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?