All the Hype


Hello, lovely reader. It’s time for another discussion here at Of Dragons and Hearts, and this topic is important to me. I’m participating in the Discussion Challenge, so if you want more posts from bookish people chatting about bookish stuff, that’s the place to find them.

illuminaeSo. We’re talking about HYPE today. You know it – it’s the enormous amount of media attention a very anticipated book gets AHEAD of its publication date. Usually, this doesn’t mean a book by Stephen King or George R. R. Martin – they are established writers that will sell a bazillion books regardless of what their publishers do with the publicity (seriously, if Winds of Winter was only sold at the top of Mount Everest, people would hike up there to get it).

What I’m talking about are books by relatively new authors that need a push to help with their visibility. In the current publishing industry, hundreds of books get published every month (and that’s only in the US market, I’m sure the worldwide count would be in the high thousands), so it’s very, very unlikely that a book will “make it” unless it has a very good marketing campaign.

So publishers start creating the hype. They make the cover as aesthetically pleasing as possible. They let the author loose on social media, make book banners, announce the publication date, make bookmarks and book trailers – all this before readers (any readers, that is) even get their hands on the story. And then they send out the advanced reader’s copies (ARCs). And the bookish world explodes, because book bloggers are amazing people who are happy to shout their love for the book from the rooftops for free. There are plans for blog tours, hashtags on social media, and before long, every reader who is the slightest bit plugged into the bookish community has heard of the book before it even hits the shelves. This is what a good marketing campaign looks like.


And then the publication date comes and the book becomes available to you and you get your hands on it and … you don’t like it as much as you thought you would. And you start questioning yourself – did you miss something that others saw in this book? Then, if you trust your own opinion at all, you question the reviews you read – were they honest in reviewing the book? Were they critical enough?

queen-of-shadows-maasI think the answer to these questions is that there was simply too much hype. I’ve written about high expectations before – about expecting too much from your favourite authors. This is a similar case. You build yourself an idealized version of the book, based on what you can glean about the story from the blurb, and there is simply no way a book can hit all your expectations (or everyone’s expectations, for that matter).

I’m not saying that book bloggers who rate the book very highly are in any way biased by the fact that they got a free ARC! It’s just that publicists are clever. They won’t send a sci-fi YA thriller to a blogger who mainly reviews historical romances. They target their audience carefully for maximum effect (as they should, it’s their job!).

This is why I’m always wary of over-hyped books. I don’t want to have unreasonable expectations but if I see only 5-star reviews throughout the blogosphere, I am very suspicious. I will usually wait a month or so, wait for the more nuanced reviews to come through so I can hear both sides of the story. Of course I often fall for the hype, too. I do. And I am, sadly, disappointed all too often. There have been gems, naturally, absolutely perfect books that are very popular, but they seem to be the exception to the rule.


I’ve thought of simply refusing to read new books. That’s one way of avoiding over-hyped books – you wait and see what happens. But I LIKE new shinies, I often can’t resist buying them. And there’s one other factor to consider: the first couple of weeks (a month or so) after the publication of a book are extremely important for the author’s future. If the book doesn’t take off in that first month, it probably won’t become a huge bestseller later on, because new books will take its place. So if I want to support the author, it’s best to buy the book immediately or even pre-order it. Do you see my problem? :)

I have no good answer to it, though. I have learned to trust several bloggers who often get highly coveted ARCs, they have similar tastes and I can usually count on liking a book they recommended. This is why I love reading other blogs! They save me from (most of) the pain of reading disappointing books.


So. What about you? Do you worry about the hype?

Do you buy all the new books or do you wait for the reviews of your trusted friends?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Follow me: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

  • I don’t buy books and rely solely on what my library gets in, so I have a different perspective than most :) I also don’t do ARCs or read other people’s reviews until After I read the book myself, so I’m wonderfully oblivious to hype :)

    • Oh, that must be amazing, being able to get all the books you want at the library. I mostly read in English and while our libraries do hold some English books, the selection isn’t nearly as varied as I’d wish (obviously, some 90% books are in Slovenian).
      I don’t read (or request) a lot of ARCs, either, I like reading stuff without obligation. But I cave sometimes! :)
      I also don’t read reviews for books I KNOW I will read, because I hate spoilers, but I somehow get dragged into the whole hype thing through social media or something.
      I think you’re very lucky and/or successful at not stressing yourself out! :)

    • Huh, that’s a good system! I just don’t think I’d be able to resist haha!

  • You know, I don’t really worry about hype too much. I mean, I may be more likely to pick up a book if I hear a lot of people saying good things about it, but I also feel like I have a pretty good idea of what I want in a book.

    However, sometimes my expectations are too high, but that’s usually not because of hype.

    • That’s a great approach to new books, really. I never know what to expect – from new-to-me authors, especially! Then I have to rely on other people’s opinons and book blurbs, which are designed to snare my attention. :)

  • Great topic! I feel like I fell for hype a lot last year and read way to many ARCs that were really not worth the time. This year I’m trying to pay less attention to hype and read less ARCs. Let’s see if I’m successful!

    • Thanks! :) Yeah, I’m only requesting ARCs I would read regardless – if I get to read them ahead of publication date, that’s wonderful, and if not, I’ll buy them anyway and read them soon.

      I wish you lots of success – I’m also trying to read more classics and books I already own.

  • When I first started blogging, I found that I was more easily swept away by hype. I’d see tons of glowing reviews for a new release and instantly add it to my tbr shelf, wishlist…etc. But. After so many times of reading those books and ending up a black sheep – I reigned it in. I cut WAY down on my arc requests for one…but then I still was given copies at BEA. Last year with Illuminae, I purposely DIDN’T read it straight away. OR when the early reviews started flowing in. I was HUGELY skeptical about that book, so I’d almost brainwashed myself that I wouldn’t like it. I waited till the hype died down as you said^^ and I paid attention when the much-less glowing reviews came around. When I felt like the hype had died down enough? I finally read it and loved it, but it could easily have gone the other way for me. I’m VERY weary of massive hype now but some of those bad boys just can’t be ignored :)

    • Yeah, maybe I’m only getting to this stage of things now that my blog isn’t all that new anymore and I’ve stopped feeling the pressure of having to read all the new and shiny books in order to grow my following or something. I’m more relaxed with what and how much I read, I think.

      And YES, I know, how can I ignore the new Maas books or whatever comes by that I have to have immediately? I’ll have to keep trying to find a balance! :)

  • Maraia

    I understand the need for hype and how helpful it can be for authors, but man, sometimes I really hate it. Sometimes the problem is that the book can never live up to expectations (either those set by other people or the ones I’ve built up in my head) and sometimes it’s just that I get so sick of seeing the same book over and over again. Or seeing people’s status updates with gasps of horror or exclamations of joy, etc.

    Since I don’t buy books, I don’t have to worry about deciding if I’ll pre-order or not, but I do request a ton from the library and try to be the first person on the hold list, because I much rather read them when they are new, clean, and bad smell-free. Often this means I’m still reading books on or near release date. It’s nice that I don’t have to feel guilty for DNF’ing an over-hyped book, but there are definitely times when I think I would like them more if I waited longer.

    I’m curious to know who your trusted bloggers are! If it’s a super hyped YA fantasy novel, I often turn to Anya’s reviews, because she’s more critical of them. Other than that, I definitely rely on the opinions of friend-bloggers whose reading preferences I’ve gotten to know.

    • Haha, yeah, I get that – when I saw Truthwitch on EVERY. SINGLE. BLOG this past month, I just clicked “mark as read” in my reader and skipped reading the reviews because the hype was bad enough as it was. I’ll probably wait for book 2 of that series before starting it to see if it goes well.

      Oh YES the bad smell of library books… I used to buy books exclusively just for this reason – I HATED the fact that someone had perhaps licked their fingers when turning the pages or something. *shudder* And let’s not mention the questionable stains that sometimes occur… But then I got to Uni and buying every single book I needed was simply too much, so I got used to reading library books and now I’m happy to borrow them if our libraries have what I want (they most often don’t so I still buy most of the books I read but yeah).

      Umm well I trust you. :D I know you’re not a blogger (yet? I’ll talk to you about that in the e-mail once I find some time to write it) but you’re a great source of recommendations (I just ordered The Demon King today, I can’t wait!).
      Other than you, I trust Danya of Fine Print, Becky of A Fool’s Ingenuity (especially for romances, both adult and YA). I also seem to share a similar taste with Jolien from The Fictional Reader, Micheline from Lunar Rainbows, and Alicia from A Kernel Of Nonsense. Oh, and Mogsy from The Bibliosanctum for SFF books for sure! Yeah and Anya (if we’re talking Starships and Dragonwings?) usually has really nice reviews, too.
      Who do you trust? :)

      • Maraia

        Mm, waiting for book 2 is a good idea, actually. I’ve heard the book starts off rough and gets better, which means the sequel could go either way. I really want to like a Susan Dennard book, because she’s so nice, but I’m worried that I’m not going to. I’m looking forward to seeing Danya’s thoughts! Anya liked it, though.

        STOPPPP, I don’t want to hear that. XD But oh god, the questionable stains. *shudders* I guess it’s convenient that your library doesn’t usually have the books you want, haha.

        Yay! <3 I just finished my audio re-read of The Demon King. I wasn't paying as much attention, because audiobooks are so easy to zone out to, but I still liked it a lot, and the rest of the series gets even better. Are you planning to read it soon after you get it?

        Wow, I don't know most of those blogs/bloggers you mentioned! I will have to look them up. I know Danya, of course, and I follow Mogsy's reviews on Goodreads (I saw her commenting on your blog a lot, so that seemed a good recommendation, haha), but that's it. Yes, Anya from Starships and Dragonwings. Let's see…I trust you (as long as it's not a romance novel :P), Sebastian, Crini, and Sana when you guys say something is good, and then there are other bloggers I know well enough by now to be able to use their reviews to gauge if I'll like a book or not.

        • You should check out those bloggers, maybe you’ll discover a new favourite. I think we discussed this already – I like “small” blogs, too, it’s easier to connect with them.

          And yeah, I’m in the middle of a massive reading slump (still no 5-star books in 2016 and my reading has really slowed down for some reason) so I’m waiting for the new shinies to arrive in the mail next week and then I won’t be seen for a while. :)

          • Maraia

            I’ve added them to Feedly! I already commented on a discussion post of Jolien’s, haha. It looks like most of them reply to comments, which as you know is one of the first things I check when I find a new blog. :P

            Oh no! Do you think your 3-to-1 rule is partially to blame? I hope your new books bring you out of the slump. :D

          • Nah, I don’t think it’s the 3-to-1 rule, I actually have really good books lined up, but I’m just not taking enough time to read these days so it’s hard to really “fall into” a story if you’re reading 2 pages at a time right before you fall asleep. *sigh* Life gets in the way sometimes.

  • I’ve been bitten once or twice by high expectations…I mean, I probably would have rated the book the same without the hype, but having been excited in the first place makes it more disappointing? The thing I’ve learned is to trust my gut feeling. 9.9 times out of 10, if the cover/synopsis doesn’t grab me, I should probably stay away, no matter how excited other people get.

    • EXACTLY. All the anticipation makes the disappointing experience much worse, I think. I sometimes really want to love a book, but it just doesn’t meet my standards (that’s my problem, usually, not the book’s/author’s).

      Oh, yeah, that’s true as well. I definitely judge books by their covers – though to be honest, 95% of all romance novel covers are HIDEOUS and I still like reading them! :D

  • LOL, you are so right about Winds of Winter. People would do *anything* to get that book.

    After a few bad experiences with overhyped books, my new strategy is to just block my eyes and ears to all the hype surrounding upcoming titles. That way, I only read books that sound good to me based on a) the plot or b) the author’s rep instead of reading the books that the publishing industry thinks I should like. I know a lot of people were really disappointed by ACOTAR, for example, but I completely ignored all the hype for that one and only recently bought it (for $1.99 on Kindle, hell yes!). I have no expectations going in, so there’s nothing crazy to live up to. Kind of like Maraia said, I think I’ll enjoy it more than some people did because I’ve waited a while to read it and the hype has basically dissipated.

    I’m reading Truthwitch right now, which is another book that’s gotten a lot of hype. Honestly, I think the reception of the book by bloggers is going to be negatively impacted by the hype. Not because it’s a bad book, but because it’s a good book that’s being touted as the “BEST THING EVER.” I’m enjoying it a lot more than some of my friends have, simply because my expectations were pretty neutral going in. I get that publishers need hype to sell books, but personally I don’t think those campaigns should be directed towards bloggers. We’ll hear about the books we want to be reading by word of mouth, we don’t need insane ad campaigns that overhype books!

    • Yeah I get the blocking of hype strategy but then I feel like I’m doing an injustice to poor bloggers who read and review these books for their readers (which include me). I don’t even know.

      Oooh, I wonder what you’ll think of ACOTAR. I gave it a 3.5, I think, but I’ll still be reading book 2. I’m pretty excited about it, actually (that’s one book that will definitively get loads of hype).

      Ah, yes, Truthwitch… I’m probably going to wait a while (maybe even until the publication of Book 2 or the rest of the series) before I start with it, so I can see if it holds up. Yeah, hype can definitively hurt a books’s reception and reputation. No book is the best thing ever for everyone.

      And yeah, I agree with your point about book bloggers – but then book bloggers are probably a huge source of info for non-blogging people (especially those “big” blogs with 3k followers) and they basically promote the books for free so from the publisher’s point of view, hyping up the books to bloggers definitely makes sense. I don’t know, it’s really convoluted! :D

  • Hype is a good thing for the authors of those books, definitely. And for us readers, it can be more than frustrating when they let us down. More often than not, I’ll fall for the hype, check out the book, and if I like the premise, join the craziness too; and if I’m not too interested, I try to distance myself so I don’t get the urge to buy it just because everyone’s talking about it. :)

    • Yeah, that’s it: the disappointment is worse when your expectations are too high!
      I don’t fall for hyped-up books outside my preferred genres but if it’s a shiny new YA fantasy novel or something, I’ll usually go for it. :)

  • Nicole Hewitt

    I haven’t been burned too many times like this, but I definitely get your frustration. It’s hard to temper high expectations! I do think that hype isn’t such a bad thing most of the time, though. I’ve found some fantastic books because lots of people raved about them!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    • Yep, that’s it exactly! My expectations get out of control too often.

      But yes, of course, book hype is NECESSARY for getting the word out and I wouldn’t change the blogging world one bit, I love hearing about new books this way. It’s more my own problems that are bothering me. :)

  • I often fall for marketing campaigns. I see lots of hype, know deep down that I really shouldn’t get my expectations up, and I buy new books right away. I often don’t pick up these new books immediately but when I get to them, I re-live the hype I’d previously read about on blogs. Like you, sometimes I totally get the hype but other times I put down books disappointed.
    I also find it difficult because on one hand, I want to join in with the hype whilst it lasts, but on the other it’s nice to forget how much others loved a book and go in with neutral expectations.
    I agree with you about there being no good answer! I guess all we can do is try and read only the books we really like the sound of, and if they happen to have hype then we can join in!
    Great discussion and thanks for getting me thinking! : )

    • Yep, that’s exactly how it goes with me! :) I want to be “one of the cool kids” and talk about the books that everyone talks about when they’re still hot – but this is both horrible because of the hype and terrible for my wallet. Oh, well.
      And yeah, trying to find a good balance is all I can think of as a solution. I just pre-ordered a HIGHLY anticipated second book in the series so I’m never going to NOT read new books. :)

  • I often end up curious about a book anyway if the post-release reviews are mixed. I’m contrary that way…

    • Eh, I feel like if my trusted bloggers don’t like it (and I read the actual reviews, not just the star ratings), I usually won’t bother because life’s just too short. Unless it’s a favourite author of mine, then I’ll probably give them a chance or something. It’s difficult to decide! :) (Oh the problems readers have, huh?)

  • I continually worry about the hype with books. Are people building it up to be something it’s not or is it genuinely a good book worth buying? How are you ever to know? I manage to hype myself up about a book even when I have the ARC and it sucks. Hype is good and bad and I think you have to just take it as it comes. Some books get over inflated in their greatness and you are disappointed, but some books smash all expectations even with the vast amount of hype.

    I am getting better at avoiding some of the hype and just making my own decisions on buying books, but it’s hard. I think hype is both good and bad and I’ll just take each book as it comes. I try and read reviews from people I trust, but then even that is no guarantee. I find the only way it works is to read books when I’m ready for them. That can sometimes mean I read it on the day of the release, or it could mean I read it 4 years after it was released when the hype is all but forgotten.

    • I don’t really know how to tell if a hyped-up book is worth it. I mean, I trust some bloggers enough to believe them when they say a book is worth it but I don’t know how to decide before the first reviews arrive. I mean, so much depends on how much money the publisher throws at the publicity campaign! Nothing makes me happier than reading a really popular book and LOVING it (like Fangirl, for example).

      I’m trying to implement a similar strategy – I no longer request as many ARCs (not that I got many before but still) and I’m trying to read whatever suits my mood: that way, I’m sure to enjoy the story to the fullest.

  • This is such a great discussion! I feel like I kind of do both – I prioritize the reviews of the people I know have similar tastes to me, but I also get a hyped book once in a while too. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! <3

    • Thanks, Zoe! :)
      Yeah, I can’t help it, I often get hyped-up books, too. If I see more than one blogger I trust raving about it, I’m even more inclined to buy it. Book bloggers are awesome for book promotion.

  • Pingback: Ten Interesting Posts of the Week (2/21/16) – Pages Unbound()

  • I’m absolutely wary of book hype because more often than not, I’ve been burned by it. It has the tendency of making a book that is generally pretty good (and worth of a solid three stars in my rating scale) become something I don’t want to finish or worthy of a reluctant two stars because the book doesn’t live up to expectations. So, when it comes to reading book reviews, there are only a handful of bloggers that I truly trust. Like…7 bloggers if I’m lucky. And I subscribe to almost 100 blogs! Sometimes it’s like dodging landmines.

    Instead, I usually pick up the books that fly under the radar, but if I feel compelled to pick up a hyped book, I usually won’t pick it up until a year or more after it’s release date.

    • Haha, the landmine analogy is pretty accurate! And yeah, finding bloggers to trust is really hard – I read some of the blogs for their discussions, others write great reviews but have a completely different taste… So yeah, I have about 7 trusted people, too. :D

      Mhm, waiting for the hype to die down a bit is a good strategy, I just can’t control my urge to have the new shinies sometimes. Finding a balance is key, I think.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jackie! :)

  • If I like an author, then I like getting caught up in the hype of their new book. It’s fun to play along and ride the wave of excitement, to post your review and be a part of the conversation. Plus I despise spoilers and so sometimes if a book has a lot of hype then I want to read it right after release so I can read other people’s reviews and comment without being spoiled.

    But generally (and this is going to sound like a contradiction) I don’t like hype. It’s exactly what you said – you get all excited and then the book disappoints and it’s even worse than if you hadn’t been excited at all. I mitigate this by managing my own expectations. Sure, it might have a glorious cover. And everyone else might love it. But unless it’s a trusted blogger/friend, like you mentioned, just because they loved it doesn’t mean I’ll love it. So, that reduces the hype some for me :)

    • Yeah, I get that – I just bought and immediately read Victoria Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows – both because I wanted to support her book and because I was so afraid I’d read a spoiler! I hate those, too.

      Too much hype can definitely ruin the reading experience for me. But I’m a sucker for pretty covers, so I get drawn in – and kudos to the cover designers. :)