You want to know something that annoys the ever-loving piss out of me? Now normally I will sit down and just shake my head but this certain topic has popped up more and more and the frequency of it has just boggled my mind. It has become as annoying as a hungry cat in the morning using your warm blanketed feet as target practice. Anyone with cats knows how absolutely aggregating that is! For dogs, it’s as annoying as finding that your dog has eaten your favorite pair of shoes. Yes, yes, that annoying! You’re probably thinking to your self that no topic could be THAT bad, but I assure you that there is.
What topic is it you might ask skeptically?
Books being targeted as the next “X” book. Or the “YA version of….” or “X book meets X Book”
Argg, I can just feel my blood pressure rising at this and here are three ranty reasons why I cannot stand this marketing practice, even though from a purely marketing standpoint it is ingenious and probably won’t change because it SELLS books. But I will be mentioning this point in pretty much everyone of my points and how just because it makes money doesn’t mean it’s the smartest idea for marketing a book.I’m not talking about books that “recommend” for readers who love other books. I love that marketing because I love seeing books that I love being recommended. But here we go anyway.
It’s lazy as fuck.
This is one of my main prickly points about this topic. Now, like I said above, this tactic of comparing something and labeling it the next “x” is ingenious, but that doesn’t stop it from being lazy as fuck. It is taking the success and fan base that another book has amassed and/or author and is hoping with enough luck that these same fanbase will buy this book on purely the recommendation that it is REMOTELY like this “X” book. Where is the work in that? I don’t need to know that this book is going to be the next Game of Thrones or the YA version and other nonsense which leads me to my next point.
Show, don’t tell me.
We expect as readers for authors to show us their story. They’re supposed to work for our attention. Describe settings, events, and even characters emotions instead of just telling us what is happening. By addressing a book as the next “X” its taking the comparison and the enjoyment out of the reader’s hands. It’s telling the readers what to expect and how they should see this book. I hate when authors do it and I hate it in this situation because both are calling the readers stupid. I’m too stupid to actually understand what they want us to know if they just market a book as “high fantasy” or a “riveting and heart wrenching contemporary novel”. But what bothers me most is that by doing this they are not just calling readers stupid but they are not trusting us to make our own decisions about a book. They don’t trust us to love a book for the books sake. Which leads me to my last, but definitely not the least comparison.
Expectation Blindness. It’s a Thing and it Terrifying
I get it, I stated above, I really do understand the principle of this marketing technique. But honestly I feel the possible risk outweighs the gain. Say you have a fanbase for Harry Potter (because lets face it we’re insanely devoted) and you market a book that is the “next Harry Potter”. It’s hyped and everyone loves it and all these people love it. But when they read it they are disappointed. This isn’t anything like Harry Potter. The only thing that’s similar is that there are three friends and they have magic. They spent that entire time trying to figure out why this book was being hailed as the next Harry Potter that they failed to see the exceptional story that this book was. These readers were expecting something and because they didn’t get what they were getting they get angry. They don’t like the book because it fails to meet their expectations and whom do they blame? The publisher? The editor? No, they blame the author for creating what they believe is a weak imitation and thus turn their backs on that author. This creates a bitter feeling in the reader and the less likely they are to believe later on anything that is said about this book. They might not buy it. I’ve gotten burned in the past and this sort of marketing creates an This is an extreme example, but I’m sure as readers we’ve all read books that we have expected to be something that it didn’t turn out to be.
Also, I don’t know about you but if I was an author and I saw that my book was hailed as the next “Game of Thrones” or other such lofty novels I would shit my pants in terror. I mean I have a bit of understanding enough to think that it’s nerve inducing enough to have your BABY out in the open for people to read and hopefully they love it but can’t help but think about the possibility of everyone hating it. I wouldn’t know if I could handle having my novel compared to and expected to be the next book that I grew up loving.
Side note: Let me reiterate, I’m not talking about books that are genuinely recommended for readers who love a certain book. I love those recommendations. It doesn’t scream “This book is AWESOME” quite as loud and there is a sense of vagueness that allows the reader to form their own opinions, good or bad. I don’t want the next “X” book. I want a book that can either sink or swim on its own. If a book’s synopsis doesn’t draw me in than comparing it to a a novel (even one that I love) won’t get me to read it. But I guarentee that I’ve passed on a few books due to them being the next “X” book. Was this the wrong thing to do? Maybe.
I like to think of reading a book as a relationship and I don’t like to feel stupid in relationships.
You don’t have to tell me that you’re the next Brad Pitt. If you are, I’ll figure it out.
Let me know what you think? Do you think that this sort of way of marketing books hinders or helps the sales of books? Do you like it?