Is bad publicity still good publicity?

Folks.  I am desperate for opinions here. I am in a pickle and as MY opinion moves back and forth like a tennis match...and I am that poor kitten getting a headache from trying to keep up.  (Really, I'm not. But I always thought it would be neat to be a kitten.  Especially if I owned it).

N-E-WAYS...You know how they have that saying in show business "there's no such thing as bad publicity"?  And I get it.  If someone is talking about how outrageously AWFUL something is then it piques curiosity.  How do you think I stumbled upon John Waters back in college.  Surprisingly, it was not through Johnny Depp.

I also see how, for example, telling students that a book is banned might increase their interest in picking it up because OF COURSE teens want to do the opposite of what The Great Adults might say about something.  (That is the only explanation that I have for why I chose to wear heavy metal shirts and biker shorts in the 80's.  But I digress...)

But what about bad publicity with books.  S'okay, we all have read about Greg Mortensen and the controversy.  But because of that and his name and Three Cups of Tea making headlines negatively, do you think that some people would say, "Huh, I wonder what this is about.  Let me read the book so I have a complete opinion."  OR do you think the norm is finding the book on your tbr shelves and then flunking it out the window of your car (Of course into a recycle bin.  Why should Mother Earth suffer?) 

OR another scenario.  What if you are reading a review copy of a book.  Maybe it's a debut book, even.  And there are people around the webworld who talk about how much they couldn't stand the gosh darn thing.  In fact, they wished they desperately could get those few days back.  Obvs this is BAD PUBLICITY, but....is it still good for business?  Is the author devastated?  Or is the author pleased that AT LEAST the book is being talked about considering how many books out there don't even get mentioned because who has the time to read them all?

Is it better to just be meh about a book?

Thoughts peeps?


  1. As someone who has experienced first hand what bad publicity can do to you, I'm going to say NO!!!!!!! it's not a good thing, not at all like good publicity. Bad publicity robs you of self-esteem and confidence. I have never, ever recovered from what the NY Times did to me. I have given up the career I've wanted since I was five years old, and cant' even write for myself anymore because I'm constantly second-guessing myself. I'm cautious about everything I put online, wondering if I can be attacked over it. I've lost all nerve. It's horrible.

    Having said that, I think it's possible to post a negative review - even of a debut book - without it being "bad publicity." If I need to write a negative review, I always try to separate my opinion from statements about the book. I don't say the book is bad or had such-and-such flaws, I say I personally had a problem with x, y, and z. This can actually get people interested in a book because they don't have the same issues as me, and at the same time it gives the author exposure without judging him/her or his/her book. It's definitely possible to do it kindly, and then I don't think it's bad publicity.

    Whatever you choose, I think as long as you are polite, kind, and don't attack the author or the book, you will be okay.

  2. I don't think when it comes to books, there is such a thing as bad publicity. There is a reader for every book.
    I do quite a few review request for self-published authors and most of them prefer an honest review, even if it is negative than a faked positive review.

    I think that readers (teens included) will naturally put a book down if it isn't working for them. At the same time, I don't think a banned, or a book that's getting a lot of media attention is all that different from a book that bloggers are raving about on twitter or in a group of friends. Some will read it and love it, some will hate it, and some won't read it at all.

  3. I agree with Amanda. While I do think there's such a thing as bad publicity, I don't think negative reviews necessarily count. In fact, I've lost count of the number of times a negative review has actually made me very curious about a book!

  4. "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." Oscar Wilde.

    Your question about bad publicity made me instantly think of Anthony Wiener.

    I guess I'd say good reviews are better than bad reviews. Bad reviews are better than no reviews.

  5. I vote for posting a bad review, but be aware that the author might read it. I learned this lesson really early on in my blogging career -- I posted a nasty, poorly-considered post about a book, and the author linked to it on her website and said "Jenny didn't like my book. :(" I felt so guilty, so after that if I'm reviewing a book negatively, I try to be reasonable about it and talk about the book in measured ways, what worked for me and what didn't.

    Also, I, like Ana, have often read a bad review and been intrigued enough by the bad review to go get the book. One bad review in a sea of good ones is often the reason I go read the book.


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