December 18, 2018, 03:31:08 PM

Author Topic: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers  (Read 4906 times)

Online ScarletBea

  • Welcome party and bringer of Cake. 2nd-in-Command of the Writing Contest
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 10061
  • Total likes: 5887
  • Gender: Female
  • Geeky Reading Introvert
    • View Profile
    • LibraryThing profile
"Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« on: March 21, 2015, 04:37:01 PM »
This is something that has been annoying me for a while, and it reached breaking point recently: publishers who insist on putting "comparative authors" on book covers.
Mostly it's about GRRM, or any other author who is 'flavour of the month', and usually it's on books who have got *nothing* to do with those authors.
Do they really think people are silly, or just want to read the same story over and over again?
I just don't get it, and unless I really know the author or the book has been recommended here (you're the only ones I trust!), I tend to refuse to pick up a book that has got "If you loved GRRM, choose this"
It's an own goal for them, in my opinion, because maybe some innocent souls still go along with this spin and end up with a completely different book, and then will give it up and won't make the same mistake twice.

The latest one, the 'breaking point', was Lawrence's Prince of Fools - they put "On a par with GRRM" on the cover of the paperback, and if I wasn't treasuring that volume with my life, hehe, I would have thrown it! It's not 'on a par', it's much different and much better, in my opinion - argh >:(
At home in the Fantasy Faction forum!

"Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all" - Douglas Adams

Offline Eclipse

  • Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days.
  • Ta'veren
  • **
  • Posts: 3995
  • Total likes: 1938
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2015, 04:43:07 PM »
Sometimes when it say similar to X and I've read X novels and for some reason X works  just wasn't my cup of tea  I avoid buying Y's works

Hmm a lot of X in this Post lol hope it makes sense  :) I've just confused myself
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Offline Raptori

  • Barbarian who does not use the Oxford comma and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4054
  • Total likes: 2110
  • the prettiest kitty cat in the world
    • View Profile
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2015, 04:53:48 PM »
 
Quote
just want to read the same story over and over again
Unfortunately, it's this. People read something they like, and then they want to read the same thing over and over and over.

I generally ignore them too. The problem is that they don't specify, and usually it's just a case of having some vague similarities in terms of plot or subgenre. The situation where I do like to see comparisons is when people are referencing specific aspects of the book that are similar.

For example, the Powder Mage trilogy reminded me of Brandon Sanderson because of the magic, the breezy style, the intricate plot, and the huge amount of action. If those are the aspects of Sanderson's writing that you enjoy, then there's a much higher chance that you'll like the Powder Mage trilogy.

That kind of comparison is useful imo, because it is actually informative. It lets you know a bit more about what similarities there are, which also lets you know what isn't similar between the two books, which is just as important.
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Online ScarletBea

  • Welcome party and bringer of Cake. 2nd-in-Command of the Writing Contest
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 10061
  • Total likes: 5887
  • Gender: Female
  • Geeky Reading Introvert
    • View Profile
    • LibraryThing profile
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2015, 05:00:15 PM »
^ agree!
But the chance of getting that type of comparison from a publishers' blurb is close to zero, unlike chats like in F-F or other 'proper' blogs.

And Eclipse, fully got that - and exactly, that's yet another reason why that is wrong.
At home in the Fantasy Faction forum!

"Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all" - Douglas Adams

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6759
  • Total likes: 4599
  • Gender: Male
  • ridiculously obscure is my super power.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2015, 05:42:41 PM »
I thought this was a discussion of genetics.  ;D
I stand corrected.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline xiagan

  • Writing Contest Organizer
  • Powers That Be
  • Elderling
  • *
  • Posts: 5662
  • Total likes: 2426
  • Gender: Male
  • Master Procrastinator
    • View Profile
    • Fictional Times
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2015, 09:58:10 PM »
I thought this was a discussion of genetics.  ;D
I stand corrected.
But it is. Obviously a book with good genes gets put on other books blurbs. If it has through this shown to other books its superiority they are more likely to mate with it and... Oh wait. ;D
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Raptori

  • Barbarian who does not use the Oxford comma and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4054
  • Total likes: 2110
  • the prettiest kitty cat in the world
    • View Profile
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2015, 10:09:28 PM »
I thought this was a discussion of genetics.  ;D
I stand corrected.
But it is. Obviously a book with good genes gets put on other books blurbs. If it has through this shown to other books its superiority they are more likely to mate with it and... Oh wait. ;D
Isn't that where books like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies come from? I wonder what adaptations are proving advantageous...
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Arry

  • Cat of the Canals
  • Administrator
  • Elderling
  • ***
  • Posts: 5877
  • Total likes: 629
  • Gender: Female
  • Faceless
    • View Profile
    • Tenacious Reader
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2015, 11:01:24 PM »
What I have really noticed is how many books have blurbs by George R. R. Martin or Stephen King on the cover.

I rarely feel like something is like X and Y, but I did read a book recently where I just couldn't help it. Flex is so reminiscent of Breaking Bad in some ways and also Ready Player One in completely different ways. But the book is still uniquely its own, it is neither of those stories, just had a plot line/motivation for the protagonist that was quite similar to Breaking Bad. And had a good number of video game references like Ready Player One (it also was similar in tone). I could see how it could appeal to fans of either/both of those. But I rarely feel that way or make those statements.

I know I read a book sometime in the last year that was compared to ASoIaF and I was just completely baffled why after reading it. The only commonality was they could both be classified as Speculative Fiction. (wish I could remember the book!) I think they both had sets of siblings as well.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.”
-- George R.R. Martin

http://www.tenaciousreader.com

http://www.speculativeherald.com

Offline Elfy

  • Writing contest regular
  • Powers That Be
  • Ringbearer
  • *
  • Posts: 6966
  • Total likes: 681
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Purple Dove House
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2015, 11:09:54 PM »
I understand why publishers do this from a marketing perspective and what they're trying to do, but they assume that just because readers have liked a particular type of book they'll continue to like that sort of book and never want to expand their horizons. At present A Song of Ice and Fire is all the rage, before that it was Hunger Games (how many similar books to that did we see or see marketed as being like the Hunger Games?) and Harry Potter (every kids book that came out was marketed as being the next Harry Potter, even including The Amulet of Samarkand, which was nothing like Harry Potter). I can remember that every second epic fantasy used to reference The Lord of the Rings, whether or not they were actually similar seemed to be immaterial to the people who wrote the blurbs or publicised the books.
It seems to have hit a zenith when I saw James S.A Corey's Expanse series being compared to Game of Thrones in outer space when it was pitched as a TV show. WTF? About the only Game of Thrones connection it has is that both the two authors who are James S.A Corey are friends of George R.R Martin.
Quirk books was started with the precise idea of sending up classic fiction. It didn't end with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (although that's the only one that they wrote both a prequel and a sequel for), they did Sense & Sensibility with Sense & Sensibility & Sea-Monsters, Anna Karenina with Android Karenina (I have considered reading that one, it couldn't possibly be any worse than the original) and even The Metamorphosis with The Meowmorphosis. It's a different thing to being like a work, more of a parody. They carefully selected public domain fiction, so that they could put their own spin on the original text.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline Saraband

  • Haggis eater, fantasy scribbler and a Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Master Namer
  • ******
  • Posts: 2230
  • Total likes: 965
  • Gender: Male
  • Geeky Reading (and Writing) Introvert
    • View Profile
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2015, 12:55:56 AM »
What is especially annoying is that it really feels like the publishers are assuming their readers to be ignorant troglodytes, as if people couldn't tell the difference. And it is different than having an actual quote from an author featured on the cover - I can actually respect that, although it still won't make any difference for me. But this is how marketing works, and I don't think it will change anytime soon.

Slightly off-topic but related to publishers treating their readers as idiots - I don't know if this happens in other countries, but in Portugal, there's a habit of dividing books into more parts than the original versions. For example, A Song of Ice and Fire is divided into 10 books at the moment, each costing between 16-18€. I bought my copies in English, and have advised everyone I know to do the same, because it feels wrong to support publishers who act this way.
"Poor gauzy souls trying to express ourselves in something tangible." - F. S. Fitzgerald

"Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love." - Robert Burns

Offline Raptori

  • Barbarian who does not use the Oxford comma and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4054
  • Total likes: 2110
  • the prettiest kitty cat in the world
    • View Profile
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2015, 01:06:57 AM »
What is especially annoying is that it really feels like the publishers are assuming their readers to be ignorant troglodytes, as if people couldn't tell the difference. And it is different than having an actual quote from an author featured on the cover - I can actually respect that, although it still won't make any difference for me. But this is how marketing works, and I don't think it will change anytime soon.
Yeah it is pretty patronising. I tend to ignore any quotes or anything like that on the cover of a book, because they're exactly what the publisher wants you to see. They're not going to be objective criticism of the book - they're just there to entice. I guess it has some impact for some people though, like you said it's not likely to change.

Slightly off-topic but related to publishers treating their readers as idiots - I don't know if this happens in other countries, but in Portugal, there's a habit of dividing books into more parts than the original versions. For example, A Song of Ice and Fire is divided into 10 books at the moment, each costing between 16-18€. I bought my copies in English, and have advised everyone I know to do the same, because it feels wrong to support publishers who act this way.
Yeah, we ended up buying Words of Radiance in two halves, although that's because it was cheaper to do that than to buy it as a single volume. It still annoys me to be honest, just seems really odd to split a book in two.
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Elfy

  • Writing contest regular
  • Powers That Be
  • Ringbearer
  • *
  • Posts: 6966
  • Total likes: 681
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Purple Dove House
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2015, 02:14:58 AM »
I do kind of like what Angry Robot do with their books, though. They have a small section on the back called File Under. It has a major category, which is say Science Fiction, and then a few sub categories which are often elements of the book and can be quite amusing as well.

Offline xiagan

  • Writing Contest Organizer
  • Powers That Be
  • Elderling
  • *
  • Posts: 5662
  • Total likes: 2426
  • Gender: Male
  • Master Procrastinator
    • View Profile
    • Fictional Times
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2015, 09:10:01 AM »
Slightly off-topic but related to publishers treating their readers as idiots - I don't know if this happens in other countries, but in Portugal, there's a habit of dividing books into more parts than the original versions. For example, A Song of Ice and Fire is divided into 10 books at the moment, each costing between 16-18€. I bought my copies in English, and have advised everyone I know to do the same, because it feels wrong to support publishers who act this way.
This is one reason why I switched to buying English books too (the other was that I couldn't wait for the time it took them to translate Terry Pratchett's new releases). I have all the German Wheel of Time books for example - 35 in total. It's as if they don't think we would buy bigger books. :P I know that Sanderson's books, thhe Wise Man's Fear and the Malazan books are divided into multiple volumes too. Really annoying.
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline DrNefario

Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2015, 10:57:22 AM »
The big problem with cover comparisons is that they tend to set up the book to fail. It's like LoTR, only not as good. It's like a watered down Game of Thrones. It's a badly photocopied Hunger Games. All you're ever going to do is compare the book to the bestseller named on the front, and it isn't really very likely to measure up, in the end.

We all make these comparisons. I've just posted in the Now Reading thread comparing my current read to a movie. In a sense, the whole main body of fantasy is books that are kind of alike. But putting it right there on the cover is kind of pre-empting the discussion. I guess it is the job of the marketing team to try to convey what the book is, so that it finds its right audience, but I don't think they should give these quotes that kind of prominence, and sometimes they are hilariously wrong.

Was it Sword of Shannara that sported the classic double-edged "Comparable to Tolkien at his best"?

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6759
  • Total likes: 4599
  • Gender: Male
  • ridiculously obscure is my super power.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: "Similar to X" / "On a par with Y" - on book covers
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2015, 11:17:53 AM »
Quote
Was it Sword of Shannara that sported the classic double-edged "Comparable to Tolkien at his best"?
Not at his best.  Hmmm. Page 252, para 3 of the Two Towers was probably an off day for my boy. Other than that?
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com