait for a better value before buying.

A 5-star book from a major publisher has been rated with a FMP of $5.99. The publisher is asking $9.99 for their ebook version. The reviewer is recommending waiting or that the reader consider buying a used print version for less.

FMP only applies to ebooks, because there are some basic economic issues involved with the pricing of print books such as page count, format, and packaging. The cost to produce print books can legitimately vary widely due to those factors. Ebooks, however, cost essentially the same to produce regardless of length (the difference in cost is pennies or fractions of pennies). The operating margin for ebooks far exceeds that of print, however it has not translated into lower prices for readers, especially from major publishers. At some point, it can be more economic to purchase a print book for the same story. FMP tells the reader whether the reviewer considers the book a good value, irrespective of star rating. All 5-star reviewed ebooks are not equally good values.