Here’s a mildly relevant topic that has been plaguing me recently.
Okay, so I have been thinking for the past few days how marketing can be so important for the way the book is perceived and then also, how well it does because of that. So I thought it’d be a fun thing to chat about with you all.
Where is this coming from?
I think this whole train of thought started way back when A Court of Thorns & Whatever came out. This book was definitely marketed as a YA, and a part of that marketing strategy was very intentional, but a lot of it came from the fact that the writer already had an established place and audience in the YA community. However, if the reviews are to be trusted, this book is definitely not YA – I think even in the age range of the characters it overshoots YA, but I also think people were saying that the way it explores certain themes is more New Adult than YA. And this had very important consequences, especially in terms of how well the book did, and also the kind of audience it attracted (hence leading to a YA box including dick soap, but I digress).
Genres and age groups are specific marketing strategy
And the whole YA “genre” is a marketing strategy, and a good one that really worked. I think YA is so popular right now, and the genre lines of it are getting kind of blurred, which is an interesting thing to see play out. I think marketing a book as YA or as Adult sets up readers’ expectations for said book, and when a book is marketed poorly, readers’ expectations are not met, which leads to more negative reviews.
And I think sometimes marketing a book in a specific genre can be it’s demise. For example, you guys know how much I hate the existence and marketing of the Women’s Fiction genre. It should not be a thing, but that’s a different post. When Big Little Lies was coming out, it was marketed as Women’s Fiction and I think that lead to a lot of people dismissing it, when in fact that book did a fantastic job at portraying women’s domestic lives in such a nuanced and literary superior way. It also did a really great job at showing domestic abuse in all its awfulness even when it seems it’s “not that bad”. But the book ultimately was marketed as Women’s Fiction and in a specific way, when it should in fact be read widely.
Comps are sometimes the best and sometimes the worst
Comparing a book to Harry Potter, or Gillian Flynn or Margaret Atwood is a really popular marketing strategy. Just recall how many times you’ve seen “the next Gone Girl” and how many times that has failed you. I think marketing a book with a certain comparison can draw many people in, but I also think it can lead to more negative reviews, if such expectations are not met.
Books need to sell
The sad truth is that publishing (much like everything else these days) is an industry, and books need to sell. Which means they need to be marketed in a certain way, most frequently the one that leads to most sales. However, this can definitely alienate certain readers, or even lead to people disliking books purely because their expectations were not meant.
So those are some thoughts on book marketing and how it can affect a perception of the book in the book community as a whole. I really hope you enjoyed this and I would love to hear from you – did a book’s marketing ever lead to you disliking it or even avoiding it? What are your thoughts on the way marketing can affect a book? I’d love to know!
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