Hype Malfunction!

June 15th, 2008

Man, what with all these great reviews recently, you can imagine I was starting to feel pretty ground down. Does no-one out there hate my stuff any more? Is there no-one who’ll give a brother a kick when he’s up? It can be tough getting out of bed when you know there’ll be no knives out for you in the senate-house, believe me. So imagine my delight when my weekly (alright, daily) blog-search (alright, hourly) unearthed this little beauty at Bobby’s triple zero’s book thoughts:

“Every review I’ve read focuses on how Abercrombie did well by not overly describing the setting and instead focusing on creating vivid characters. This is actually where I disagree the most. To me the characters were cliche. Yes, I said it. Cliche. Let the hate mail commence.”

Oh yeah, sweet smarmy. Yes, I said it. Smarmy. Tastes like strawberry jam. I doubt anyone cares enough to actually mail him anything, even me, but one should be careful what one wishes for…

“Predictable. Cliche. Semi-boring. In essence, this is Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself. But despite all that I said, it does have potential. After all this is only the first in the series. Maybe the characters will grow in different ways than I predict in the next two. I sincerely hope that Abercrombie proves me wrong.”

Hmmm. If I was feeling in a sarcastic frame of mind, I might say something like: “Predictable. Cliche. Semi-boring. In essence, this is Bobby’s blog.” But everyone knows that I am just so well not sarcastic. And I’m not at all a tiny-minded, bitter little man with an old, dried-up white turd where my heart should be. Well, alright, I am. But I can be charitable on occasion. After all, this is only Bobby’s fourth post. Maybe his blog will grow in different ways than I predict in the next two.

In other news, the evil Gollancz hype machine, running as it does on the skulls of stolen orphan children and lubricated by the blood of harmless virgins by that undead arch-hype-sorcerer Simon of Spanton, manifestation of corporate strangulation of all that is good and righteous upon the unsullied, unicorn-infested, emerald fields of the fantasy genre (takes deep breath) has been running overtime again in its efforts to trick the innocent readers of the world into buying Richard Morgan’s The Steel Remains. Which I rather liked. At least before all that evil hype got started. Now I am forced to question my own response. Could it be that I TOO was hypnotised by that fiendish puppet-master of the lowest nether pit of publishing?

Well, what I want to know is, if the macabre Gollancz hype-engine is so fricking effective, how the hell did this bad review of my book happen, eh? Eh, Spanton?


Posted in reviews by Joe Abercrombie on June 15th, 2008. Tags:

18 comments so far

  • Alex says:

    I admire this fellow’s inventiveness. Look – he’s throwing off the shackles of out-moded and predictable spelling. It is, after all, certainly no cliché to describe a book as a cliche. (And I’m sure Norse Beserkers couldn’t care less about how many “r”s they get.)

    I also suspect that the one thing he says he liked about your book – that the plot is not “too complex” – will be lost when he reads the rest of the trilogy. Disaster.

  • Alex,
    Well to be fair to the guy, I usually miss off accents ’cause sometimes the type-faces on blogs get confused and convert them to a meaningless string of symbols. And … er … he spelled berserkers right.

    But otherwise, absolutely.

  • Swainson says:

    joe, you are a nasty, nasty man!! poor bobby???

  • swainson,
    I know, I’m disgusted with myself, I really am. I mean some guy just posts his own thoughts about a book and suddenly he has this crap to deal with. It’s not right. There should be a rule. Etc.

  • Simon let you have a bad review?! When I was reviewing The Steel Remains, I didn’t get my pets back for weeks after I mentioned my minor niggle in that otherwise thoroughly-enjoyed book 🙁

    He’s going to easy on that Bobby chap! I’m a bit annoyed at some of the knee-jerk comments by readers on that post of Pat’s though. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking to clarify something in a review. Simon wasn’t saying that Pat’s opinion was wrong, just asking for some clarification.

    Glad to hear things went well in Cornwall, down near my neck of the woods! 🙂

    The Book Swede

  • An Interesting reaction – at least he’s going to buy (or will he get a review copy) of the third one!

  • Chris,
    I guess it depends on your definition of hype, but for me the word has a connotation of, if not outright dishonesty, then certainly serious manipulation on the part of the purveyor of a commodity, usually with the understanding that it’s backed up by the spending of a load of money. I don’t personally think that sending advance reader copies to reviewers, which publishers have been doing for time out of mind, necessarily qualifies. Nor does writing on those ARCs that the editor believes the book is good, groundbreaking, interesting, or whatever, which they certainly do believe, or they wouldn’t be publishing it.

    Buzz is certainly self-enforcing, and tends to produce more of the same, but I don’t see how you’ll ever avoid a lot of buzz around big releases by well known authors. People will tend to read ARCs at the same time, and if they like them want to express their opinion. Are any group of good reviews hype, then?

    Some folks might say the word ‘hype’ isn’t necessarily negative, but I think Pat would be annoyed if whenever he gave a book a good review he was accused of hyping it. And I don’t really understand why: Pat doesn’t like something but other people do = hype explosion from which readers must be protected, but Pat likes something and other people do = good book.

    Still, no offence to Pat or Simon, who are basically just having an interesting discussion about what constitutes hype and what buzz, what might be damaging to a book or people’s reading of it and etc. But some of the comments on there are pathetic. Hence my sarcastic rant. It don’t take much.

    Ah, people acting like dicks on the internet. Never goes out of fashion.

  • I’m starting to feel paranoid now that I’m one of those pathetic people…

    Doesn’t hype relate to things that haven’t been peer reviewed and analysed? Buzz is better…maybe The Steel Remains had so much buzz that it crossed the line to hype and the fantasy was greater than the fantasy?

    That’s one reason I try not to have too many expectations when reading something and use reviews to choose books that I might like rather than books that I know I’m going to love.

  • Jason says:


    Maybe this guy is just a big fan, knows how much you like to bitch and so is giving you something to bitch at ?



    Nah probably not

  • Gabriele C. says:

    The whole discussion is very englighting. I was one of those who didn’t associate anything negative like manipulation with ‘hype’. Should look up words now and then. 😉

    I don’t see anything wrong with sending out ACRs with cover letters saying the book is great. As one of the many aspiring writers hanging out in blogland these days (yeah, I know, *sigh* another one) I’ve learned a bit about how publishing works. And after step 1: finish the damn book already, it’s step 2: find an agent and a publisher who like your book well enough to risk some money on it in hope there’s an audience – or is that readience? 🙂 Of course, they will tell possible future readers that it’s a good book. Why else would they publish it? I can’t see any manipulation in that.

  • Cutsnake says:


    This is not at all relevant to your post, but I just wanted to say that I’ve just finished LAOK and loved it. Congrats on the whole series. One of my favourites of all time.

    I also just wanted to say:


    best line of the entire series:

    “Say one thing about Logen Nine-fingers. Say he’s a cunt”.

    Ah, absolute literary gold.

    Keep it up. Can’t wait for BSC.

  • Anonymous says:

    Being somewhat off the beam here, I would like it ever so much if the links to the books, etc in your left column functioned to perfection. You had my interest as a new reader until I kept getting bounced back to my starting spot.

    Thanks. Just a minor rant, but loved the rest.


  • Den says:

    Isn’t the word hype a shortening of the word hypebole.

    hyperbole |hīˈpərbəlē|
    exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

    And, after seeing the review backlash Bobby received I’m glad I was unashamedly sycophantic (until book 3 anyways).

    By the way, I was miserable where I came on here, this post has me laugh my unmentionables off. Thanks.


  • gav,
    no, not you pathetic, it was the anonymous big talk I was referring to.

    that’s a good point, actually. If it’s true, I guess we’re both happy.

    It seems as if there’s a feeling in some people’s minds (some of the commenters on there would seem to qualify) that books shouldn’t be a business. That the artistic and commercial elements of it are always in total opposition. That anything pushed or publicised must be compromised. That pure art can only flourish in utter obscurity. That anyone behind the scenes must somehow be the enemy of reader and writer both.

    Idiotic wank.

    Hah. Glad you liked it. The book and that line.

    Does something not work? What pray? And can I ask what browser are you using?

    You get one free pass once you’ve been sycophantic about two books. Don’t test me next time, though.

    The line between misery and joy is me talking out of my ass.

  • Gabriele C. says:

    Joe, I’ve come across that bullshit on a writers’ forum – until the admin tod the fibber to shut up because it’s just wrong. He presented the Only Steven King Gets Published These Days and It’s All a Big Conspiracy variant (hey, I had no idae you’re one of Kings aliases) and told us that every self respecting writer should self publish to escape said conspiracy. Also, editors are useless wannabe writers who don’t ‘get’ your great art and you should not compromise it by changing anything.

    I admit to writing what I like to write and not caring much about the market which changes all the time anyway. But I’m realistic enough to see that if I should not be able to sell my stuff, it’s because it is not marketable at that point. Not because of a conspiracy of the Evil Overlords of Publishing who won’t allow new writers into the game.

  • Hey Joe, Congratulations on making no 81 on the Top 100 SFX’s Authors list… though Larry did beat you to the post…

  • Swainson says:

    You’ll be pleased to hear Bobby has reviewed Before they were Hanged.

    And he’s going to read Last Argument of Kings. I can hardly wait!

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