All books are not the same: aggravating book marketing

All books should not be clones of best-selling titles.

I am pretty much convinced that any reader looking back on the year 2015 will think there were only two authors of note — Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins. And that anything else that was published only aspired to be a knock-off of one of these.

I was on Pinterest earlier this week trying to see what new book recs I could find and the only thing that came up was: 10 books to read if you liked Girl on the Train/Gone Girl; 10 books if you miss Gone Girl/Girl on the Train10 books with characters just like… etc etc

You get my drift right? I’ve been bombarded with these two titles all year to the point that I refused to read them and now months later, all there seems to be is books just like them. There’s no escape, and none even more so with the two movies coming on.

I freely admit I read a book like this (or more) last year (that I didn’t like and not because I have a chip on my shoulder about wannabes.). I picked it up because I decided to take a chance on another Gone Girl clone because the blurb was good, and I thought the story had potential. But no. I have no idea what the other two titles are about, but I can’t help wondering if the slightest bit of a twist or a shock in a manuscript is garnering the “Gone Girl/Girl on a Train” comparison just to sell titles. Never mind if the rest of the book isn’t good, as long as it has something remotely resembling a twist, it’s enough to slap a sticker on it saying “If you liked…”

I understand the needs of marketing and what gets books sold, but OMG, I wanted to hit my head against a wall. Repeatedly. I mean, there came a stage where I couldn’t figure out — did publishers think readers are just that easily pleased they’d keep eating up the same kind of book every time?

And here’s an example of when marketing something comes to bite you in the arse: when you have a perfectly good book that’s marketed as the next something-or-the-other. In the case of Please Don’t Leave Me, the publisher seems to have rushed to marketing the author as the next Gone Girl and not actually made sure the characters fit the mold of that book.

Of course, it’s not restricted to Gillian Flynn: I’ve read book just like Pride and Prejudice and it didn’t fill any of my expectations by the end.It was perfectly good romance on its own, but it wasn’t Pride and Prejudice and failed to live up to anything that comparison brought.

And that’s the thing — the comparison brings expectations and if the expectations aren’t met, readers (or maybe just me?) are turned off the book and the author.

I really do not want to see Gone Girl or Girl on the Train ever again. Having said that, I’m certain the next time I walk into a bookstore, the first thing I’m going to see is a display of books that are the next Gone Girl or Girl on the Train. Some things never change.

Does this sort of marketing annoy you too? What marketing annoyed you last?

4 Comments

  • Oh, I really do dislike this marketing. I really feel bad for the author too because you get people that WILL NOT read the books because they are compared to something and then you get people that DO but they don’t like it as much as the comparison books, so they end up liking this new one even LESS because of that first initial expectation. Hopefully that makes sense.

    anyway, I don’t mind books compared to movies or tv shows as much as comparison to a book, because all books are different and it’s hard to compare something without having repercussions.

    -Lauren

    • Verushka says:

      I was talking to an Aussie author on Twitter about marketing, and she said she had no control over anything, which means authors are I guess put in exactly the position you described through no fault of their own. You pretty much hit the nail on the head with the repercussions they face, Lauren, if the marketing doesn’t work (totally made sense!)

  • Annette says:

    It can annoy me, but it can also convince me to read a synopsis – this works for movies too. My friends said “Avatar is like Pocahontas set in space” and I went “OMG I need to see that movie!!!”. But you’re right, comparisons do raise expectations and that can lead to disappointment – but bottom line, they help draw attention to a book and sell copies. And with so many books published every month, anything that helps narrow my reading choices is something I find hard to argue with.

    • Verushka says:

      Oh absolutely, it can definitely be a positive thing for a reader to have those sorts of comparisons. But I do think those sorts of comparisons have a saturation point and can work the other way in the end — turn people off books — which where I am. I’ve seen one too many books and book displays about books i’d like if I liked Gone Girl etc.

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