Marketing teams play a crucial role when the time comes to promote a book. It would be very difficult for authors, particularly lesser known ones, to advertise their books without their help. They outline a plan to get books on the radar of potential readers using various platforms. But can their efforts occasionally be counterproductive? What if the marketing campaign for a book creates unfair expectations?
Publishers tend to emphasise the characteristics of a book that they believe will lead to sell the greatest number of copies possible. In order to entice readers, marketeers may try to highlight elements of a book that are not necessarily the main focus of the story or slightly tweak the premise of the book to fit in with current trends. This is occasionally obvious from press releases, the digital marketing strategy, and the blurbs of the books.
When The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker was initially released, the marketing campaign seemed to focus on how it was a feminist Ancient Greek myth retelling. It was supposed to give a voice to the women involved in the Trojan War. At the time, many readers were disappointed to discover that the book not only focuses on Briseis point of view, but it also presents the perspectives of Achilles and Patroclus. Pat Barker’s purpose was, in my opinion, to establish a contrast between how the men and the enslaved women were allowed to grieve. Unsurprisingly, women had to do so inconspicuously, hence the title of the novel.
Other book whose marketing efforts were somewhat misleading, but this time because of the blurb, was The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. The blurb puts a lot of emphasis on the role of this mysterious character who sends miniatures to the protagonist, Nella, so she can furnish her cabinet house. Not everything is revealed about the miniaturist, though, and many readers were disappointed about that. This historical novel is not truly about the miniaturist, however. It’s more about how the characters in Nella’s new household couldn’t fully be themselves because of the society they lived in. In a way, the characters are miniatures of themselves.
Our enjoyment of a book is somewhat connected with our expectations. They are sometimes shaped by marketing campaigns and it’s difficult to put them aside. Nevertheless, I tend to try to judge a book by what I believe the author intended it to be about (though that is not always easy to discern) and not by what it was marketed as.
Are there any books you feel were not correctly marketed? Tell me in the comments!