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rant: the hype monster

The other day I was rearranging my bookshelf when I saw a few books cast off to the bottom corner. I pulled them out with a frown and sigh and went to post them up on Paperback Swap. These aren't bad books, mind you. They were enjoyable enough and alright, I would even call them pretty good, but they weren't good enough. These books had been hyped up to such a high level that I was prepared for the second, third, fourth, and fifth coming of Christ with each page. I imagined dancing on clouds with these books and singing show tunes. These were the books I pre-ordered months in advanced. The ones I waited at my mailbox for the day they were to arrive. The books I stalked contests and publishers for hoping to read them even a week earlier. The marketing was so good--blog tours, posters, swag everywhere, blurbs floating all around the blogosphere, book trailers, movie deals before release, raving reviews from all my favorite blogs--that my expectations reached levels no book could ever hope to touch.

These four or so books let me down. Not because of their quality, but because they were so intensely hyped up that I don't think St. Francis de Sales* himself could write a book great enough to meet my sky-high expectations. My experience with incredibly hyped up books makes me question the whole idea of marketing. I mean, how much hype becomes too much hype?

In the past I'd always thought of marketing as a kind of judge of quality, especially in YA. I believed that the better a book was the more a publisher would be willing to spend on marketing. Therefore I almost always decided to buy my own copy of a book based on its marketing campaign. Sure, I would check other books out from the library, but I thought if I was spending money on books I might as well buy ones I know are good. And good equaled hyped up for me. So now I have a shelf of books that were supposedly "ZOMG FANTABULOUS, TOTES MAGOTES BEST BOOK EVAR" that I have read once each.

I am not a publishing guru (I barely know anything about the business at all except that I know there's a lot of stuff to know). I am not a publicist or a marketing extraordinaire. I don't know the formula (if there is one) that publishers use to determine how much exposure and hype a book will get. I don't know anything about the subject at all. The only thing I know is that hype no longer equals quality for me. Some of my favorite books are ones that I've never seen on a review blog or on my Goodreads newsfeed. I'm not saying all super hyped books are bad, I have a few favorite that have had extremely vast marketing campaigns, I just think there's a point at which no book can live up to the standards created in my mind.

So, what say you? Have you been disappointed by books with too much hype? Is there ever too much hype? If so, how much is too much?

Here, have a "Hey Arnold!" .gif:

*The patron saint of writing.

"Besoin de Rien"-The Hellboys,