Hype has a way of attracting yet repelling readers. If a lot of hype surrounds a book, it’s only natural to be curious and to want to be part of it. After all, if so many people love a book, it holds a lot of promise for anyone who has yet to read it. On the other hand, those sky-high expectations pose a danger of greater disappointment if you don’t come to love the book like everyone else.
What Pre-Publication Hype Entails
Pre-publication hype is more specific. It’s about the hype prior to the release of books. Such hype could be generated via various means: blog tours, review copies, giveaways, author interviews, author tours, etc. Sometimes the hype also simply stems from a book being a highly anticipated sequel after the previous book was a hit or from being published by a popular author.
By being visible in every imaginable sphere and reminding everyone of their existence, hyped up books are difficult to escape. Even if you have no interest in a book, subconsciously you would still know about it. You’d be able to recognise that cover anywhere, you know who wrote it and what the book is about. In other words, pre-publication hype saturates our minds with books most of us aren’t even able to get hold of yet.
Benefits of Pre-Publication Hype
Most importantly, the word is out about an upcoming book. Readers are excited and plan/budget to buy the book, if not even pre-order it. Pre-orders and first week sales have a huge impact on a book’s success. It’s no wonder that authors urge reads to pre-order. They explain how pre-orders matter, noting that while the publishers’ metrics aren’t very transparent, pre-orders are a definitive metric.
If you’re a reader who particularly loves an author, it is in your interest to spread the word, so that more people will support your favourite author. Pre-publication hype can thus elevate a book to much greater success than the absence of such hype.
Hype and Fatigue
As beneficial as pre-publication hype might be, I also think it can reach a point that people become tired of hearing about a book. Personally, all the hype sometimes even confuses me. When the hype becomes so widespread that I encounter it from all directions, I start to get the impression that the book has already been published. How else could the hype have become so ubiquitous?
Then I get pulled back down to earth whenever I read the latest Hitting Shelves Today post by Asma on Icey Books. Every other week I see books on the list that make me wonder, Hasn’t this book been out for weeks?! only to realize, nope, it’s just the pre-publication hype that exploded and made me think that everyone and their neighbours have long read it.
In such cases I also lose interest because then I feel like I’m reading a book simply because everyone has read it and not because I genuinely want to. I’ve read a few of such popular books purely because of the hype and ended up not being impressed. For example, I gave The Fault in Our Stars 3 stars, Anna and the French Kiss 2 stars and We Were Liars 1 star.
All three books are very popular and the hype made me like those books even less because at the back of my mind I couldn’t comprehend why everyone loves them so much. Unfair to the books, I know, but readers are humans and therefore social beings who are inevitably influenced by others.
Tired of Waiting
The other problem I’ve noticed more and more people experience is being over a book by the time it hits the shelves. In such cases the pre-publication hype built such an intense anticipation, that the anticipation burnt out before even getting to read those books one had been so excited about.
Spoilers Killing Surprises
While this drawback isn’t that rampant based on personal observations, it can be problematic when it does happen. Several readers receive ARCs (advanced reader copies) and get so excited, they can’t contain themselves and they start squealing on Twitter and next thing you know, they start to discuss parts of the book. Some reviewers also end up giving away too much in their book reviews.
Nothing turns me off more than spoilers. Allegiant is the prime example for me. I pre-ordered it but only received it three weeks after publication. I took great care to avoid any semblance of spoilers until I came across an innocent-looking blog post about book covers and that person mentioned the plot twist for the whole world to see.
I still haven’t read Allegiant When I do read it (hopefully May or June), it’ll not be because I loved Divergent and Insurgent. It will be because I feel obligated to read a book I paid good money for.
Symptom of Book Blogging?
What struck me was that prior to blogging I wasn’t very much affected by hype, much less pre-publication hype. I read only two book blogs on a semi-regular basis — usually then when I was looking for recommendations. I’m guessing the same goes for many bibliophiles who don’t engage much in social media. They won’t be reading a hundred book blogs with overlapping content. If they only read a couple of blogs, there’s not much that could amount to hype. They can go forth and be excited about that upcoming book they otherwise might not have heard of.
Actually, I kind of hate every type of hype. It just makes me wary. I do like to get excited about an upcoming book, but for me personally, it’s getting too much out there. My expectations are getting higher and higher and in the end, I’m disappointed. I prefer getting into a novel without having much expectations.
I have to confess, I never read blog tour posts. I just can’t stand them. I also hate it when suddenly a book is reviewed on about every blog I follow. It just makes me lose interest. I’m basically surfeited before the books even out, so it’s basically the opposite publishers want to achieve.
I had a similar experience with Anna. Everyone loved it, my expectations grew, but in the end, it was just 3 stars for me. I liked it, but it was nothing special to me. Same with Allegiant. I also haven’t read it yet and although no one ever explicitly stated what was happening, it took me about two tweets that had only vague illusions to figure out what was going on.
And yes, I have to admit that I’m also a little jealous about all the people getting ARCs. I know I probably wouldn’t read them at once because, well, there are so many books to choose from, and I’m also not much of a reviewer, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to have them. I know that it’s important for publishers to create that buzz and I can ignore that little jealous voice – at least most of the times. What I really can’t stand are ARCs of sequels in popular series. I was livid when the ARCs of Cress surfaced. I wanted that book so so so badly.
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Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity says
Ugh my god YES pre-publication hype wears me out. I feel like I am 100% over the book without even having picked it up. I feel like I know practically everything there IS to know about the book without even having picked it up. Pre-publication hype just generally gets me down.
And, like you, I usually view the book with a harsher view if it has hype than if it does not. No, that’s not particularly fair, but the world is not fair. And, thus, I generally do not love these hyped up books as much as everyone else. Sure, there are some exceptions to this, but to be honest, that usually happens only if I have managed to remove myself from the hype and read the book before I know the majority of everyone else’s views on it.
But most of the time, I don’t love the book as much as everyone else. e.g. Throne of Glass, and The Fault in Our Stars. Probably the two most loved books in the blogging community, and I gave ToG two stars, and TFiOS a mere three. I am a harsh reader :P
As for whether this is a purely book bogging thing? I say yes. I discovered books through browsing the shelves at my library or bookstore before I started blogging. I didn’t read any blogs, and I didn’t interact with bookish people on social media. The only hyped up books that I was aware of were the ones that were being made into movies.
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Hype makes you doubt. Case in point: me and SJ Maas. I find her books decent, but I’m not raving over them at all, and I wonder if that’s me not giving in to the hype or I just really don’t like it that much at all.
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Hi Joséphine, this is Maraia who played Mafia with you. :)
I’m not a blogger, but over the last few years since I joined Goodreads and have started following more and more book blogs, pre-publication hype has definitely changed my reading habits and expectations.
Obviously I love hearing about new books and enjoy the pre-publication excitement to some extent (I miss the good old days of Harry Potter releases), but often I’m get sick of hearing about and seeing reviews for over-hyped books. Sometimes they do live up to expectations, but often I end up feeling a bit let down by the time I finally read a book. Either I’ve heard so much about it that I wonder why I even bothered reading it or, by the time I do read it, I’ve lost interest. As you mentioned, it’s sometimes hard to tell if I’m reading a book because I genuinely think I’ll like it or because “everyone” in the blogosphere is hyping it. Also, since I’m more aware of new books, I feel a constant pressure to read more! more! more! instead of taking my time and enjoying the books as I read them. Anticipation can be exhausting.
I did a discussion on a topic similar to this recently! I totally agree that pre-pub hype can build up a book way too much, especially when every blog post on my feed is about the same book over and over again. A recent example for me was Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which sounded good in January, when there were just a few reviews, but now I am already over it and I haven’t even picked it up yet! Most of the time, I just dread picking it up, plus my expectations by that time are typically so high that I won’t like the book.
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Natalie @ Flowers in my Books says
I’m not always on top of New Releases so pre-publication hype is welcomed sometimes. I like knowing that there’s a new book coming out that everyone is excited for and it does spark my interest. I’m not one, though, to read a book just because everyone says that they love it if I’m not interested in it. No matter how curious I am. I’m usually sure about what books I read – I know what I like and what I enjoy so it’s not often that a book disappoints me.
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That’s true. Sometimes I do manage to live under a rock and not hear of a book until my feed reader explodes on publication day with a title I don’t recognize, which then compels me to check it out.
I think the sociologist in me can’t help it. I must know what makes people tick, so I sometimes do pick up a book purely because everyone loves it, regardless of whether or not I’m interested in it. In those cases I read not so much for personal enjoyment but rather in order to understand in which direction trends in publishing might be moving.
Nova @ Out of Time says
Sometimes I’ll be like “omg there’s so much hype” and then I go to my bloglovin and everyone’s reviewing the same book. For example, Red Queen. SO MUCH hype for it and so many mixed reviews.
I get tired from pre-publication hype because i see people freak over releases and i don’t even care, whether i’ve read it or not because of the hype.
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Hahaha. Yeah, whenever I see a whole row of book reviews for the same book on Feedly, I automatically mark them all as read, then move on to peruse other blog posts.
Interesting topic! I never had a problem with book hype per se before. Although I can relate as I’ve experienced this with TFIOS film adaptation. I’ve heard other people say, if the hype is too much, they hold down reading the book in question after the hype has died/diminished. And, yes, prior to blogging, I’m not touched, neither did I care, about hype. But now, it’s quite fascinating how it works.
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I haven’t even watched the movie of TFiOS. Haha. I wanted to read the book first and after I did, I had no interest in subjecting myself to the film adaptation.
Anyway, as fascinated as you are by the hype, don’t you think that it impacts you at least a little? Such as which books you end up reading or decide not to read? Or maybe your response towards reading a book, while knowing how crazy popular it might already be?
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Oh yeah, I’m not saying that it doesn’t affect me. I’m fascinated by it, but it affects me. Especially because I don’t think I would’ve picked up books I’ve read in the past two years if the hype machine didn’t put them in my radar. Some are favorites now though.
Jess @My Reading Dress says
Oh yeah, I’m so, so with you Jo. Like Sana, I’ve been thinking about this lately and in fact, I was thinking about it last night as I talked to a friend before bed.
I feel like now that a lot of companies have really tapped into to blogging as publicity the pre-pub deal has gone absolutely crazy. And a lot of it is really, really positive. Omg, that sounds horrible, as though I’m dying for a negative review. But damn, a lot of it is really rainbow and sunshines and I can’t help but wonder, is it a perfect book then? What I wouldn’t mind is positive reviews that still point out this and that but hey, perfection is in the eye of the beholder…ok no, the truly cynical me is coming out and SERIOUSLY?? CAN SOMETHING BE SO PERFECT?????? Which is why I hate reading pre-publication reviews…bar like one person. Because I know that she and I have pretty much completely similar tastes. Other than that, I don’t exactly read pre-pub reviews unless I myself have read the book and would like to compare thoughts. I’m aware of the hype though and honestly, it even makes me more apprehensive, even when it’s an arc I’m about to dig into (because I read mine so much closer to publication date). Completely turns me off sometimes but I’ll admit, I guess I’ve been guilty of doing it, you know?
Sure, I’ll like what I like, BUT this whole pre-publication shebang can really waste a lot of TIME. Because out of fear, I’ll put things off. And there’s just not enough time in the world right now for crap like that.
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I’m with you. I read pre-publication reviews only from a select few bloggers. For the most part because I know I can get good sense of whether or not I would like the book. Another reason is that I’m paranoid about spoilers. I suppose part of the reason that you see all the positive reviews praising books to the sky is that people who didn’t love those books as much tend to hold off posting their reviews till a bit later — usually after the book has already been published.
In any case, I would rather spend time reading reviews of books that I can get my hands on without having to wait two or three months till they’re finally published. I can worry about those books later.
I really agree with you. I’ve always been a huge reader but since I’ve started book blogging earlier this year, I’ve noticed the *huge* amount of hype that precedes some book publications.
It’s a hard situation because if a book is good, then it should definitely be promoted because it deserves the recognition. But at the same time, book reviews and tours and so much build up will definitely affect the future readers’ perception – with either a positive or a negative influence. It can lead to more disappointment if you didn’t like it and it can make you feel worse about a book that normally you would have loved.
Thanks for your post and your thoughts! I really like your discussion posts because they’re laid out so clearly and are so thorough.
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You started blogging fairly recently. Did you read book blogs before that? If you did, did you already notice that kinda hype then?
I’m glad you’re enjoying my discussion posts, Carlisa! :)
No, I never really followed book blogs before! I mostly got my recs and read reviews on Goodreads. But I love them and read them everyday now! :)
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Alexa S. says
I try really hard to not let pre-publication hype get into my brain too much when it comes to books that I find myself excited for (like The Wrath and the Dawn, or The Storyspinner, for instance). If I feel like I can’t separate myself from my hype feelings, I often put off reading the novels in question until my natural curiosity draws me to them and the hype has died down a fair bit.
I will admit that I definitely participate in pre-publication hype, particularly for titles I’ve loved! I’ve been trying to show a bit more restraint with titles that I’m excited about that I may have read early, especially because I try to think about those readers who won’t get their hands on the novel for some time yet. I do think it has its pros and its cons; I also think pre-pub hype is unavoidable. But it’s definitely something to think about, particularly as a member of the book blogging community!
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I do that too, holding off till my curiosity gets the better of me. It just makes me a little sad when I was so excited that I got the book early and end up putting it off for a year or more.
You’re right that it’s unavoidable and I do believe that it is important, so people know what books they should look out for. But everything in moderation, no? Plus, most people don’t have a longterm memory when it comes to books releasing over a month after they read a book review of it on someone’s blog. Sometimes I feel people show their excitement a bit too soon on social media, which then tends to escalate out of proportion.
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Sana // artsy musings of a bibliophile says
Lately, pre-publication hype is something that’s been on my mind a lot. 2015 sure seems like the year for pre-publication hype. First, the ARCs of A Court of Thorns and Roses have been around since last year. Also, I know so many people who have already read it and it has still yet to be released! Good thing that I’m so very in love with Maas’s books that I’m still looking forward to reading something new from her.
Another thing is that I really do try hard not to let the hype get to me but it doesn’t always work. Red Queen is a prime example of this. I was so, so excited for it and then the blogosphere exploded with all the hype. I read it in January and thought it was okay. This is something that’s also really disappointing because I never not want to like a book. I guess, as a reader, we should be used to this but I don’t think I ever will.
However, like you, getting spoiled really puts me off a book or series as it happened with Allegiant to so many of us. Good thing I like to finish series and move on because I know I won’t have any peace of mind if I don’t.
So yes, pre publication hype really does wear me out sometimes.
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Yeah, I’ve been noticing the influx of pre-publication hype over the recent months compared to two years ago. I think it’s important for books to be seen and hear about but the time frame and volume needs to be moderated.
I have Red Queen on my shelf and I’m very curious how I’ll like it. I’ve mostly managed to turn a blind eye to anything that mentioned the book online. I added it to be TBR pile based on the synopsis alone before the cover had even been revealed, so I want to enjoy it as though it’s a book I discovered for myself.