How Much Hype is Too Much?

I’m reading a book (between taxes, physical therapy, hubby stuff, etc.).  The author has been publishing for years, but this is my first experience with her. She has a big following of avid fans at a site where I hang out, and they wait for each new book with giddy anticipation, finish it with great satisfaction and start counting the days to her next release.

After months of listening to them rave, and being unable to find the books in the local stores (we have, count ’em, two stores to pick from), I went online over the weekend and downloaded her latest title. It was the first book I ever downloaded, and it was an experience worthy of its own whine. (Let’s just say it took nearly two hours and the downloading of three other programs before I could get to a simple pdf copy of the book.)

I was so excited when I opened the book and started reading. After all, according to the fans on the site, this author, with this book in particular, is the best thing to ever hit the publishing world. They couldn’t say enough fabulous things about her and it. I was in for a great, great treat.

Except . . . the book isn’t so great. It’s nicely written. The characters appear to be nice people, though I can’t say that I’ve really gotten to know them. The setting is nicely done. It’s just all . . . nice. Not at all what I expected.

I’m not saying it’s a bad book at all. We all have different tastes; we all look for different things in books. This book connected with a lot of people. And the funny thing is, I might have been one of them if the hype hadn’t been so big. (And if it had fallen into my hands without so much hassle.) But it was a lot of hassle to get and I expected so much based on what I’d heard, that I think it was almost inevitable that I’d be disappointed.

It happened again last week with the new TV show, “Southland.” If you’ve watched NBC for five minutes any time in the past month, you’ve seen at least two commercials for the show that filled “ER’s” slot. (Okay, so I’m exaggerating. It was probably only one commercial every five minutes.) The network hyped the show as the “ER” of police dramas and quoted critic after critic about how fabulous it was. I actually made a point of being available when it came on. And I knew within twenty minutes that I wouldn’t be back for episode 2 unless there are drastic changes.

It’s not that it’s a <em>bad</em> show. It’s just not living up to its billing. If it had been treated as just another new show, I might have been willing to watch it long enough to get to know the characters (because the emphasis is clearly on the characters and not the police work). But they told me it was going to be super-duper-best-new-show-ever, and because it isn’t, I’m not willing to give it the chance I would have otherwise.

Do you pay attention to hype? Are you more tolerant when it’s nothing but hype with no substance to back it up, or do you expect them to live up to their advertising?

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3 thoughts on “How Much Hype is Too Much?

  1. I will say that TOO much hype is to much. But you want some hype about it. Otherwise, no one knows it’s out there.
    I know that one of my fave authors has come out with books that were just okay. But because of the series and because of the characters I will buy every one the moment they come out.
    But I have noticed how picky I am when it comes to books. It takes more to impress me.
    And I can’t relate to shows. I don’t watch any. 🙂
    Ashlynn

  2. Meg, I had DH in here for the first episode of Southland. Former cop, former deputy, former fed, and SO much fun watching ER-on-street-patrol. OHG. He wanted to shoot everyone within the first ten minutes. LOL.

  3. No TV, Ash? That’s why your brain’s not rotting and mine is. 😉

    I’m willing to forgive a writer who’s pleased me in the past if one of her books doesn’t work for me. But when I have high expectations of a new-to-me author, I’m not likely to come back a second time.

    I have another book in my pile — got great reviews online, was nominated/finaled for bunches of awards, got added to about a jillion readers’ personal favorites of ’08. I tracked it down and sheesh! Banging my head against the stone on the fireplace would have been less painful. Maybe if I learn not to believe the hype, I’ll be happier? But then, if I weren’t at least partly taken in by it, I wouldn’t have bought these particular books in the first place.

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