Do You Hype Books That You Haven’t Read?

Do You Hype Books You Haven't Read?

Amber Elise (@dulivre) asked on Twitter a couple weeks ago what bloggers thought would change about the way they blogged if they didn’t get ARCs (and wrote a post on her blog about what her own blogging would like like, which you can read here.)  I actually do not receive a lot of ARCs, and the ones I do are often from giveaways or other sources where I’m not necessarily “obligated” to turn around a review by a certain time.  However, I do hear about upcoming books from other bloggers who have received ARCs, so if bloggers in general did not get ARCs, I think my reading habits or knowledge of the market might change, not so much my actual blogging habits.

However, the question led me to realize that I also see bloggers hype a lot of books that they personally do not have ARCs of.  Sometimes other bloggers have ARCs, so maybe the people hyping these books are going off positive reviews.  But sometimes the hype comes from the fact that the blogger thinks the author’s previous books were good, so their new one must be, too.  Or sometimes it’s a debut, and the hypers just think the premise sounds cool or the author is friendly or good at connecting with readers on Twitter or something.  In these cases, people have not read the book and know very little about it, but they are still promoting it–often very enthusiastically, on multiple platforms, even encouraging people to preorder or purchase the book.

Organic hype like this is great for authors and one of the reasons publishers do work with bloggers.  However, my own recent experiences with two books I was extremely excited about this year have led me to question how much I hype books I haven’t read what the consequences of that might be.

Two of my most anticipated books for 2019 were The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (review here) and Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte (review scheduled).  Both ended up being two star reads for me, The Gilded Wolves because of confusing world building and flat characters, Four Dead Queens because of absurd world building, a flat romance, and bad plotting.

My personal brand of “hyping” books I haven’t read yet mainly involves saying “I am really excited about this book” or writing lists of the books I am most anticipating, but when I reflect on the fact that two of the books I was most looking forward to are likely to end up on my list of “worst books I read in 2019” now that I have read them, it’s awkward.  And I wonder what I would have done if I had hyped them more enthusiastically, had pushed other people to read them or to buy them.  Would I just be painfully silent about my change of opinion?  Would I feel obliged to issue some sort of formal statement explaining my change of opinion?  I don’t know.

My general rule of thumb is to try not to speak authoritatively on texts I have not actually read in full, whether to say they’re good or they’re bad, and I think that has served me well here.  Saying I was looking forward to these books and wanted to read them was perfectly fair, but I’d be in a bind  if I’d been saying how fabulous they were before I’d read them…since I don’t think they are worth recommending now that I have read them.  For me, it’s a good reminder to stick to my rule and always read a text before passing judgement on it.  Even if it’s a good judgement, I’m a reader, not a marketer, and I want to recommend books I personally like, not recommend books just to “help out authors.”

What do you think? Do you hype books you haven’t read yet?  Have you ever regretted hyping a book you later read and hated?  What did you do?

Briana

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42 thoughts on “Do You Hype Books That You Haven’t Read?

  1. Nish says:

    I generally don’t hype books I haven’t read, except when I mention books I am anticipating reading. I’ve so often found the hyped books to be not so great. I also like to ignore book blogger hysteria, and pick and choose books that call out to me.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I love the phrase “book blogger hysteria!” :p Sometimes the really hyped books are good (Six of Crows!), but sometimes I think all the hype makes me more disappointed than if I didn’t have such high expectations.

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  2. infinitepagesbookreviews says:

    I generally do not hype books on my blog that I haven’t read myself. I may say that I’m looking forward to it because of previous experience with a similar book or with the book’s author. I find it hard to really give a book hype if I don’t have any experience with the book’s characters or the world. Mostly, what if I give it all this hype but then the world building or characters end up falling flat?

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      That is my dilemma! I was so excited for these two books this year, and I ended up hating them! I felt really relieved I had just said “I am looking forward to these” and wasn’t super-promoting them. It would have been awkward.

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  3. What's She Reading? says:

    I’ll usually just say if I’m excited for a book to come out, but I’m not telling people to go but it. Then I always post an honest review. I don’t even post my affiliate links on a review if I wouldn’t recommend the boom.

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  4. ashley says:

    No, I do not hype books that I haven’t read. I also don’t consider books that I’m anticipating as hyping them, they’re just books I’m looking forward to reading.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yeah, I agree saying you’re looking forward to it or having it on your TBR isn’t necessarily “hyping” either, since it’s more about your personal opinions and not necessarily a statement that anyone else should be anticipating it or whatever.

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  5. Stephanie says:

    I would hype a book that I’m excited about reading in the future because that hype is organic and comes from a place of true excitement, and I’d be interested in hearing what other bloggers think of it. If an author I love comes out with something I’m not all that interested in reading, I may mention it but wouldn’t be all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! about it.

    I try to be authentic as possible in all my posts, and I’d never want to hype something that I wasn’t truly excited about. And if I end up not loving something I was previously excited about, I have no problem stating that. It happens. We’re not going to love everything, and disappointment is a part of life.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes, the excitement is actually one of the things I really love about the book community!

      I’m trying to think if I’ve ever seen someone really, really hype up a book and then write a review like “Oops, I did not actually like this! Ignore my previous posts!” but I’m not sure. :p I agree that it’s just a thing that happens, though. Sometimes books are disappointing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. (shri) sunandchai says:

    i absolutely do hype books i haven’t read lol. though they’re particularly books by authors (usually woc) whom i follow on twitter and have seen their effort. or because i’m biased i by default hype anything by south asian authors.

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  7. Beware Of The Reader says:

    I only hype books that I have read and loved, ARCs or not. I may say that I am excited about a book based on the blurb though. Only if it is genuine …is it hyping?

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  8. karen virginia flaxman says:

    Briana, I never feel comfortable discussing books I’ve not read, because often I find my opinion changes once I do read it. There are times when, if I’ve read at least half the book, I’ll comment about how I’m liking it and what I think of it in comparison with others by the same author that I’ve previously read, but other than that, no hyping.

    Good topic. Thanks!

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      That’s my worry. Books are so often either better or worse than I expected them to be; it’s hard to judge whether I’ll like a book even based on the author’s past works. And you’re right that your opinion about a book can change even while you’re reading it. You never really know until the end!

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  9. Marie says:

    This is such an interesting topic! I think I may be a little guilty of hyping up books I haven’t read, because I get so excited about some upcoming books that look incredible, all I want to do is show them some love haha. That being said, I’m trying to show my excitement and how I am anticipating these books, but I’m doing my best not to have a “this book is incredible you should read it” kind of speech when I can’t really speak of it, haven’t read an ARC of it at all or anything like that. I’m trying to keep my excitement in the anticipation column, if that makes sense 🙂
    This is a great post! 🙂

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  10. Samantha Duffy says:

    This is such an interesting thought. I often think of things like this when I watch Booktube. I know that some of these booktubers are being paid to mention specific books, they are given advanced (or final) copies of them, so they can be used as a prop in a 15-30 second promo about them. BUT I also notice that a lot of the booktubers don’t necessarily mention or read a lot of those books afterwards. At most, they end up in unhaul videos or tags that have to do with titles and covers and not content. My point though is that I honestly believe that people who do receive ARCs or paid promotions for books are more likely to hype before reading, whereas like you, I might MENTION books I am anticipating or excited about, but won’t dedicate an entire post to them unless I actually read it.
    My question then would be, does mentioning these unread books in “anticipated reads” or “tbr” post count as some form of hype? I mean we aren’t necessarily saying everyone should read those books, but you are featuring them in a post, and talking about why you MIGHT like them. Is that similar to hyping them?

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I hadn’t even thought much about Booktube! I don’t watch a ton of it, but I hear people mention this a lot–that Booktubers mention tons of books that they seem to never actually read. I think I wouldn’t like that because it would seem too much to me like an advertisement and not as if the person was actually excited about eh book in any real sense–and apparently they’re not if they don’t actually get around to reading it!

      Yeah, I think saying you’re looking forward to a book isn’t really too much like “hype,” since it’s kind of just a statement of personal opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Enobong says:

    I’m reluctant to even tell people to buy books I have read and loved because I know everyone’s taste is so different. If I do love a book I’ll say why I like and recommend it, often with a caveat of ‘if you love… then I recommend this book’ but I would never hype a book I haven’t read. Like you, I will say I’m looking forward to it but I have a natural aversion to over-hyped books as they rarely live up to the hype. Even with books I’m looking forward to, I do so with caution.

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  12. booksonawire says:

    I participate in photo challenges and regularly posts photos of books I haven’t read. Otherwise, I would be posting about the same books over and over! I just make sure that I post that it’s on my TBR or that I’m excited to read it. I just think of it as a cover reveal or most anticipated list???

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I hadn’t even thought that much about photos! That’s a good point. I don’t get a lot of ARCs, but I do often post pictures of them and just generally thank the publisher for them and say I’m looking forward to them.

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  13. Annemieke says:

    Yeah I generally don’t say anything about how they are if I haven’t read them yet. I think thats weird. I think the only exception I ever made was when I added A thousand beginnings to my anthology list to read just because I think its important to read more by asian authors. But even there I said I hadn’t read it and gave my reasoning for adding it to the list.

    Mostly I just say how excited I am for a book. If its a sequel I say how much I loved the previous one too for example. Things like that. I might also shout about the prettiness of the cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Michael J. Miller says:

    I’m an…excitable person by nature :). I’ve had a countdown to ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’ on the board of my classroom since we came back last August. So, if it’s an author I adore (Paulo Coelho, Ian McEwan, Diana Gabaldon) I will get super excited about upcoming releases, because I’ve loved their past work so much. And I will happily tell people how excited I am! I wouldn’t say I try to speak “authoritatively” on them so much as “excitedly.” But I have had to go back and say I’ve changed my mind on something I wrote! A couple years ago, Marvel did their now-infamous “Hydra-Cap” reveal. I was not happy and I wrote about it (while acknowledging it was knee-jerk reaction in the initial piece). Now I can say (and did on the blog) it ended up being one of the most powerful, poignant, and important stories I’ve ever read in a comic.

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  15. Grab the Lapels says:

    I think if you have different definitions for “excited about Book A” and “hyping Book A,” the answer seems clear. To me, being excited means I’m happy about the synopsis (like This Much County, a memoir about dog sledding in Alaska that I’m about to read) or it’s an author whose work I typically love (like when Dead Man’s Trousers by Irvine Welsh came out and I ordered a copy from the UK because I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it).

    I’m not quite sure how hype would be different. To me, hype is a buzz like bees, and thus more like general noise in my face that I want to swat away. If I hear “everyone” is saying how awesome a movie is, for example, that’s hype. But how can you say a book is awesome before you’ve read it? That just seems….well, stupid seems like a harsh word, but it’s the word that comes to mind. Also sheep.

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  16. Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

    You two have the best discussions. xD Always get me thinking!

    If I’m hyping a book I haven’t read yet, I tend to clearly qualify my statements. “I’m so excited about XYZ book.” “I can’t wait until XYZ book comes out so I can read it.” “I loved the first book in this series, and I’m so looking forward to book two.” “I think this book sounds great!”

    I try not to speak in definites or actually recommend them to anyone. I approach it just as a book that sounds interesting.

    I do get A LOT of book recommendations through ARCs. So if bloggers stopped getting them … I would seriously probably not know about books I want to read until they come out and I see them on the bookshelf at my library. Which would be sad, because my library is teensy, and in general, I tend to go out and buy a lot of the books I want to read because my library doesn’t carry them except for the biggest hyped ones on the bestsellers list. Through bloggers, I get to hear about the smaller ones, and I’ve read some great books that way!

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  17. La La in the Library says:

    There was a musician someone RTed on my music Twitter account who said now that we are cinsidered “influencers” we need to take a step back and think about how, and what, we are influencing. 👍✨

    I was thinking the other day about what the term “hyped” generally means on bookish social media because a Bookstagrammer was going off about how Educated by Tara Westover was being “overly hyped”, but I don’t consider good reviews given after the book has been published “hype”, to me that’s a pre-publication term. Should a good review of a book you have read and reviewed fairly ever be considered hype? In my opinion, no. to me there is a difference between promotion and hype.

    I also don’t consider saying you are excited for a new book from your favorite author, saying a summary is intriguing, or putting a pretty cover up on social media as hype. However, as you said making any statements about the qualities of a book you haven’t read, like this is the next Harry Potter, or this story is a beautiful, spellbinding, intense, heart-wrenching soon to be bestseller (ha ha) is wrong. That is the sort of promotion I consider hype.

    I’m glad you brought this up because I have been getting really tired of all the carnival barking book promotion lately. 😑 I had two or three real duds on my highly anticipated list this year, too. One was from an author I had previously loved.

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  18. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    I think I ‘hype’ in the same way that you do. I will occasionally tweet about a book’s release date, if I’ve heard from reputable sources that the book has good rep, even if I haven’t read it – but I don’t pass judgment. And I will say “I’m excited for this book because X”. But I’m rarely hype-level excited for a book I haven’t read because, well, I haven’t read it yet!

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  19. Gerry@TheBookNookUK says:

    I don’t think I hype books I haven’t read but I will express how much I’m looking forward to reading a book and sometimes that’s based on what I’ve heard from others.

    I’ve been bitten by ‘hype’ before so now I take anything massively over-hyped with a pinch of salt.

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  20. Katie Wilkins (@DoingDewey) says:

    Like you, I might ‘hype’ books I haven’t read by noting I’m excited to read them in a post or a tweet, but I certainly don’t push them on people with nearly the same enthusiasm that I do books I’ve actually read and loved.

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  21. Malka @ Paper Procrastinators says:

    I hype books when I’m genuinely excited for them, but if I don’t have a copy it’s always only because of an awesome premise, or because it’s a new work by an author I’ve loved. That doesn’t stop me from disliking anticipated books, but I share that regardless.

    I think it just stings more for me when I was excited for a book, heard so much hype, and then the book falls flat. But I think that people care about honest opinions, and showing that you dislike a book even after hyping it shows that you care more about being honest than people pleasing, and I admire that.

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  22. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Yeah personally I think it’s better to stay quiet about books I haven’t read yet- I very rarely even do posts talking about books I’m anticipating- although I definitely indulge in lots of comments on other people’s blogs around books I’m looking forward to 😉 So I do really get why people do a lot of these posts- it can be really fun to just get excited for a book… even if there is a distinct possibility of not liking a book. I also do feel like even showing off hauls on twitter contributes to hype (although I figure if I have got hold of the book, I’m definitely gonna read it, so even if people tell me it’s amazing, it doesn’t matter too much) I have found in the past that a lot of hyped books have ended up on my worst books of the year lists- to be honest, cos I’ve been stung a few too many times by this, I am a bit more wary of hype now and have lower expectations if I see a book being toted as the next big thing. Anyway, fab discussion!

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I think getting excited for a book can be fun, too, but I guess I also don’t even do “books I’m anticipating” lists. To some degree, there are too many of these in the blogosphere for my personal taste. I know a lot of people enjoy reading them, but I guess I’m more into reading about what people have actually read, what their thoughts are, etc. I’m not big on reading what books someone *plans* to read because often life intervenes and you don’t even read what you were planning anyway so…

      I also think hype ruins books for me. There’s a perfect level where it sounds like the book is good quality but is not hyped as the next LotR or something because I WILL be disappointed when it is not, in fact, as good as LotR.

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