Intense Publicity How It Affects Reading

I wanted to talk a little bit about hype.

Hype, by my own definition, is the feeling you build inside of people as they await for something. In this context, books.

It’s a very important part of marketing and publicity that there is hype surrounding a book. Sometimes it’s easy; the genre is a popular one, a trendy story line that always hits and never misses with it’s target demographic. Sometimes it’s even easier; the author is well known, award-winning, maybe even world-renowned. And sometimes it’s hard; it’s a debut author, niche subject matter, a risk, but nevertheless a risk the publisher is willing to take.

Hype sells. Hype gets things noticed.

But for me, and fairly often; Hype kills.

I’ve been struggling with this for a long time and I’ve never really known how to put it into words. But, since being very disappointed by a very highly anticipated book recently, I thought it would be time to discuss it.

A lot of the books, shows, movies that I have fallen in love with are often ones that I’ve found on my own. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo was still only circulating in the U.S. where I saw someone on Youtube mention it. I’d never heard of it, nor wereย people constantly talking about it. I found a hardback online for so cheap that I bought it and read it straight away. Que my love. But I often wonder if that would be different if people would not stop recommending it, if it was talked about in every Twitter chat and was announced on everyone’s TBR, if there were giveaways and competitions left, right, and centre. It’s a beautifully written story by a now auto-buy author for me, but would I enjoy it if I say, picked it up now?

Switch to a few days ago, where I had to write a two star review about a book that I’ve been excited for since July last year and have been greatly disappointed by. The plot, the setting, the concept all sounded so promising when I first heard of it. In my review I go into detail about how much the hype ruined the book for me, about how I may have enjoyed it more without the anticipation. It’s probably true; I wouldn’t have scrutinized it so much. My expectations were through the roof from the reviews and the talk around it. But at the same time, would I have? Like I said, I’d heard it once and was initially interested. Imagine, if that was all I heard about it; people didn’t talk about it as much and it wasn’t the subject of every fourth tweet on my Twitter timeline. Does the amount of hype really decide if I like a book or not?

It’s the same with shows too. I tend to enjoy them a lot more when I haven’t been either forced to watch them or pestered by everyone. I don’t watch Game of Thrones. I didn’t watch Breaking Bad, Stranger Things etc because people wouldn’t shut up about them. They’re probably great, but the expectations I now have are so high that I’m not ready to experience the disappointment.

But then am I a part of the hype machine? I do not stop banging on about certain books that I’ve fallen in love with, particularly Jandy Nelson’s books and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. I mention them in almost every chat, bring them up in every conversation about book recommendations. Do I contribute? I suppose, it’s always about the writing; many live up to the hype and many don’t. It depends on the hype too; I remember when Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season was being compared to Harry Potter, and when I read it I couldn’t believe that it had been compared to one of the best selling series of all time. But the second one? When the hype had died down and I’d decided to give it a second chance? Much better! Had the writing improved? Were my expectations way low? Probably a bit of both.

How does hype effect what you read? Are you seduced by the excitement and anticipation, or are you more of a finding a diamond in the rough kind of reader? Are there any hyped books you didn’t enjoy? Let’s talk!

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5 thoughts on “Intense Publicity How It Affects Reading

  1. I’m really glad that hype doesn’t affect me. I still loved Stranger Things, The Song of Achilles, Captain America: Civil War, etc. The only thing that bothers me is that when a book is overhyped, EVERYONE reviews it within a week, and all the posts in my WordPress reader are about the same book. It’s a bit boring. ๐Ÿ˜…

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  2. I feel the same way as you do. Sometimes the hype really kills it for me. I like to discover things on my own and not just because everyone else is reading / watching it. I didn’t start watching Game of Thrones until season 3 had already aired and I haven’t watched Breaking Bad or Stranger Things. Same with books. Everyone was hyped about a Conjuring of Light and Care the Mark but I don’t think I’m going to read those any time soon.

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  3. This is such a great post Hollie! You hit all the main points I’ve been musing over recently, and I often worry that I’ll recommend a book to someone and hype it up too much so that they end up not enjoying it as much as they expected to because I’d built it up too much. Similar to you, I also read a book recently (Lorali) that I’d seen great reviews for from booktubers, and had been rec’d by people on Twitter, but I ended up only giving it 3/5 stars. The plot was unnecessarily slow at times and some of the characters made sexist remarks that went unchallenged throughout the novel. On top of all that, I kept thinking to myself while reading, ‘what was all the fuss about? When is it going to pick up?’ So I definitely agree with you that hype can be damaging, but equally who would we be if we didn’t enthuse about books? If I love a book, I can’t help but tell people how much I like it and I think sharing the hype can be a fun and positive way to engage with others in our community. So there’s definitely negative aspects of hype, but maybe a few positive ones too? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! It’s definitely a balance. When a book has so much exposure that you’re expectations are so high that you can be easily disappointed is rubbish. But you’re right, publicity is important when trying to sell a book and we do a darn good job of it! I try to use my words carefully when raving about a book just so I don’t hype it up too much – I try to talk about how I enjoyed themes/characters etc rather than saying ‘This book was PERFECT. THE BEST THING.’ which is really hard to do sometimes!

      Liked by 1 person

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