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To Spoil or Not To Spoil

That is actually the question.

I recently read an article about spoilers not being a bad thing. It asserted that, instead, spoilers make you enjoy stories more. Obviously, I won’t repeat the article verbatim* (I’m not into plagiarism), but what I took away from it was the concept that if an audience knows what’s coming, they can focus more on the actual story as it develops, rather than try to guess what’s around the corner.

I found this soothing. You see, I’ve received a few reviews recently which contain spoilers for a twist which -while I thought it was predictable- a few readers have said they didn’t see coming.

Before I continue, I want to be very clear that this blog post is in no way an indictment of the reviews I’ve received, because those people cared enough to take the time and make the effort to leave feedback, and that is awesome. I value every single reviewer, and thank them from the bottom of my heart for leaving their thoughts for me and for other readers. The feedback is deeply, genuinely appreciated. (Yes, even the handful of 3 star reviews. They are fair, and valid, and I appreciate them, too, and I will use them to improve my writing going forward.)

I firmly believe it is a reviewer’s right to put their feelings and opinions of a work out there however they choose to. Spoilers or no spoilers. Even though I’ll admit it – I have never really liked spoilers.

In Handle With Care‘s case, some reviewers have -on Goodreads- ticked the box that declares that they’re doing just that, which then gives the option to hide the review from people who mightn’t like reading spoilers (like me). Amazon doesn’t (as far as I’m aware) offer the option to do that. And that’s okay. It’s an Amazon flaw, not a reviewer’s.

However, I know that as a reader/viewer myself, a courtesy “Spoiler Alert” at the beginning of a review is helpful to me, because I personally detest reading them before I’ve read a book/watched a movie so I will skip that review…but, according to the article I referenced above, there’s a chance that spoilers might actually make me enjoy the story more.

So this all got me thinking… when it comes to Handle With Care, the ‘twist’ that has been “spoiled” in these reviews actually puts my novel into an additional trope category than just the ones I’ve been advertising it under. It’s a trope that I know a lot of readers enjoy. Some even specifically seek it out.

With that in mind, I’m now wondering: should I embrace the spoilers? Lean into them and change my blurb? Market this additional trope as part of the novel’s appeal? It’s very tempting to do it.

If the article I read is right and spoilers don’t actually ruin a reader’s enjoyment, I can’t see why I shouldn’t embrace them. Especially if I’m going to potentially market to a new group of readers who might not have given my novel a chance otherwise, not realising that I tick their trope boxes after all.

But it’s daunting. Just like every other decision in this self-publishing adventure. Every time I start thinking that I’ve started to wrap my head around it, something new pops up to challenge me. (Or maybe I’m overthinking again.)

But, with no magical guide to tell me what to do, I’m off to write a list of pros and cons.

I’ll let you know how I go.

(If you’d like to give the article that inspired this ramble a read, THIS LINK will take you there.)

2 thoughts on “To Spoil or Not To Spoil

  1. This is a really interesting article. I am someone who reads the last couple of pages of books before I start them, reads the reviews and spoilers of new films before I see them in the cinema and absolutely hates surprises of any kind. But that’s just my personality. I like to know what I’m getting into, who I’m rooting for and what’s is going to happen. Basically, I’m a control freak! LOL!

    I see your dilemma with your spoilers (and quickly went back to read my own review of Handle with Care to make sure I hadn’t spoiled the story or even tagged it with the trope in question. I didn’t – phew!). Yes it’s a twist that changes the dynamic of the story but I don’t think knowing before hand would have changed my feelings on the story as a whole. Had I known what was coming, I think my reaction would still have been “oooh – this is getting interesting” so ‘surprise’ would have been the only thing missing. IYSWIM.

    Personally, I wouldn’t change your blurb for Handle with Care and leave it to people’s nature. I look at reviews before buying a book because I want to be spoiled – so knowing won’t upset me. People who don’t like to be spoiled presumably don’t read many reviews before purchasing so still won’t be spoiled. And some people will see the ‘secret trope’ in the reviews and buy your book simply because it’s their favourite. So wins all round.

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    1. Oh, I just love your take on this!

      I honestly don’t mind people leaving spoilers in reviews (I’m just super excited to get reviewed at all, lol) but, as a potential reader, I don’t like reading spoilers…but I do like reading reviews. I know, I know: that makes me weird. 😂 I’ll own it.

      That article fascinated me, though. Their experiment really got my gears going! And it has made me think a bit more about future books and how I plan on structuring and marketing them.

      But I think you’re right: leaving it as is still has the potential of a win/win situation. As fun as some of the promo materials I could create might be, there was a reason I chose not to include it in the blurb in the first place.

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