Should We Judge Books by Their Marketing Campaigns?

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!


7 thoughts on “Should We Judge Books by Their Marketing Campaigns?

  1. MarinaSofia says:

    Oooh, very interesting topic! I think a lot of books are marketed nowadays as being thrillers (in the hope of appealing to a certain audience of avid readers) and they really aren’t. They might be well written and would perhaps appeal to readers if they didn’t have this expectation that they are… thrilling.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hannah says:

    I am always bummed when a book doesn’t align with how it was marketed. One I read recently called “The Last Thing He Told Me” was marketed as a fast paced thriller with significant character development and I didn’t find either of those to be accurate. It definitely impacted my enjoyment while reading because I went in thinking it would be something that it wasn’t. Great topic for discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susana_S_F says:

      Sometimes it can happen that people just have different opinions about certain features of the book, like character development. But a thriller is… a thriller. Getting the genre of the book right is important!
      I gave as examples two books that I ended up enjoying regardless of how they were marketed. But if I bought a book expecting it to be adult fiction and it was young adult, for example, I would probably not enjoy it, since it’s not a genre that I tend to read anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mugfullofbooks says:

    Great post! For me it was The Binding by Bridget Collins. It was initially marketed as Fantasy whereas the fantasy elements are very small. I was really excited for the fantasy elements as well. I still read it but would have enjoyed it a lot more if it had been marketed accurately. I believe that it’s no longer pushed as fantasy so heavily by the publisher so maybe they had a lot of feedback to that effect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susana_S_F says:

      That’s interesting! Maybe they thought it was a book that would appeal to fantasy readers. I haven’t read but remember it being mentioned a lot some time ago.


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