BOOK AND AUTHOR COMPARISONS. I tweeted about this the other day and had a nice little conversation with Brittany and Ashlea about this topic. How many times have you read the synopsis or front cover of a book and seen something like:
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor & Park!
The new Hunger Games!
More than anything, publishers in 2014 are very quick to reference anything by John Green or Rainbow Rowell because they’re the most popular or well-known YA authors at this moment. Years ago, they would slap a Twilight comparison on anything because people loved that shit. I do understand why they do it. I’m more than happy to hear that more people are reading and more books are being sold. If publishers think a little name-dropping will do the trick, then that’s cool!
What bothers me is when it’s not appropriate, doesn’t make sense, or is just done solely for the name-drop.
Just because a book is about a similar topic to another book, doesn’t mean they’ll have the same feel. They won’t have the same writing style or flow to them. That’s what makes me pick up a book! If you tell me a book is similar to TFIOS, more than likely it’s because it’s about kids with cancer… not because it has a similar feel or writing style to John Green’s work.
I like recommendations and author blurbs.
If an author is blurbed on a book cover, I will likely take that into consideration. I’ve never seen an author say, “Hey! This reminds me of MY book! Read it if you like my work, guys!!” Unless that miraculously (and weirdly) happened, I’m probably not going to trust the publisher’s random comparison on the front of the book.
If a trusted friend or other book blogger recommends a book to me because I like an author or book, I will DEFINITELY consider that book! Someone who is recommending something to me (1) just because they think I’ll genuinely like it and (2) because they personally read it and think the two books relate – is much more valuable than just a publisher slapping two popular books/authors on it. I saw a blogger post that she recommended a book to people who liked A Great and Terrible Beauty and Harry Potter. Um, hi, sign me up. Her blogger opinion is important to me.
This adds unnecessary pressure on debut authors, too.
Being a debut author is hard because you have to gain a fanbase from scratch. Having no body of work that people are anxiously awaiting new additions to is, I would imagine, not easy. When publishers put these heavy comparisons on the book covers and blurbs, it’s a lot to live up to! Crazy fangirls of the referenced series or books are going to expect some major magic to happen with this new author. I just feel like it’s a heck of a lot of pressure to put on someone who is just breaking into the game. It’s making expectations a bit too high. People may end up disappointed and never read another book by that author if they are expecting one thing and get another.
I know that it’s helpful in attracting people to a new author, but I think it may do more harm than good. Looking at some reviews of Red Queen shows that people mostly loved the book, but some were disappointed because of the comparisons made ahead of time.
My reaction is normally to stay away from that book – or try to ignore it.
I can’t think of a single time that a book comparison made me want to read a book. If you compare a book to Perks of Being a Wallflower, I expect your book to be literally life-changing and become my new favorite book. Because that’s how I view Perks! If you reference my favorite book, you’re setting the bar a bit too high. I’ll walk right by it in the bookstore because I don’t want to be let down. My review would just have a lot of capslock shouting about how no book compares.
I sometimes try to ignore the comparison while reading because the plot of the book seems worth the risk. All of the books shown here are on my TBR for reasons other than the comparison.
What do you guys think?
Does seeing an author or book comparison on the cover make you want to buy it?
Does it make you stay away?
Do you rage as hard as I do when you see the millionth book of the year being compared to John Green and Rainbow Rowell?
What book comparison was right that you loved?
What one burned you?
I think you make a good point Lauren, this annoys me too, but sometimes, I admit, I’m pretty interested in a book because it says it’s so similar to something else I’ve read and enjoyed it, it can help put other books on peoples radars, but I do understand the annoyance 🙂
Exactly, sometimes it makes sense and helps.. other times it just makes you mad because it’s not a true comparison! Like, there are SO MANY new releases that claim to be similar to Eleanor and Park and The Fault in Our Stars… there’s no way that many books ARE actually that similar!
I am so glad you did this post! I mentioned something about this in my review of Red Queen, but it’s not publishing until nearer the release date. That book was compared to FOUR popular series. It’s ridiculous.
Like we talked about, I get WHY they do it, but it’s beyond frustrating. Especially when I read the book in question and it’s nothing like the book it was compared to.
I know! I heard about Red Queen, that it was initially marketed as two books and then switched to two different ones. They just wanted to lump fantasy books with a strong female character in one group :/
Book comparisons can work against a book because if you compare a new book to a book I didn’t like, that’s not really going to make me want to read it, you know?
I BOUGHT OPEN ROAD SUMMER! I mean…I bought Open Road Summer. 🙂 Anyway, I read that about the series. 🙂 So maybe Breathe Annie Breathe would be a better pick, hmm. I need to check out the other books in the series.
I love books that make me laugh, The Distance Between Us is such a must read.
Now wait a second Lauren….I’m sure All The Bright Places is similar to TFIOS for more than just that one reason. 🙂 Like…it’s about kids with cancer…but it’s ALSO about kids with cancer who fall in love! See, TOTALLY similar. 😉
I’m totally dying to read that book though.
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The closest thing I’ve ever seen to an author “blurbing” about a book that’s similar to their own book is when Stephen Chbosky (author of Perks) wrote a cover blurb for Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira (a book which is JUST like his). Seriously though… It’s weird how similar they are.
– – –
I definitely agree with you about publishers causing debut authors to be even more pressured than they already are with comparisons. And then if it’s not great enough or whatever, people could say “Oh well so and so is just TRYING to be like *insert author*” In a negative way.
– – –
I have to say, if I see a book comparison to Perks, John Green, Rainbow Rowell or David Levithan, I will definitely at least give the book summary a glance at. I’ll admit it, haha, I’m exactly the kind of person publishers are hoping on… That comparison on Finding Paris is exactly why I requested Finding Paris actually. I will admit it though, I’m getting tired of the comparisons. Why compare an author to someone? I mean, I know WHY, but for the authors I can’t help thinking “Maybe they want to (someday) be the ones being compared to, not compared with). Or maybe I have that comparing thing backwards.
The Love Letters To The Dead comparison really just, ugh, burned the book for me. Burned it. It’s ashes. Not literally. But close enough. Lucky for me, I have TWO copies. Haha…
Haha so many people have said that LLTTD is just like Perks but I don’t see it! I could see it being kind of a ripoff version of it, but I don’t know. I didn’t like LLTTD at all but Perks is one of my favorites. I guess Chbosky was a mentor to Dellaira, which is probably why many people see the similarities.
Gah, the similarities were endless to me.
1. Freshmen who begin high school
2. Deal with traumatic past (the same type)
3. Both have a gay/lesbian couple for friends
4. Both are taken under the wing of senior students
5. Both write letters
6. Both are brought into a whole new world due to said Senior students
This may be why I couldn’t enjoy LLTTD at all. I just kept drawing conclusions back to Perks but it wasn’t as well written or interesting.
P.S. Sorry for the over a week long comment back. Haha.
Haha I guess you’re right! Makes sense. Perks is definitely infinitely better.
[…] Lauren shares her thoughts on book and author comparisons. […]
Usually I don’t like comparisons, they leave a bad taste in my mouth and like you mentioned the comparison is usually more based on topic then feel or writing style. While the feel and writing style probably is what makes those books special in the first palce and makes the comparison wrong.
I also think it add to much pressure to the debut author indeed and I wonder if people actually pick up the book thanks to the comparison. I usually avoid the book because of the comparison or try to ignore it when the book sounds really good. In general I just wish people would stop using comparisons as I donb’t like them and it makes me more liekly to avoid then buy the book. Every book is unique and I have rather the blurb focusses on what it does offer and were it’s about then make comparison that might or might not be adequate.
Agreed! Couldn’t have put it better myself.
This is in fact very interesting. I have to agree that more often than not those comparisons will lead to disappointment, so I definitely ignore them. They higher the expectations too much, and they are probably based on a minor similarity like maybe the theme, that isn’t the THING that makes the book awesome in the first place. I have to agree that it puts too much pressure on books, and that they’ll be better off with other advertisement techniques. It is no favour to compare a book or author to another in a blurb.
It is very different, if the recommendation comes from someone you personally trust and who knows you or has actually read the books. Totally different thing.
Thanks for the comment! I completely agree
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Like you said, I think it puts a lot of pressure on a debuting author. Try living up to those big names! Also, it might give wrong expectations and sometimes people might not read it because ‘I didn’t like one/both of the pitches books/authors.’
Exactly! It just doesn’t make sense to already set them up for some huge comparisons. If I didn’t like the books they’re comparing it to, I’ll definitely stay away.