Why Labeling Every Book “THE NEXT HARRY POTTER” is Really Freaking Annoying

why labeling every book the next x is annoying blog graphic

How many times have you picked up a book at the bookstore or looked at a book on Goodreads to see on the cover or in the blurb something like “THE NEXT HARRY POTTER” or “THE HUNGER GAMES FOR A NEW GENERATION”? Personally, I’ve lost count.

I get that when it comes to marketing a book, you want to make it sound as appealing as possible and reach out to readers who are interested in the type of book you’re publishing. You’re publishing a book that involves young kids and magic? Let’s try to get Harry Potter fans to give it a try! I get it.

What I don’t think publishers get is that this is really annoying. Maybe I’m the only one it annoys – but I doubt it. I’ve found that if something bothers me, I’m usually not alone. But why does it annoy me?

To me, labeling a book “the next X” is 1. setting expectations extremely high and 2. doing a disservice to the new book.

It’s unlikely that any book or series is going to live up to the label of “the next Harry Potter.” That book was an international phenomenon, appealing to readers of many different ages and backgrounds. It had great characters, great world-building, and wonderful writing. (This isn’t to say it didn’t have its flaws, but that’s not the point of this post.) It was incredibly popular for many different reasons. As much as other authors may want to be the next J.K. Rowling, it’s unlikely for the majority of authors that they’ll ever reach that level of fame.

By labeling a book “the next Harry Potter” you’re setting readers up to be disappointed. They’re going to go into that book expecting every little thing that they loved about Harry Potter to be in this book too. When that inevitably doesn’t happen, readers are going to be really let down – more so than they would be if they had gone into the book with no expectations – and the book’s sales may suffer as a result.

This brings me to point #2: publishers are doing a disservice to the new book. They aren’t allowing the book to exist in its own right, to be its own book. They’re not allowing it to be itself in all its glory – they’re automatically comparing it to another book. It’s almost as if they’re assuming that this new book isn’t good enough to attract readers on its own. I’m no marketing or publicity expert and I know that with all the books that exist in this world, you have to do what you can to get people to notice your book. But is comparing it to a book that it will likely never be as good as the way to get readers? Let readers discover the book another way. Design a fantastic cover that will entice people. Put out ads. Talk about it on your website or social media accounts. There are a lot of other ways to make the book known and make it seem interesting.

I know this strategy must work to at least some extent or else publishers wouldn’t still be labeling books like this. But dear lord, I wish publishers would find other ways to describe and talk about their new books without setting readers up to be disappointed. Let books exist in their own right, without being automatically compared to other books. Let readers go into a new book without expecting something as perfect and lovable as their all-time favorite book. Please, publishers, I’m begging you.

Is this something that annoys you? Or does it make you want to pick a book up if it’s compared to one of your favorite books?


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28 thoughts on “Why Labeling Every Book “THE NEXT HARRY POTTER” is Really Freaking Annoying

  1. I completely agree. The publishers are doing the books they’re trying to push a disservice by claiming it’s the next greatest book. I’ve read tons of reviews that say that it’s the next Harry Potter just because the book has magic. The thing is there will never be another Harry Potter. It’s too unique of a series to even compare. And there will never be another Hunger Games. They really set themselves up for failure by saying that. Good idea for a discussion post. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yup, those books are one-of-a-king and it’s impossible to write something that can take their place. Besides, a book that really closely mimics another super popular book isn’t going to be unique enough for people to want to read it. And if it is unique enough, then it’s not “the next Harry Potter” – it’s a whole new book/series.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree. I also don’t pick up any book with such a label, because it comes with too high of expectations. So I think the marketers are doing a disservice to the new book by turning people off and losing sales and readers (at least it turns me off from buying). I would prefer if they needed to compare it, to say “If you liked XXX, then you will like this one…” or something similar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree. I think it would work a lot better if they said “for fans of Harry Potter” rather than “the next Harry Potter” for example. That way, they’re still attracting those readers without promising a story exactly like the one those readers know and love. I think there’s less of a chance of people being really disappointed that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It annoys me so much. You can promote a book that fans if Harry Potter or Gone Girl will like it, but don’t advertise it as a next Gone Girl. It never is. And if I read that the book is Next X I will inevitably compare the new book to the other one, and in almost all cases it will fall flat in comparison to this amazing book which title publishers are using to sell the new book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, I totally agree. I don’t mind if it says that it will appeal to fans of a certain book, but marketing and advertising it as the next HP or THG or any other really popular book, you’re setting readers up to be disappointed because it’s almost impossible for this new book to live up to those expectations.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I definitely agree. Plus, how could you even know if a book would be the next ‘Harry Potter?’ I highly doubt J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter thinking, this is going to inspire an entire generation of readers, make 8 successful movies and 2 theme parks! I of course hope there’s another immensely successful book series one day, but hopefully it will be successful enough on its own without being marketed as the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games. Sorry that was a bit of a rant!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great discussion topic, and I completely agree – that sort of description is not only doing the new releases a disservice, but also tainting the legacy that amazing series like Harry Potter have left behind. I also find it annoying when ever young adult contemporary romance release is compared to The Fault in Our Stars on Goodreads, usually as a mix between The Fault in Our Stars and another best-selling novel. I think every book deserves its own chance without having to be compared with its popular predecessors.

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  6. Yes I agree with everything you said. It actually annoys me so much that it makes it less likely for me to read it. I want to know what’s unique about the book, if it is extremely similar to another book then I don’t want to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true. Plus it’s not even usually that the book really is that much like the book its being compared to. It’s like, oh this book has magic? It’s the next Harry Potter! No matter how different it actually is. One thing in common is not enough to make a comparison like that lol And like you said, if it’s too similar, then I don’t want to read it. I want to read something new & unique.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The funny this is, when you’re working in a publishing house and are trying to convince your supervisor that you should take on a project, you never, ever compare the book to popular books. You never say it compares to Twilight, HP, the Hunger Games etc. because everyone KNOWS it is very unlikely the book will sell as many copies as those books do. You compare to popular, but less massive books. So I always find it hilarious that book covers only use super super popular book comparisons to appeal to the public, as if Twilight and HP are the only books we’ve heard of.

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      • I think it’s just a lack of faith in the general reading public to be able to recognize the titles of a books that are not extremely big names. Why compare a book to “Matched?” People don’t know what that is! Compare it to “The Hunger Games!” But I do think it sets people up to be disappointed when they think “Wow, that was nothing like X at all.” All I’ve learned is to completely disregard comparisons because they’re essentially meaningless. I’m still not over the publisher comparing “Court of Fives” to “Little Women.” Uh…because the protagonist has sisters? That does NOT warrant the comparison.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I mean I get why they do it, but there are still a lot of problems with it. Oh my god I hate when they make comparisons that really don’t make sense! It was such a problem when YA dystopian was really popular because it was like every time a new one came out, it was compared to THG even though it had a completely different concept. Just because they’re in the same genre doesn’t mean they can be compared like that!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly! It’s like they just compare it to the most well-known book in the genre, which isn’t helpful. I already know it’s a dystopian/fantasy/paranormal romance.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I completely agree with you! I find it incredible annoying too. I love when reviews say a book is reminiscent of another book but I don’t like when a publisher labels a book as the next anything. I’ve been led astray by that a few times where I’ve read a book only to be disappointed when it was nothing like what they were claiming it would be like. I’m with you on them not giving the book a chance to stay on it’s own, it makes a readers expectations too high. Now a days I try to ignore it when I see any book labeled the next anything and I take it with a grain of salt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here. I know now to go in expecting books by to be as good as whatever they’re comparing them to, but sometimes it still ends up being disappointing. I’d much rather have them say something like “for fans of Harry Potter” rather than calling the book the next HP.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d rather they do that too! At least at that point I’m not so much comparing the two books and expecting them to be the same. Kind of like those “If you liked that you might like this” kind of things. I have come across a few books that say “for fans of” though so I know that’s something that is done. If only it was done more though.

        Liked by 1 person

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  10. Yes at this entire post!! It’s so annoying that publishers keep doing this. It’s like how a ton of Adult Fiction thrillers get labelled as “the next Gone Girl” or when heaps of YA back in the mid 2000s was “the next Twilight”. Like you said it makes the expectations for the book unrealistically high. It’s really not fair on the authors or reader. The book could actually be really good in its own right but that Harry Potter ect. comparison will always be in the back of your mind and it really warps your judgement of the book. The author deserves to have their book be THEIRS and not “the next whatever”. Brilliant post, Kourtni!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. OMGGG I totally love this post! I agree with you, labeling a book like this is completely annoying. There are countless times where I’ve seen a new dystopian labeled as the next hunger games and it’s just assumptive. I also hate it when they say things like ‘perfect for fans of john green and rainbow rowell’ for almost every new realistic fictions. It’s jumping to conclusion and I most likely will be disappointed. But I never thought of point #2 before! You’re so right, it is a bit unfair for the new books while they should be shining on their own light. Great post 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed the post!
      It definitely is a big assumption to make on the publishers’ part. Not every book is going to resemble other books in the same genre and assuming that fans of one book in the genre will automatically be fans of another is unfair & probably unrealistic.

      Liked by 1 person

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