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Buzz > Hype
Is the hype real?
“extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion.”
“promote or publicize intensively often exaggerating its importance or benefits.”
A phrase I see a lot from readers sharing their unique reading experience is, “Don’t believe the hype.” or “I don’t understand all the hype surrounding this book.” The reader is pointing to all the glowing reviews and basically calling it out as hype. Right? I mean, if a reader is feeling let down by glowing reviews and they’re saying something about hype, they’re suggesting that the positive feedback for a specific book is misleading, fake, or exaggerated. Hype is different than buzz. Buzz is just general, low-level noise about a book. No, ‘hype’ is not a good thing.
I used to think there wasn’t such a thing as hype. How could readers that don’t know each other conspire together against other readers to hype a book? It’s a ridiculous assumption.
Or is it?
Generally, the hype surrounding a book is totally subjective. If a book is getting a lot of critical acclaim and positive book reviews, how can anyone really call that hype? Nobody can know that for sure. Maybe the positive critical reviews are genuine. Maybe there are a lot of readers that love the book. Just because someone doesn’t like the book or find value in it doesn’t mean all the positivity is fake or exaggerated. Hype is hard to prove.
But there are some ways to authenticate the buzz surrounding the book. And these tips are generated from my own experience. I have been asked to read books for blurb consideration many, many times and I have turned some down because the book didn’t work for me. I don’t want to go out there to the world with an endorsement for a book that I didn’t actually enjoy. That’s not me. I don’t care who the author is or much I like them or have loved previous books, if I can’t hang with a book, I’ll be damned if I’m going to act as though I did. *shakes head violently* You know what that’s called, a puff piece.
define “puff piece”
“an article or story in the media that is excessively complimentary about a person, product, or event.”
This is the epitome of transactional networking in my opinion. (that’s a link to an article I wrote about the subject) I also mentioned how the way Stephen King reviewed, ALL THE SINNERS BLEED by S. A. Cosby was a great example of not writing a puff piece.
Okay, circling back to how you can spot the deep fakes, the hype, the puff pieces and determine if a book truly is, “worth the hype”. Here are some clues that when cobbled together could amount to something worth scrutiny and to be taken with a grain of salt. These are not tried/true/tested methods of determining authenticity but if several of these things are evident, keep it in your back pocket.
Is the praise detailed/specific? or
Is the praise vague? A re-telling of the synopsis? Very generalized positivity?
Does the person have a history of bestowing this author with only praise?
Does the praise start with something like, “I’m the biggest fan of this author and they can do no wrong in my eyes” lol (I have actually said this before with the caveat that I may have blindspots in regards to being critical of certain authors)
Is the work being celebrated or the author? This one is a huge red flag.
Is the praise coupled with finger-pointing? Shaming readers for “not getting it” or purposefully being dismissive of or misinterpreting the critiques? Huge red flag. Controlling the narrative is bad, bad, bad.
Are critical reviews more detailed than glowing reviews? I love reading a book with polarized reviews to see what side I will land on but if more people are rage-reading and leaving LONG reviews and the 5-star reviews are like, “Great book! Loved it!” that’s interesting.
What are 3-star reviews like? I think 3-star reviews are the most honest and the most helpful. A balance of what worked and what didn’t.
These are my thoughts on hype. Buzz is good. We like buzz. Hype is gross. We don’t need to be an industry that cultivates transactional relationships. We want integrity, honesty, and authenticity. Books and authors rise on merit. Not hype. Lest anyone fall from a height they were pushed up to instead of trekking to the top on their own.